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Rural Tenn. County Remains Charter School-Free After Applicant Denied

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By Jackie Mader. Cross posted from the Rural Education blog.

A school board in rural Cheatham County, Tenn., has rejected an application for what would have been the county's first charter school, according to a recent article in The Tennessean.

The charter school was proposed to open in 2015 with a class of 5th grade students, with the intention of adding a grade each year until 12th grade. Cheatham County, which serves about 6,800 students, is located just northwest of Nashville, where more than 18 charter schools have opened since 2003. 

Nationwide, only about 16 percent of charter schools are in rural areas. According to the National Alliance For Public Charter Schools, eight states, several of which are mostly rural, do not allow charter schools.

A recent Education Week article detailed the unique challenges that these schools face, including fewer options for facilities and smaller pools of students and teachers to tap into. Rural charter schools also often face opposition from the community over concerns that school districts will lose funds when students leave to attend charter schools. 

Supporters of rural charter schools say the schools can add jobs and provide school choice, especially in  communities where the few local schools may be low-performing.

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