Knoxville leaders to discuss future of Career Magnet Academy

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Local Knoxville leaders will soon meet to discuss whether or not to close the Career Magnet Academy.

Several different issues have forced the discussion.

First, is a drop in enrollment. The number of students in the freshman class dropping from 101 to 55.
Right now there are three options on the table.

These options include immediately closing the school, sun-setting the program by not accepting new students for the 2019-2020 school year or redesigning Career Magnet Academy to turn it into an early college model, which would require the most funding. 

The future of career magnet is scheduled to be discussed on January 16 during a school work session.

A number of parents have concerns ahead of the decision.

Taria Thomas’s daughter is a sophomore at Career Magnet Academy, “And she has flourished so much, so much.”

Thomas says she plans on attending the School Board works session Wednesday night. 

“This program just started and it’s doing so well. I don’t understand why we would just want to shut that school down,” said Thomas.

Many parents are worried because the future of the school isn’t guaranteed.

“My first question was why,” said Thomas.

After five years of existence, school leaders say they did an in-depth review and found a number of concerns.

“It comes down to finances. We have a really tight budget and we put about $2.5 million into this school every year. And so that leaves you the question of do we continue to put more resources into a school that doesn’t have full capacity,” said Evetty Satterfield, Knox County School Board member for District 1.

There are three options for school leaders to decide:

  • Closing the school. No new students will be accepted and students will be transitioned back to their base school as of Fall 2019
  • Beginning a two year sunset program. Accepting no incoming freshmen for the 2019-20 school year. Sophomores and those juniors and seniors who’ve not met ACT benchmarks will return to base schools. Juniors and seniors who’ve met ACT benchmarks may complete their program at Career Magnet Academy.
  • Redesign CMA, turning it into an early college model which requires more funding and more course offerings by Pellissippi State Community College.

“We haven’t made a decision. There are other options that could come up,” said Satterfield.

Parents, like Thomas, hoping school board members search their heart and vote with their conscience.

“It’s not just a school, it’s a family, where a child can flourish. A child can get the education they need and they do not fall through the cracks,” said Thomas.

We’re told an informational meeting was held Monday night for parents and students at CMA.

“We do hear you all and I do hope that we make the best decision for the future of Knox County Schools,” added Satterfield.

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