Charter School Company's Expansion Plan Surprises Metro - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Charter School Company's Expansion Plan Surprises Metro

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A charter school organization based in California isn't even officially in Nashville yet, so it's plans to expand it's presence already have come as a surprise to local school leaders.

Rocketship Education released plans last year to open its first elementary school in Metro in the 2014-2015 school year.

Metro school leaders said the company's plan to expand and open eight schools came as a big surprise.

The charter organization was authorized by the state's Achievement School District, not the Metro school board. It's part of the State Department of Education's plan to turn the lowest performing schools around.

"The Achievement School District has the authority to approve charters that serve children in the lowest five percent of the schools in the state," said Dr. Jesse Reigster, Director of Metro Schools.

Two of Metro's schools, Napier and Buena Vista Elementary have fallen within the lowest performing five percent for elementary schools.  Those are the only students Rocketship can target under the authorization agreement with the state.

Metro leaders said Napier and Buena Vista were making gains that will remove them from the Achievement School district by the time Rocketship plans to open. That's why Rocketship has also announced plans for submitting an application with Metro's school board, so it can look in other areas where it can serve struggling students.

"We have no intentions of competing with the work that Alan (Coverstone) and his team and Dr. Register are doing. We want great schools," said Kristoffer Haines, Vice President of National Development for Rocketship.

The company's seven schools are some of the highest performing in California. On April 1, they'll submit their charter application with Metro and wait to see if it's approved.

Lawmakers are considering creating a less restrictive statewide charter school authorizer.  It would allow organizations to bypass local districts and go straight to a state controlled board to authorize them to serve any schools, not just ones that are low performing.

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