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HomeEducationMemphis’ Libertas Faculty to take possession of its constructing

Memphis’ Libertas Faculty to take possession of its constructing

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After working as a visitor in a former Frayser elementary faculty constructing for seven years, Libertas Faculty of Memphis will quickly personal the place — and officers are planning to renovate and broaden the varsity.

The Memphis-Shelby County Faculties board on Tuesday agreed to promote the previous Brookmeade Elementary Faculty constructing, situated at 3777 Edenburg Drive, to the constitution faculty for $725,000.

Because the official proprietor of the constructing, Libertas can lastly take the lead on elevating funds to deal with tens of millions of {dollars} of deferred upkeep and cope with area constraints. The acquisition may also assist solidify Libertas’ long-term imaginative and prescient — mainly, its dedication to Frayser, a predominantly poor, Black neighborhood.

“We all the time have been — and all the time will probably be — before everything a neighborhood faculty,” mentioned Bob Nardo, government director of Libertas. “We need to keep in Frayser eternally. We don’t need to transfer.”

Libertas stands out as one of many few success tales within the decade since Tennessee launched its Achievement Faculty District to supervise and repair dozens of chronically underperforming colleges throughout the state, largely in Memphis and Nashville. 

A lot of these colleges have did not make vital progress, and are being returned to their residence districts anyway, together with 4 Frayser colleges which are shifting again to MSCS within the fall. However beneath a brand new state legislation enacted final spring, higher-performing charters at the moment are allowed to depart the ASD, bypass their native districts, and apply on to the state Public Constitution Faculty Fee for authorization. Libertas is amongst three Memphis colleges that at the moment are making that transition.

Nardo opened Libertas — the primary public Montessori constitution faculty in Tennessee — in 2015 with the cost of turning round Brookmeade, which was on the time the second-lowest-achieving elementary faculty within the state, as measured by state standardized check scores.

Libertas has since constructed a repute for its robust educational efficiency — regardless of serving a pupil inhabitants that faces heightened obstacles to studying. Of Libertas’ over 400 college students in pre-kindergarten by way of fifth grade, almost 90% are Black, Hispanic, or Native American, over half come from low-income households, and almost 1 / 4 obtain particular schooling providers.

Libertas has set itself other than most different Memphis colleges, reaching the state’s twenty fifth percentile in proficiency and incomes the best attainable composite scores on the Tennessee Worth-Added Evaluation System, which measures educational development — even final 12 months, because the pandemic harm studying throughout the nation. As well as, Libertas’ Black college students are reaching within the high half of the state, and college students with disabilities are performing within the high 15% within the state, based on TVAAS scores.

That document is one among many causes Glen Hancox’s three grandchildren attend Libertas, although they stay in Whitehaven. His grandson, Elijah Campbell, began there in kindergarten.

Hancox credit the small, tight-knit constitution faculty and the individualized consideration from academics with getting ready Elijah for center faculty.

Whereas Elijah is now a seventh grader at College Center Faculty, his Libertas music academics proceed to supply him non-public piano and drum classes, and his basketball coach plans to “give him some pointers” someday over the summer time, Hancox mentioned.

“It’s been a great expertise for all of my grandchildren,” Hancox mentioned. “It’s form of a household custom at this level.”

As Libertas begins planning renovations and an enlargement, Hancox is raring to see how his two youthful granddaughters profit — one who’s transferring into first grade and the opposite getting ready for age-3 pre-kindergarten. 

Libertas officers are nonetheless engaged on a grasp plan, Nardo mentioned, however the high precedence is tackling crucial deferred upkeep, comparable to changing the varsity’s roof and HVAC system.

Nardo’s subsequent precedence is creating extra area for Libertas’ massive particular schooling program — the varsity serves the biggest focus of scholars with disabilities of any operator within the ASD — in addition to its music program. 

At the moment, the constructing is full and fully utilized, and Nardo says further area for particular schooling and designated refrain and band areas is badly wanted.

Nardo expects development will start subsequent summer time and final a couple of 12 months.

Samantha West is a reporter for Chalkbeat Tennessee, the place she covers Ok-12 schooling in Memphis. Join with Samantha at swest@chalkbeat.org.



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