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  • Positive Momentum For Resetting Charter School Conversation

    by Marc Hill | Aug 29, 2014
    What a difference two years can make. In 2012, the Metro school board was consumed for nearly a year with the Great Hearts charter school application, a standoff between the school board and the State of Tennessee that made everyone involved look bad. Most galling, to many business leaders, was the $3.4 million in state funds that Metro Schools lost as the result of the fiasco.

    So, what’s changed between 2012 and 2014? For one, after more than a decade of reacting to whatever charter school applicants happen to propose, Metro Schools is now asking potential charter operators to consider the district’s strategic needs. Perhaps more importantly, it appears that the school district administration and a majority of the board now recognize that the district’s lowest-performing schools are not improving fast enough, and that the charter sector will need to play a greater role in turning these schools around.

    The most recent step forward for Metro Schools on this issue took place on Aug. 21, when the school board voted to approve the amended application of STRIVE Academy, a charter middle school proposed for the McGavock cluster that was initially rejected in June. The Metro School board’s recent vote means ...
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    Category: Education
  • Education Committee Looking Forward To a Great Year

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 29, 2014
    The Chamber’s Education Committee convened for their first meeting of the 2014-2015 school year on Aug. 26. Committee members are volunteer leaders in the Chamber’s multi-year strategy to improve K-12 public schools.

    Members heard from Chris Henson, Metro Schools' CFO, and Dr. Julie McCargar, executive director of federal programs and grant management, about the 2014-2015 MNPS budget.

    Henson and McCargar provided an overview of Tennessee's Basic Education Program (BEP) -- the funding formula through which state education dollars are generated and distributed to Tennessee schools -- as well as the process by which schools receive local funding. They also discussed the budget process, including how it is planned, how expenditures are allocated, and current and future capital projects. The budget, once created by MNPS, must be approved by the mayor and Metro Council. McCargar also discussed a number of federal revenue sources for MNPS, including grants such as Race to the Top and Title I dollars.

    The Education Committee also met new school board members Tyese Hunter (District 6) and Mary Pierce (District 8), who were elected in August and will be sworn in at the school board's first September meeting. They both shared their eagerness to help improve Metro ...
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  • Freshman Career Fair Set for Oct. 29

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 28, 2014

    Fair allows thousands of ninth-graders to explore career choices

    The "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair provides an avenue for high school freshmen in Metro Nashville Public Schools to explore a breadth of career areas. This is a first, important step to helping them understand how high school prepares them for college and career, and how the business partners engaged with the Academies of Nashville assist with that preparation.

    This year’s sixth annual career fair will host approximately 7,000 ninth-graders from MNPS’ zoned high schools, magnet and choice schools and charter high schools on Wednesday, October 29 at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville.  

    Prior to attending the career fair, students will have completed career exploration research, guided by their school faculty, in preparation for their visits. They will have also learned about professional dress and behavior. Once at the career fair, they will speak with business volunteers, ask questions, and participate in hands-on activities. In addition to the career fair and the career exploration research, students also participate in an essay contest, a social media campaign, and other post-fair activities to reinforce what they’ve learned and to help them continue to think regularly about their ...

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    Category: Education
  • Business Leaders Help Guide High School Academies

    by Whitney Weeks | Aug 27, 2014
    Four times each academic year, nearly 120 supporters of the Academies of Nashville review achievement data, celebrate student successes, and determine how the local business and nonprofit communities can best continue their support of the 42 career academies found in Metro Nashville Public Schools’ 12 zoned high schools. Divided into five industry clusters that are each supported by a Partnership Council, these 120 supporters represent nearly 100 businesses and non-profit organizations. Each Partnership Council is led by a volunteer chair. Collectively, the councils are managed by the Nashville Area Chamber, with additional support provided by the PENCIL Foundation and MNPS.

    The Partnership Councils play an integral role in supporting the Academies of Nashville. These industry experts ensure academies and their career pathways are aligned with regional workforce projections, and that all students are well-prepared to earn appropriate industry certifications or dual-enrollment course credit before graduation. Partnership Council members also help provide academy teaching teams with opportunities for work-based externships, giving teachers valuable experiences and a chance to engage in lesson development with industry professionals.

