Blog Archives

Tell us what you want in a new Director of Schools

The Board of Education is searching for a new Director of Schools. Dr. Jesse Register will retire from Metro Schools this summer, and the Board has set a goal of finding the new Director by late June.

You can play a big part in this search process. Your opinions are vital to helping the Board know what kind of district leader Nashville needs. The input you give will have a direct impact on the kinds of candidates the Board seeks and the ultimate decision of who is hired.

There are three ways to participate:

Tuesday, April 14
10:00 a.m.
I.T. Creswell Middle Prep
3500 John Mallette Dr, 37218
Wednesday, April 15
7:00 p.m.
Cane Ridge High School
12848 Old Hickory Blvd, 37013
Thursday, April 16
7:00 p.m.
East Nashville Magnet School
110 Gallatin Rd, 37206

Metro Schools receives Urban School Board Excellence Award

Metro Schools is receiving national recognition for excellence in urban education. The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA’s) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has awarded Metro Schools the 2014 Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence.

Each year CUBE recognizes exemplary school boards for their excellence in school board governance, ability to build civic capacity, success in closing the achievement gap and working for equity in education, and demonstrated success of academic excellence. Georgia’s Fulton County Schools also received the award. At CUBE’s annual conference in Miami Fla., Metro Schools officials had the opportunity to showcase the work underway in Nashville and share success stories and best practices, highlighting the crucial connection between effective school board governance and student achievement.

“Both Fulton County Schools and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools have shown tangible results due to both strong leadership and innovative change,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, NSBA. “Their success stories are inspiring and have the opportunity to strengthen and propel change in other large school districts.”

“In presenting these excellence awards, CUBE is not only holding these districts up and celebrating their success, but by recognizing these districts, ‘the bar’ has effectively been raised showing other urban districts what excellence and achievement looks like,” said Van Henri White, CUBE Steering Committee Chair, and President of the Rochester New York School Board.

Metro Schools serves a diverse student population of more than 85,000. Approximately 72 percent of Metro students are economically disadvantaged, and 30 percent speak English as a second language. The district was in ‘restructuring status’ in 2009, and now is in good standing for academic progress.

“Metropolitan Nashville Schools has made tremendous progress in the last few years,” said Tammy Grissom, Executive Director, Tennessee School Boards Association. “With a strong and dedicated board superintendent team, they were able to increase their graduation rate, improve student achievement and completely transform the district.”

“To be recognized among our peer districts for the work we are doing here in Nashville is truly a great honor,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Every day our conversations are around what are we doing for students and how can we do it better. We are on the right path and will continue making the hard decisions required for every student to achieve, but for now I’m happy to take just a moment and celebrate the CUBE award and the progress we have made these past five years.”

In addition to each receiving a $2,500 award, Metro Schools and Fulton County Schools are featured in articles in the fall issue of Urban Advocate, CUBE’s quarterly publication, and will be highlighted throughout the year, following their continued success.

New and returning members of the Board of Education sworn in

Thursday, September 4 at 4:00 p.m., Judge Rachel Bell led a swearing in ceremony for the newly elected members of the Board of Education. This year’s class includes two returning members, Anna Shepherd and Dr. Jo Ann Brannon, as well as two new members, Mary Pierce and Tyese Hunter.

Welcome aboard!

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Meet your School Board candidates at a neighborhood forum

School Board elections are this August. Get to know the candidates in a public forum where candidates will share their visions for
public education in Nashville.

  • District 8 – June 9, 5pm at J.T. Moore Middle Prep
  • District 4 – June 12, 5pm at Two Rivers Middle Prep
  • District 6 – June 16, 5pm at JFK Middle Prep
  • District 2 – June 17, 5pm at McMurray Middle Prep

These are all hosted by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Urban League of Middle Tennessee and the MNEA. Read more about them on the Chamber website

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Adding classrooms and subtracting portables at A.Z. Kelley

“Peace out, portables!”
–A.Z. Kelley students and faculty

Students and teachers at A.Z. Kelley Elementary School in Cane Ridge are saying “so long” to five portables and “hello” to twelve new permanent classrooms.

They cut the ribbon on a brand new wing this week. The school, with more than 700 students, has added two first grade classrooms, two art rooms, four Special Education classrooms, one pre-k classroom and three second grade classrooms.

