Metro Charter School Fights Closure - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Metro Charter School Fights Closure

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

MADISON, Tenn. - Smithson Craighead Middle School is expected to close next month, but students, parents and staff are fighting to keep it open.

"On November 13th the world came crashing down," Project Lift Executive Director Joan Anderson said. Project Lift is the charter management operator of Smithson Craighead.

November 13th is when the Metro school board voted to close the middle school at the end of this year. The charter school is designated as one of the lowest performing in the state.

"We are here first and foremost for our students," Metro School Board Chairwoman Cheryl Mayes said during the November meeting. "And part of that, part of being here for our students, is to make sure they achieve academically."

"They don't understand how much we do, how much everyone in our school does to keep us on track," 8th grader Terrance McBride said on Thursday.

Project Lift, on behalf of Smithson Craighead Middle School and parents are part of a class action lawsuit in hopes of keeping the school open.

"Next year we will be attending Smithson and Craighead," parent Lois Lilley said confidently.

The lawsuit also seeks damages exceeding $100,000 that parents could collect.

"We take students from other schools," teacher Angela Moscheo said of the challenges they face. "We bring in education issues, behavior issues and we see continuous improvement."

That's their explanation for the test scores.

"We did see very large gains from below basic to basic," Anderson explained. "So this year was supposed to build on that beginning turnaround."

Data from Metro Schools shows from 2010 to 2012,  18 percent of students were on grade level or advanced in reading and language arts; only 7.5 percent in math.

"If I just looked at the numbers I'd throw the dirt over this building myself. I mean seriously," Moscheo said.  "But that's not what this is about. That's what we've been saying."

While the environment may be welcoming for students, Metro Schools says it's too little, too late.

"We have had a slower start, then some other charter schools. However we've got it," Anderson said about the momentum she says the school now has.

Metro Schools also cites Smithson Craighead's scores are much lower than the district's other charter schools that serve similar populations.

The law allows the districts to revoke the charters for low performing schools, that's why Metro says it stands by the board's vote.


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