Boys and Girls Club Tennessee Valley President and CEO Bart McFadden said the all-boys school will ultimately purchase the building at the end of the three-year lease. While the building will host Knox Prep’s campus, McFadden said the agreement won’t change much for students who currently attend the afterschool program at the Irwin St. building.
“Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley will continue to provide afterschool programs, a lot won’t change for the first couple years, but eventually we’ll move our elementary students out into schools and other shared space facilities within our community, but continue to serve middle and high school kids, especially the students at Knox Prep on site there,” McFadden said.
Knox Prep plans to open their doors to just sixth graders in August 2024. It is run by the same operators of the all-boys Chattanooga Preparatory School.
The charter application was the subject of heavy scrutiny during the approval process. The Knoxville chapter of the NAACP issued a statement asking that the application be withdrawn, asserting that it would negatively impact who attend, “some of our most challenged public schools.”
McFadden said leasing the building will provide the club with more funding, and give them the ability to reach a wider range of kids.
“Over the last few years, we’ve been pursuing a strategy to place our programs and our people in much closer proximity to where the kids that need our services and that we seek to serve, where they live and go to school,” he explained.
While the Irwin St. building has served many students in the past, the needs of the community have expanded.
“It’s been a centralized site for a long time and has the demographics of the community have shifted, there’s not a lot of kids that live in that immediate vicinity now,” McFadden said.
Overall, McFadden believes the decision will benefit kids in East Tennessee.
“We say in our organization we want every kid to reach their full potential,” he said. “We also want every dollar to reach full potential and it’s impact to kids so that’s what this will do.”
The Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley serves children aged 4-17 in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Claiborne and Loudon counties.