published Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Hamilton County law and business-themed charter school delays opening

  • photo
    President and Executive Director of Smart Schools Inc. Tommie Henderson poses in this file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Leaders of Hamilton County's planned law and business-themed charter school will wait another year before opening.

The New Consortium of Law and Business was approved in March, after the Hamilton County Board of Education twice denied its application.

The school could have opened in August of this year, but organizers now have set their sights on an August 2013 opening, said Tommie Henderson, president and executive director of SMART Schools Inc., the group overseeing the charter.

"Because we were so late in the year and the opening of the school would be rushed, we are going to take a year of planning and get to know the community before we actually open our school," Henderson said.

The New Consortium's plans call for 35 students in the school's first year, rising eventually to 210 students in grades six through 12.

Henderson said the school will combine two cornerstones of entrepreneurship -- understanding the law and understanding business -- to better prepare students to compete in the global marketplace.

While he's not ready to disclose the site of the new school, Henderson said it will most likely land downtown.

"We believe the downtown area of Chattanooga is an area that we should consider. At the same time, we need to talk to other areas of the community to see if there's a need that's much more immediate," he said.

No agreements have been signed between the two organizations, but Hamilton County Schools Assistant Superintendent Lee McDade said the charter and the school district have reached consensus on many items in negotiations. The planning year should allow the group to address whatever concerns schools officials have, he said.

"We're hopeful that it will be a successful charter school," McDade said. "They've got some time to get some of their ducks in a row there. And we're going to let them."

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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