Work Underway To Approve First Williamson County Charter School
By Chris Cannon
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The Williamson County School District received its first letter of intent from a possible applicant for a charter school.
There are currently no charter schools in operation within the county. Williamson County's schools are routinely recognized as being some of the best in Tennessee.
Freddie Lee Haddox is the applicant behind the proposed Robert Baker Owen Institute of Education. It would be located on his family's property in Franklin.
"This land is responsible for me being who I am today," Haddox said. "My life would have very little meaning if it weren't for this land here,"
Haddox wants to open a 7th through 12th grade school that would focus on two curricular themes. One would be a career-vocational orientation. The second would consist of would focus on more traditional academics.
The school would operate on his 70-acre farm on Coleman Road in Franklin.
"We not going to spend big money on buildings, and that kind of thing. We want to put the money into the teachers, put the money where it's going to count the most," according to Haddox.
The small home Haddox grew up in, a 1950's ranch home, and the basement of his current home would house classroom and educational space for students.
Haddox currently operates Mamushi Nature Farm Initiatives on the property. He raises livestock there and operates a food pantry.
Several other people, including Haddox's son, are named on a letter of intent sent to Williamson County Schools.
This is the first letter of intent the district has received.
"You know, it is the reality that we're dealing with these days and so we'll make a very good decision moving forward and see where the road takes us," said Dr. Mike Looney, director of schools.
Just last month the district started the process of establishing a protocol to process charter school applications. Haddox has until April 1st to formally submit his application to the district.
"We'll be evaluating the application thoroughly and so the board will develop a process to evaluate the application, if it comes in," Dr. Looney said.
The board of education will have 90 days from that point to approve or disapprove the charter school application.
If approved the school would have 36 students the first year and increase its population and grade levels each year after.
Haddox had a simple answer when asked why he wanted to open a charter school.
"It's my last great adventure. Yeah, I am up to the challenge. Because it's the last thing I'm going to do on this earth to make a difference," he said.