VOL. 129 | NO. 209 | Monday, October 27, 2014
Two Charter Groups Bow Out of New ASD Schools
By Bill Dries
Two veteran Memphis charter school operators announced Monday, Oct. 27, that they are bowing out of plans to operate new schools in the state-run Achievement School District next year.
KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools was to run South Side Middle School starting next August, Achievement School District leaders announced earlier this month as they named other Memphis schools who could possibly join the school district and the charter operators they could potentially be matched with.
Freedom Preparatory Academy was under consideration to run either A.B. Hill Elementary or Florida-Kansas Elementary in the 2015-2016 school year. But leaders of the academy also announced Monday that, like KIPP, they won’t be joining the ASD next school year.
The decision means South Side and A.B. Hill will remain in Shelby County Schools next school year. Florida-Kansas Elementary could still be matched with Scholar Academies, a Philadelphia-based charter operator.
KIPP and Freedom Prep each run existing charter schools outside the Achievement School District, which is the state-run school district targeting the bottom 5 percent of schools across the state in terms of student achievement.
Of their seven Memphis schools, KIPP runs three within the ASD and is adding grades in its phased-in approach at those schools next year. All were factors in KIPP’s decision to pass on the matching process for new schools to join the ASD. KIPP operates four other charter schools in Memphis.
South Side had been on the list of possible schools to join the Achievement School District in the current school year. Ultimately the district did not select South Side then, citing parents and community groups in the area who opposed the selection and argued they could improve the performance of students.
The ASD selected South Side for the coming year, saying the school has not shown signs of improvement.
Freedom Prep opened in 2009 in a church life center in southwest Memphis and has since moved into the old Lakeview Elementary building nearby. The school was the setting for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to sign into law the bill that eliminated the state’s cap on the number of charter schools allowed by law.
Freedom Prep leaders also cited their desire to focus on the growth of its existing school before taking on a school in the Achievement School District.