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Metro officials pan authorizer bill

By Chas Sisk

(From The Tennessean, February 18th, 2013)

Members of the Metro Council, the school board and the state legislature panned a bill that would take away Nashville’s ability to review new charter schools and urged Mayor Karl Dean and House Speaker Beth Harwell to walk away from it.

Twenty-two elected officials from Davidson County gathered Monday at Legislative Plaza in an attempt to derail a bill that would set up a state body to review applications for school charters in Nashville and Memphis. The measure, House Bill 702, was introduced last week and is scheduled to be taken up by a legislative committee on Tuesday.

The bill has split Nashville’s leadership. Dean, a Democrat, and Harwell, a Republican representing Green Hills, support the measure following last year’s rejection of Great Hearts Academies’ application for a charter. But most other elected officials in Davidson County oppose the bill, saying it strips away local control.

“Nobody is going to care for these kids as much as we do,” said Metro Councilman Steve Glover, who represents Hermitage. “I think the school board’s quite capable of doing their job.”

The dispute is the latest of several clashes between Metro’s Democratic-leaning government and the state’s Republican leaders. The dispute also represents another reverberation from the prolonged battle over Great Hearts’ plan to open a charter school in West Nashville. That proposal ultimately died last year when the Metro Board of Public Education defied the state to reject it.

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