Take a look:

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Adding classroom space like this is a wonderful thing for students in crowded schools with lots of portables. It’s possible thanks to hard work of the Board of Education, Metro Council and Mayor’s Office, not to mention the planning and construction crews who actually build it.

Thanks to everyone who makes it possible for our students to have safe and comfortable learning environments!

School Shuffle: Rose Park Middle Magnet School

Where will I go to school next year? A few of our Metro schools and programs will be moving for the 2013-14 school year, temporarily or otherwise. To make sure you know where to go on the first day of school (August 1st – did we mention that already?), let’s do the School Shuffle:

We’re very fortunate in our district to have Mayor Dean, the Metro Council and the people of Nashville all support our district through funding for capital projects. The average age of the buildings in Metro Schools is 42 years old, and as we work to improve and update our schools and facilities, we sometimes have to move schools and programs to temporary facilities.

Rose Park Magnet Middle School, just recognized as one of the top performing schools in the nation, is one of those schools undergoing major renovations.

Rose Park (grades 5-8) is moving over to an empty Johnson School on 1200 2nd Avenue  South for the 2013-2014 school year. The move and wait will be worth it for students.

Rose Park will undergo an extensive renovation, expanding the school from 93,000 square feet all the way to 127,000. The project will completely remake Rose Park’s building, including mechanical, plumbing, electrical and fire protection.

The building was originally constructed in 1965, so these improvements will definitely modernize a growing school. After Rose Park has won SO MANY AWARDS recently and with enrollment on the rise, it deserves to be modernized.

Remember:

  1. Rose Park students will go to the Johnson School building starting August 1, 2013.
  2. Programming will not change. The school will remain a rigorous math and science magnet school with the same school choice population.
  3. The school is adding Chinese to its related arts program, including high school credit classes.
  4. Transportation plans are evolving, but they may include bus transportation for students in the Edgehill neighborhood.

School Shuffle: Joelton Middle School

Where will I go to school next year? A few of our Metro schools and programs will be moving for the 2013-14 school year, temporarily or otherwise. To make sure you know where to go on the first day of school (August 1st – did we mention that already?), let’s do the School Shuffle:

We’re very fortunate in our district to have Mayor Dean, the Metro Council and the people of Nashville all support our district through funding for capital projects. The average age of the buildings in Metro Schools is 42 years old, and as we  work to improve and update our our schools and facilities, we sometimes have to move students to temporary facilities.

One of these projects is a major renovation of the aged and inadequate building at Joelton Middle School.

Joelton Middle is set to undergo a total renovation. It is quite a project, and afterward the school will look stunning. It will be modernized and better prepared for 21st century learning. Construction will go on through all of next school year, so the question is, what do we do with the students at Joelton Middle in the meantime? They can’t remain in the school because the project is just too big.

Students at Joelton Middle (grades 6-8) will spend the 2013-14 school year at Haynes Middle School, where Haynes and Joelton students can share a space while remaining in their own separate schools. Rising fifth grade students at Joelton, Cumberland and Lillard Elementary Schools will remain at their schools for fifth grade.

Important to note:

  1. The schools will not be merged. Haynes will continue to be a choice school. Joelton will return to its own building when the renovation is complete for the 2014-15 school year.
  2. Joelton students inside of the Haynes facility will be in a separate area of the building.
  3. Each school will keep its own principals, faculty and athletic programs (we expect the relationship with I.T. Creswell to continue).
  4. The schools will share common areas, like the gym and the cafeteria, according to a set schedule.
  5. Because the schools have different start times, students will arrive and dismiss at different times.

There is more than enough space in the Haynes building to accommodate both schools. Each has its own strong traditions and holds its own special place in the community. These will be preserved during this one-year adventure.

Most importantly, both Joelton and Haynes have the teachers, leadership and family commitments to create great schools.

Board of Education earns Friend of Education Award from MNEA

2013 Friends of Education

2013 Friends of Education

Confirming what we all knew anyway, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association (MNEA) has named our school board a “Friend of Education.”

Among a flurry of awards and recognitions given to students and educators last week, MNEA gave our Board of Education the Friend of Education Award for having “the courage to make the hard decisions necessary to ensure success for all students.”

