kippnashville KIPP

KIPP gets OK for tax-free bonds to build elementary in Tennessee

Charter group secured approval for tax-exempt bonds even though the Metro Nashville school board did not approve of plans to build the school.

The Metro Nashville Health and Educational Facilities board has approved $13.6 million in tax exempt bonds that will enable KIPP Academy to build a charter elementary school in the Antioch community.

The Nashville Tennessean reports that project was approved despite objections from two Metro Council members who argued that it was inappropriate to approve a school that was initially rejected by the Nashville school board. 

KIPP already operates five schools in Nashville, and each one was approved by the local school board. But the Metro Nashville board rejected KIPP's most recent application; in response, KIPP took advantage of a new law that allows the state school board to approve charter schools.

KIPP Nashville Executive Director Randy Dowell says the school will open in temporary space next month with its initial class of kindergartners.

Dowell says the school would have been built even without the health and ed board's approval, but the approval will make construction less costly because the bonds are not taxed.

Metro council member Dave Rosenberg, an outspoken critic of charter schools, says approving the bonds would be like stabbing the Nashville school board in the back, because charter schools now know they can go to the state for approval and then to this board for their capital needs.

KIPP educates about 2,000 students in Nashville at its five existing schools. The new school will have about 140 kindergarten students and then add one grade per year through fourth grade. A middle school, scheduled to open in 2019, will begin fifth grade at the same location.

 

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