Building on an idea first mentioned this summer, Mayor Karl Dean has announced plans to create a “charter incubator” to help bring more charter schools to Nashville.
Modeled off versions in New Orleans and New York, the incubator would function as an organization that trains educators who are launching new charter schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
“Obviously you can’t just start a school unless you have the background in curriculum and the background in administrative skills, and financial skills,” Dean told the SouthComm editorial staff Monday. “These incubators help create that.”
An official announcement about the incubator should come in three or four weeks, he said, with the hope being to certify it as a nonprofit by the end of the year.
Though Dean did not say who would staff the incubator, he said he is receiving advice from Matt Candler, CEO of New Schools of New Orleans, an organization established in 2006 to support the growth of charter schools. He said he’s also working with Alan Coverstone, the district’s executive director of charter and private schools.
“The schools are much less hostile than they used to be to charter schools,” Dean said. “Three or four years ago you had to fight the state, which was incredible, and you had to fight Metro, and now it’s a different world. We just need to take advantage of it.”
Dean’s announcement comes as MNPS received six charter school proposals in the first round of applicants following the state’s passage of a new law, granting charter school access to more students and lifting the number of charter schools allowed in Davidson County to 20. The school board is expected to review the applicants today.
The state’s approval of the bill followed a fierce lobbying effort from Dean, who told legislators existing caps and restrictions made it difficult to recruit reputable national charter organizations to Nashville.
“In terms of the national charters, I think the law changed too [late] for it to make a real impact” on this round of charter applications, Dean said. “The law didn’t change until the very end of the legislative session. To start a charter school, and to plan for it adequately, you need a year’s worth of time to get it done.”