Two more charter schools have been cleared to open in Nashville, bringing the total number of publicly funded but privately run schools in Davidson County to nine.
The Metro Nashville Board of Education unanimously approved charters last night for East End Preparatory School and STEM Preparatory Academy, while denying six other applicants who sought to open new charter schools.
Both are slated to open during the fall of 2011. The six that were denied have 15 days to make changes and appeal the board’s decision.
East End Preparatory, a school for K-5th grade students, is an offshoot of the Martha O’Bryan Center, a faith-based family resource center near East Nashville’s James Cayce Homes. The new prep school will initially operate out of the Martha O’Bryan facility before moving into a new building as it expands.
“We are very focused on family engagement,” said Marsha Edwards, CEO of the Martha O’Bryan Center. “From a community piece, that engagement will look different than maybe it has in other schools or efforts. We looked to a lot of schools across the country ... and saw that piece, and what it contributes to children’s success.”
STEM Preparatory Academy, a middle school, will be STEM-based in its educational approach, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The school will target students from the Glencliff and McGavock high school clusters.
According to school founder Kristen McGraner, STEM Preparatory Academy will the state’s first STEM public school.
Currently, Metro Nashville Public Schools has five operating charter schools, with New Vision Academy opening this fall. In addition, the board recently agreed to partner Cameron Middle School, a public school, with Nashville’s LEAD Academy, a charter school.
While charter schools rely on public funds, all have boards of directors that typically raise private dollars as well.
With Tuesday night’s approval, the board has now cleared four charters in the year following last spring’s new state law that increased the total number of charter schools allowed in Davidson County to 20.
Under the same law, any student who qualifies for the federal free and reduced lunch program can attend a charter school.