Friday, December 02, 2011

Achievement School District Has First Authorized Charter Operators

Great news from Tennessee, where reformers Kevin Huffman and Chris Barbic are doing great things:


Achievement School District Has First Authorized Charter Operators
posted November 15, 2011

The effort to turn around Tennessee's lowest- performing schools took its next big step with the approval of three organizations to lead new charter schools in Memphis and Nashville. 

Tennessee's Achievement School District, a statewide district designed to transform Tennessee's lowest-performing schools, announced that three organizations, all of whom are currently operating high-performing schools, met the rigorous requirements to operate three new charter schools in the ASD beginning in the 2012-13 school year. 

Two of the organizations will operate schools in Memphis - Gestalt Community Schools (which currently operates Power Center Academy) will open a new middle school, Nexus Learning Academy, and the second Memphis school Cornerstone Prep, will open as an elementary school. In addition to the two Memphis schools, LEAD Public Schools will open its third LEAD Academy middle school in Nashville. 

"We started this process focused on finding only the absolute highest quality educators," said ASD Superintendent Chris Barbic. "And we believe our process led us to the best organizations committed to serving ASD students and families. Today represents a huge opportunity for a win-win. A win for communities to get great schools and a win for these educators who get the opportunity to serve great kids and families." 

The three schools will now undergo a community engagement and matching process to determine where they will operate. The matches will be announced in mid-January.

The approved organizations submitted their plans as a part of the ASD's Request for Qualifications and met the requirements of a rigorous selection process managed by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. NACSA assembled a team of local and national experts that reviewed the school design, organizational plan, financial plan, and the organization's evidence of capacity to open and operate a great school.

All three of the ASD-approved schools will receive federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grants to help fund their work. Additionally KIPP Memphis, which was recently authorized by the consolidated Memphis City Schools-Shelby County board, will also receive i3 funds.

The locations of the new charter schools will be announced in mid-January after the community "matching" process has occurred. Final matching decisions will be made in collaboration with district officials and community members in Memphis and Nashville.

Nexus Learning Academy, Cornerstone Prep, and LEAD Academy will serve approximately 450 students next year as part of the Achievement School District. 

Information About Approved Operators

Gestalt Community Schools. Established as a Memphis charter school operator in 2007, Gestalt currently operates Power Center Academy MS and HS in Memphis. Power Center Academy middle school was recently recognized by SCORE as the best middle school in Tennessee. Gestalt is proposing to open Nexus Learning Academy inside a current ASD middle school. Nexus Learning Academy will start with 6th grade and phase-in one grade each year until it converts an entire 6th – 8th grade middle school in Memphis.

Cornerstone Preparatory Academy. Established in 2009, Cornerstone currently operates a high-performing, tuition-free, private elementary school. Cornerstone is proposing to phase-in at an existing ASD elementary school with grades K-2 and then add a grade at a time until it reaches a full K – 8th grade school in Memphis.

LEAD Public Schools. Established in 2007, LEAD currently operates LEAD Middle and High Schools and Cameron College Prep, the state's first charter conversion and the only District-Charter partnership. All schools in the LEAD network commit to doing "Whatever it Takes" to secure 100% college acceptance for their students. LEAD is proposing another phased-in middle school conversion in Nashville modeled after Cameron College Prep.

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