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JMCSS, ACE have their say before Charter Commission

The state’s Charter Commission sent its executive director Tess Stovall and a few members of her staff to Jackson on Monday for its official hearing regarding American Classical Education’s application for a charter school in Jackson.

Stovall and her colleagues sat at the platform in the boardroom at the Central Office.

Three representatives apiece sat at tables in front of the platform to speak on their respective organizations’ behalf. On one side was Alex Spry, the planned headmaster for the school, Phillip Schwenk, the main representative who’s spoken on ACE’s behalf over the last couple years they’ve tried to apply for a school and Joel Schellhammer, the CEO of ACE.

At the other table were three representatives for Jackson-Madison County Schools – Chief Innovation Officer Teresa McSweeney, North Side Principal Bryan Chandler and Deputy Superintendent Vivian Williams.

In addition to those speakers, each side had 10 citizens sign up to speak on their behalf during the public comment portion of the meeting.

A lot of the discussion from both sides was similar to previous discussions earlier this year and last year, the first time ACE applied for a charter school in Jackson.

ACE wants to provide an option for parents who want their children to have a classical education experience but don’t have the means to provide that in a private school.

Those who support JMCSS’ opposition to ACE do so because they’re concerned about how much public funding ACE’s school would pull from the district as a whole, plus their issues they had with their application and amended application.

JMCSS criticized the application for not having definitive plans for curriculum, transportation, facilities or any other part of the school experience the state requires a plan for.

ACE argued that the plans outlined in their application actually met the state’s criteria and shouldn’t have been rejected by the JMCSS Board in April and July.

This is the crux of the argument the board members will have to vote on at their meeting in Nashville on Oct. 5.

The board is made of nine members from across the state, three in each of the grand divisions. None of the West Tennessee members are from rural West Tennessee.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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