2 charter schools apply to open in Clarksville-Montgomery County for 2023-24

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Two education organizations have submitted applications to open charter schools in Montgomery County for the 2023-24 school year.

The two schools, if approved, would be the first charter schools to open in the district.

What is a charter school?

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools typically led by nonprofit organizations. So while charter schools are funded in the same way public schools are, they are overseen by independent, nonprofit bodies.

Organizations interested in opening a charter school have to submit an application to the school board for that district to receive an authorization, or charter, to open.

According to state law, local boards of education such as the Clarksville-Montgomery County School Board also have the power to monitor the academic and financial performance of charter schools. They also have the power to revoke charter agreements if the schools are not meeting local and state standards.

Charter schools can offer options that may not be available to students through public schools: some are traditional and academic focused, while others emphasize career and technical training.

American Classical Academy

American Classical Education Inc. based in Hillsdale, Michigan, has applied to open the American Classical Academy Clarksville-Montgomery, or ACACM. They have also applied to open two other charter schools in Tennessee in Rutherford and Madison counties.

According to its application, ACACM will center itself around the classical education model, with an emphasis on the core disciplines of math, science, literature and history with attention to music, art, physical education and foreign languages.

Their curriculum will be based on the Hillsdale K-12 model; as part of this model, students will also take classes in moral philosophy and American government.

ACACM said it will begin as a K-5 elementary school with 264 students. They plan to add a grade each year until 2033 when the school becomes a K-12, with a student body of 690 when it opens at full capacity.

There will be 60 spots in grades K-3, and 50 spots in each grade 4-12.

ACACM will operate on a lottery system with priority given to making its classical education model available to all families from every race, class and location, with a focus on those families who live nearest the school.

That location has not been picked yet, and ACACM is in the process of applying for its 501(c)3 status.

View ACACM’s full charter application here.

Oxton Academy

The second proposed charter for Clarksville-Montgomery County is the Oxton Academy Charter High School, sponsored by One on One Children’s Services Corps., a nonprofit based in Miami, Florida.

Instead of operating on a lottery system, Oxton said in its application to CMCSS they would reach out and target students who are economically underserved. To do this, they would conduct interviews and identify students who either dropped out of school or are at a risk of dropping out and invite them to apply.

According to its application, Oxton Academy will blend career training with a more traditional learning style, and would maintain small class sizes.

Through partnerships with local industry, Oxton would cater its education to meet the demands of sectors experiencing the most growth.

According to the application, the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Board of Development would partner with Oxton. Manufacturers like Hankook and LG Electronics would also serve as partners, and institutions like Bethel University, Austin Peay State University and the Tennessee College for Applied Technology would provide pathways to students that desire to continue their education.

The school would serve students in grades 9-12, and in their first year, they would have 200 seats available. When they open to full capacity by the year 2028, they would have a 337 seats at the school.

If the quota of students is not filled by their application deadline, eligible students will be enrolled and new applicants accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the quota is met.

View Oxton Academy’s full charter application here.

Next steps

A review committee appointed by the School Board comprised of district leaders and board members has been reviewing the applications since February. The committee interviewed both applicants on March 25, and the district has made audio recordings of both interviews available on their website.

The committee will present its evaluations and recommendations to the School Board on April 12, according to Anthony Johnson, CMCSS spokesman.

At a Special Called Voting Session on April 19, the board will make its final decision to approve or deny both applications.

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