While some of those decisions have made the headlines during this past year, they have a body of work that boldly states to all concerned that they take seriously the trust that they’ve been given and that they will not be bullied into decisions that will negatively impact our students… Nashville’s teachers thank the MNPS Board for their unwavering courage and resolve.

The award is given every year to a deserving organization and an individual “whose leadership has contributed significantly to the improvement of public education in Nashville.”

This year’s individual winner is Sally Levine, board member at the thriving and vital Homework Hotline.

You would be hard pressed to not find Sally’s fingerprint on the organizations that are the heart and soul of Nashville,” said Stephen Henry, MNEA President.  “As a board member of Homework Hotline, she has been the driving force for the new Reading Initiative currently in place in five of Nashville’s elementary schools.  Because of her work, 3rd graders who were reading significantly below grade level are now experiencing success at grade level.

Other awards and scholarships were given last week at the MNEA’s National Teacher Day Banquet. Read the full MNEA release to see full details and a list of other winners.

Six applications to open charter schools in 2014-15

UPDATE:

The Charter Review Committee has made recommendations to the Board of Education for this year’s applicants. The Board of Education is scheduled to hear recommendations and take action at its June 25 meeting. This meeting will be covered on the district live-blog, which you can watch on MNPS.org.


The charter school applications for the 2013 cycle are in and under review.

Out of ten letters of intent, we received six full applications to be considered for charters. Three review teams are now poring over two applications each, with interviews and recommendations to follow.

The applications came in on April 1, and we have 90 days for review, recommendations to the Board of Education and final approval or denial by the Board.

Here is the timeline for moving forward:

  • May 7 – All applicants come in for interviews with the application review teams
  • Mid-May – Plans are yet to be finalized for a specific date, but there will be a time for public comment on applicants before the Board
  • Mid-May – A round of cuts is made, with select applicants moving forward toward recommendation. Other applicants that do not make the cut will not be recommended for approval.
  • May 28 – Selected applicants come in for second round interviews.
  • Early June – Review teams will submit reports to officials from the Office of Innovation, who will prepare final recommendations for the Board
  • Late June – Recommendations are made to the Board of Education for approval or denial of charters (June 25 at the latest)

Why did we receive only six applications from ten letters of intent? One school did not make the final deadline, another withdrew its application so it could have more time to put it together and two more did not complete all elements of the application as legally required by the State of Tennessee.

Our teams are excited to be digging into these applications, and I know we’re all looking forward to seeing what comes of them.

View the Applications and Recommendation Reports:

Four big reasons behind our budget increase

It’s that time again. Budget time.

Work on the 2013-14 Metro Schools operating budget has been going on for months. Department heads and officials from the district business office have been going through budgets line item-by-line item, looking at each expense and its purpose in fulfilling our mission.

A draft of the budget is ready and available for review online. It calls for $764 million in funding, an increase of nearly $44 million over this year.

What’s behind the increase?

  • Fixed & Unavoidable Costs
    As is the case every year, certain cost increases are unavoidable. Salaries, insurance and pensions cost more. Utilities cost more. Just like in your family’s budget, inflation means it takes more money to provide the same services year over year.
  • Serving More Students
    Our student population is going up, too. We’re one of the very few urban districts in the country with increasing enrollment. That means more teachers, more support staff and more services provided to them.
  • New Schools
    Then there are the new schools opening up next year. We will add five new charter schools to our district, with an added cost of nearly $15 million attached to them, as well as the cost of planned enrollment increases at current charter schools. There’s a lot of debate about charter schools, but what isn’t debatable is the impact they have on the district budget. In 2013-14, $40 million will flow directly to 19 charter schools. Because there are no comparable offsets to district expenses at traditional schools, that means sizeable increases to our operating budget.
  • Vital Technology Needs
    Our technology needs are more pressing now than in years past. Moving to the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career readiness) assessments means many students have to start taking tests online. This means our technology infrastructure must get the upgrades it needs. We need the computers and internet backbone to allow thousands of students to take these computerized tests simultaneously.

Those four items make up the bulk of the budget increase. There aren’t a lot of major new programs or initiatives included. But there are needs in our Nashville schools that cannot be met without added funds.

Join the Board of Education for a public hearing on this budget on Tuesday, April 2, at 5:00 p.m. in the Board Room.

If you are unable to make it in person, you can watch the live-blog to see all that happens during the meeting.

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