By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
One charter school application has been approved, and another has been rejected, by the Rutherford County Board of Education at a special-called meeting on July 18, 2022.
A review team made up of educators, district and community leaders have spent the past several weeks extensively reviewing charter school applications submitted by American Classical Education and Springs Public School Tennessee. The team has also worked with both applicants during the review process to attempt to address any concerns or deficiencies.
Policy 1.900 states Rutherford County Board of Education shall only authorize high-quality schools that “adhere to the State Board of Eduction’s quality charter authorizing standards” as outlined in State Board of Education Policy 6.111.
The RCS review team found the application from American Classical Education “Meets or Exceeds” the standard for its financial plan and capacity, but only “Partially Meets” the standard for Academic Plan Design and Capacity as well as the standard for Operations Plan and Capacity, according to the team’s final report.
For Springs Public School Tennessee the review team evaluated all three standards as “Meets or Exceeds,” according to the team’s final reports.
Full reviews for both are available for reference on the school district’s website HERE.
“School choice is an essential aspect of our RCS portfolio, Director of Schools Jimmy Sullivan said. “However, choice just for the sake of an additional option is not in the best interest of our district or our students.”
He added: “We have high expectations for all schools in RCS and I support both recommendations of our Charter Committee review team. We look forward to partnering with Springs to ensure a successful beginning that enhances opportunities for our students and community.”
The School Board voted 6-1 against the application for American Classical Education, and it voted 5-2 in favor of Springs Public School Tennessee.
The RCS review team utilized the Tennessee Department of Education’s standard scoring rubric and criteria to evaluate each section and subsection of the application submitted. The scoring rubric aligns to the standard application format provided by TDOE, as required by law (TCA § 49-13-116). Each subsection of the rubric identifies the characteristics of a strong response that would qualify as “Meets or Exceeds the Standard.” Review team members scored the responses by applying the guidance from the Tennessee Charter School Application Scoring Criteria 2021.
The RCS Charter School review team members are:
Wayne Blair, Rutherford County Community Member Representative
Shelia Bratton, Vice Chair, Rutherford County School Board
Kelly Chastain, School Choice / Charter School Coordinator
Linda Dohnal, RCS Special Education Specialist
Takisha Ferguson, Principal, Smyrna Middle School
Grayson Maxwell, RCS Communications Specialist
Cherri McCrary, RCS Instructional Technology Specialist
Elizabeth Davis, RCS Learning Loss Coordinator