Sunday, August 7, 2011

Every Option on the Table: Curiosity Regarding Blount County’s HOPE Academy

Here is a story regarding a proposed charter school in Blount County.

Let me just acknowledge something at the outset of this post, I am well aware that charter schools raise ire and confusion. Frankly, you hear a wide array of positions with regard to charter schools in/out of Tennessee.

Correspondingly, I am curious if this (or something like it) is a solution we should consider for some of our schools here in Robertson County. This, of course, in the context of the issues I have discussed in previous posts (here, here, here, here, & here).
Now, with that being said, I approach the upcoming committee meetings with no agenda and no axe-to-grind. I have made that well know to anyone who asks, and with anyone I work with in my capacity that I am approaching this issue with an open mind. I think it is important that readers here know it.
Here is what intrigued me the most about Blount County’s HOPE Academy:
HOPE will be a K-5 school in its first year, if approved by the Blount board, and will basically add a grade a year through 2017 when it will top out with an eighth grade. The initial pupil count will be 180 and will rise to 320 by 2017, according Pat Bradley, executive director of the academy.
HOPE Academy, if approved, will be Tennessee's 46th charter school and the first established outside an urban setting.
It is funded by the local education association, the Blount school board, transferring its per-pupil appropriation for the charter students to HOPE. In addition, funds will be raised through philanthropy and by the school's supporting organization, Innovative Education Partnership Inc.
Among those addressing the meeting Thursday night was Matt Throckmorton, executive director of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, who told the crowd of more than 100 that charter schools can "do all kinds of things" that traditional public schools cannot, such as having classes on Saturday or as late as 5 in the afternoon.
But they also face the same accountability standards that all public school in Tennessee face. Failure to achieve those goals two years in a row can lead to the school being closed, he said.
When it comes to Robertson County Schools, I just want to bring every proposal to the table in the context of how we approach our schools.
Now, with that being said, I want to hear from you on this. And, yes, that means positive and/or negative feedback.