Boys Prep Charter School Fights To Stay Open
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
MADISON, Tenn. - Charter schools are funded with your tax dollars. If they're not successful, they close. After high turnover and low performance, Boys Prep in Madison is trying to prove that they're worth the investment.
"We believe in teaching the young men character, excellence and brotherhood," Mark Tinsley, Director of Excellence explained while pointing to the school's mission that's displayed prominently on the walls.
There's no shortage of good intentions at Boys Prep charter school. The question is, are those intentions enough when addressing the academic needs of the school's more than one hundred 7th and 8th grade boys?
"Have there been struggles of course," Tinsley said. "But it's a matter of finding the right people that fit the mission."
Finding the right adults, not students, seems to be the biggest obstacle. There's been plenty of teacher turnover. Just last week the school principal resigned for medical reasons, forcing the school to find its third principal since opening last year.
It's another red flag for Metro Schools who officially placed Boys Prep on probation for "falling far below the standards set for academic, organizational and financial performance."
"People aren't seeing the relationships that we're building with these students," Chief Operating Officer Michelle Bouton said. "We know every single one of these students very, very well."
Administrators say a new strategic plan is addressing the academic concerns, it's new hires are a better fit and a search is underway for a new principal.
"I feel huge pressure," Bouton said. "But mostly I feel pressure that I have to keep this school open because the boys need to be at this school."
That's what keeps Bouton coming back. In fact, she's the only founding member that's stuck around through all of the ups and downs.
"Through all the struggles that we have been through I just keep coming in like, 'no this has to work,'" she said. "And it will, it will work."
If it doesn't work Metro Schools has already warned the school's charter could be revoked. What happens this school year will determine Boys Prep's future.