SCS rejects initial proposal to open 18 new charter schools, including Catholic Jubilee schools

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Schools rejected a proposal from 10 education groups that want to open 18 new charter schools, including a group hoping to keep the Catholic Jubilee schools in Memphis open as part of a charter network.

"It's really common for a charter application to be rejected on the first round," Chalkbeat TN community editor Carolina Bauman said.

Thursday, SCS administrators told board members they had concerns about possible staffing and the vision and mission for New Day schools moving forward.

New Day is the group led by Christian Brothers University President Dr. John Smarrelli who, in February, said it would step in and run the Jubilee schools in the 2019-2020 school year as Compass Community Schools.

In January, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis said it would shutter the schools after the 2018-2019 school year citing funding challenges.

The Jubilee schools were created to give low-income students access to a private school education. Memphis' model has been replicated across the country.

But if the schools open as charters, they can have no mentions of religion.

"That move isn't unprecedented. It's been done in other cities, but it is a difficult task to determine your vision and mission," Bauman said.

Bauman added that if New Day's application is approved, they'd be the largest charter operator in Memphis.

"We are going to take the issues seriously. We are committed to opening these schools in 2019 and what we are going to do in that case is revise our proposals," Smarrelli said.

He added that the group will work to shore up the issues SCS administrators addressed, but the goal of operating the schools year after next has not changed.

"We are optimistic we will get support for these schools. There's so much support from parents to corporations to other entities in the Memphis region," Smarrelli said.

The school board will get to vote in a few weeks on the charter application and whether to accept the district's recommendations.

If there is a denial, the operators would then have another chance to file amended paperwork.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.