New Knox County charter school proposal passes despite teacher o

New Knox County charter school proposal passes despite teacher opposition

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Dozens of people gathered in Market Square in Downtown Knoxville Wednesday afternoon for a "Rally for Education," hoping to urge the school board to oppose a new charter school. Dozens of people gathered in Market Square in Downtown Knoxville Wednesday afternoon for a "Rally for Education," hoping to urge the school board to oppose a new charter school.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A proposal for a new charter school in Knox County passed a vote Wednesday night by the Knox County Board of Education.

The vote came just after 6 p.m at the school board meeting. The only "no" vote came from board member Karen Carson.

The application was submitted in April by the Emerald Youth Foundation and after a nearly two month review, the evaluation committee unanimously recommended the school.

Emerald Academy would be the first charter school in our area and if approved, could open its doors to students by Fall 2015.

School board member Indya Kincannon said at the meeting that Emerald's application is the best they've ever received.

More online: Read the recommendation [PDF]


Teachers rally against charter school proposal

Dozens of people gathered in Market Square in Downtown Knoxville Wednesday afternoon for a "Rally for Education," hoping to urge the school board to oppose a new charter school.

The proposal to make Emerald Academy Knox County's first charter school has been a frequent topic at school board meetings.

Previous story: Knox County Schools discuss budget reduction and charter school proposal


Just this week, four members voiced their support for approving it. The rest of the board was undecided.

Teachers, parents and community members say the rally is about voicing their opinions about recent decisions by the administration and school board. They say they plan to march to the City County Building for Wednesday night's school board meeting.

Their particular concern is the proposed charter school, especially in light of recent budget reductions.

"Our concern, and certainly those who care about public education, our concern is we're stretching already lean dollars thinner. Because when you open a charter school, you don't close classrooms in other places. You pull a few kids here and there," said former teacher, State Rep. Gloria Johnson. "So you don't open up any teaching positions. You don't save on any electricity or building costs. You've got additional building costs. So I think at a time when the budget is lean, we really need to think about this."


Amended budget passes

The school board also passed an amended budget, which withdraws an initial proposal for a 3.5 percent raise for teachers across the district. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's initial budget proposal only funded $427.8 million of the school system's $432,335,000 request. Funds for the school system were further reduced when the state cut basic education program (BEP) funding for the schools.

Previous story: Knox County Commission approves revised budget, shoots down tax increase

The school system's plan to deal with the budget shortfall include eliminating plans for teacher salary raises, not budgeting a reserve for hiring new employees to deal with class size issues, and eliminating a central office position and an instructional coach position.

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