The Tennessee Charter School Commission will have its quarterly meeting on Thursday, and it’s scheduled to make a ruling on American Classical Education’s application to put a charter school in Jackson-Madison County.
In a report published over the weekend, Executive Director Tess Stovall recommended the Commission approve the application.
Stovall presided over a hearing at the Jackson-Madison County Schools Central Office in September in which representatives of JMCSS gave their reasons for having rejected ACE’s application twice, and ACE had its opportunity to make a case for its presence in the county.
Stovall said ACE’s application did “rise to the level of meeting or exceeding the standards required for approval.”
“There are two differentiating strengths within the ACAJM application that are notably different than the other application on appeal from the same sponsor in a different district,” Stovall’s report said. “The first strength is an identified school leader who has experience in the academic model and has expertise to implement the academic, operational, and financial plans outlined in the application.
“The second strength is an identified community within Madison County where the sponsor proposes to locate the school. Within the application, the sponsor set forth an academic plan with a clear mission and vision.”
Alex Spry is the planned school leader, and she was actually part of ACE’s team who presented to the committee in September.
She gave a passionate presentation of why ACE’s methods of educating children is needed and works for some students and why families in Jackson and Madison County deserved that choice.
Other aspects of the recommendation – location, financial plan, marketing plan, facility and operations – all branch off the fact that ACE provided Spry as the school leader.
Stovall touted Spry’s experience as a charter school leader who has experience in leadership of new charter schools, suggesting her experience would probably help ACAJM’s chances of early success while also stating JMCSS’ evaluations of ACE’s application being deficient in multiple areas as inaccurate as the said the amended application met or exceeded expectations for its planning.
JMCSS Board Chairman James “Pete” Johnson – who voted both times to reject the application based on the JMCSS charter review team’s recommendations – said he supports public schools and believes the district is turning a corner in improving outcomes for its students and should be allowed to do that.
“Our teachers and administrators work hard to educate our children, and all children deserve the same opportunities to be educated,” Johnson said. “Having a charter school in Madison County the way they want to bring one in will take funding from our district while our fixed costs will remain the same.
“And that will hurt our efforts to work to bring the best education in the best facilities with the best teachers the district for the students.”
ACE’s plan if approved on Thursday is to work toward bringing American Classical Academy Jackson-Madison to existence in time for the 2024-25 school year.
“With an identified school leader and an identified community for the school, I determine that the proposed school could open in August 2024 based on the application currently before the Commission,” Stovall’s report said.
The Charter Commission’s meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday with votes on appeals for Madison and Maury counties being on the agenda.
Brandon Shields, email@example.com