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TN Expert: Charter Schools Remain Mainly Big City Idea

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
TN Expert: Charter Schools Remain Mainly Big City Idea

A Tennessee expert said the interest in Charter Schools remains confined to the state’s biggest cities.

But Vice President of External Affairs at the Tennessee Charter School Center Emily Lilley said there is nothing stopping Putnam County residents from pursuing a charter school.

The subject of a potential charter school came up at a recent Putnam County School Board Work Session, with some board members wondering if the area might be ripe for such development.

“There’s some flexibility to the model that allows them to offer something unique,” Lilley said. “Even if a community is not dissatisfied with the quality of the schools they got, they may be looking for something additional to kind of round out what’s available to their community.”

Lilley said charter schools operate under an independent contract authorized by a school board or other public local education agency. This allows them the flexibility to offer special classes or focus on subjects like music or STEM, while still being publicly funded.

“Charter schools are operated by a non-profit governing entity that really hopes to work in partnership with the local education agency to be kind of a tool in the toolbox for a community to make sure that all students are able to get high quality educations,” Lilley said.

At the moment, charter schools in Tennessee are located in large cities like Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.

“We’ve started to see some interest in smaller communities across the state,” Lilley said. “Right now we are seeing some interest from Rutherford County, for example.”

The way the process of starting a charter school typically works is citizens and educators interested in starting a charter school would have to draft an application to submit to the School Board. Lilley said the application would have to be as detailed as possible including things like proposed curriculum, proposed location, proposed leadership, and more. That application is then evaluated by the School Board and voted on.

“If they approve the school, then they would move forward as the authorizer of that school, and the school would get busy moving forward and preparing to open,” Lilley said.

Nationwide, public charter school enrollment more than doubled in the last ten years. The Tennessee Charter School Center is a non-profit organization that offers resources to those trying to start a charter school, current charter schools, and parents seeking a charter school option.


The post TN Expert: Charter Schools Remain Mainly Big City Idea appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.