    With the engagement of Partnership Council member volunteers, MNPS’s academies model is able to work effectively and authentically. The Chamber is proud to support the work ...
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    Category: Education
  • Sumner County Leaders Partner with Nashville Chamber to Focus on Postsecondary Attainment

    by Laura Moore | Aug 15, 2014
    Middle Tennessee has a math problem. By 2021, we are projected to be short 35,000 workers to fill the jobs that are coming to the region. Part of solving that equation will mean finding new and innovative ways to get students and adults to pursue education and training after high school. That was the message that united a group of leaders from Sumner County at a meeting last month hosted by Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt, Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves and Portland Mayor Ken Wilber.

    The meeting was a follow-up to the 2013 Nashville Region’s Vital Signs report, which tracks key issues that impact the region’s economic well-being. One of the key findings from the 2013 report is the need to increase the number of adults with postsecondary degrees across Middle Tennessee. Leaders from higher education, Sumner County Schools, Forward Sumner, local chambers of commerce and area businesses, as well as state representatives and elected officials from Goodlettsville, Westmoreland and White House, participated in the discussion. The session was facilitated by Vital Signs Action Team leaders Ron Corbin, principal, RBBC Holdings, and Joey Hatch, co-COO, Skanska.

    Over the last few years, Sumner County has taken significant steps to increase ...
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    Category: Policy
  • Transit, Mobility Remain Key Chamber Priorities

    by Debby Dale Mason | Aug 14, 2014
    If you struggle with your daily commute, you're not alone. Traffic is the factor American urban dwellers say they like least about their cities, according to a study released by Sasaki Associates, a Massachusetts-based design and planning firm.

    Though the study was limited to six cities (Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), its findings are highly relevant to Nashville, particularly as our city continues to experience rapid growth and its attendant traffic congestion. As we consider Nashville's future, we need to ensure our city is welcoming, accessible and attractive to a wide variety of people. Making it as easy as possible for people to move throughout our region is a key component of that goal.

    While we project our strong economy, high quality of life and low cost of living will continue to make Nashville one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, we need to be smart and strategic about how we plan to accommodate that growth. Earlier this year, the Nashville Business Journal reported on a study that rates Nashville as the 33rd most-congested city in the Western Hemisphere, and the 23rd most-congested city in the U.S. Average commuting times are only getting longer ...
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    Category: Transit
  • Pick Your Nashville

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 12, 2014
    As you may know, the Chamber is a steering committee member and a pillar of NashvilleNext, the process to update the city’s 25-year master plan. For the last two years, we have worked with the Metro Planning Department and leaders across the county to find out what Nashville residents want for the future. Now, we’re wrapping up another phase of the public input process, known as Pick Your Nashville, and we want to make sure you're part of it.

    Based on your input in previous phases, the Planning Department has drawn up three “Futures” that affect everything from housing to economic development. We’re asking you to choose which Future you prefer by taking the NashvilleNext online survey or attending one of the remaining NashvilleNext Lounges, where you can speak with city planners about what’s important to you.

    These Futures offer very different versions of how Nashville could grow. We could continue our current patterns under “Business as Usual,” or we could create hubs of economic activity throughout the county under “Centers with Adjacent Infill.” If you’d prefer to see a stronger downtown that branches out along the county’s transportation arteries, “Downtown and Pikes” ...
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    Category: General
  • Entrepreneurial Spotlight: Beth Chase, president and CEO, c3/consulting

    by Stephanie Coleman | Aug 07, 2014
    With the application deadline approaching for the 2014 NEXT Awards, we asked Beth Chase, president and CEO of c3/consulting, to share her insights on Nashville’s business community and entrepreneurial environment. Beth won the NEXT Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 and NEXT Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013.

    Why did you choose Nashville for your business?

    Nashville’s been in the spotlight recently -- and rightfully so. I believed in Nashville long before Nashville was cool, AND I’ll continue to believe in Nashville because this city warrants it. Why?

    • Thriving business community: Nashville’s economy is supported by the unique combination of Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial organizations that are headquartered here. The country (and world) is beginning to understand the ecosystem that committed individuals are building in Nashville to support innovation and new business development. The secret’s out, and it’s easy to see why more and more companies are considering moving here. Even better, it’s exciting to see them thrive when they do decide to make the move.

    • Committed community: I serve on the boards of a number of community organizations, and my fellow c3 team members serve on at least 100 others. We live in a community that understands ...
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  • Back-to-School Is the Perfect Time to Get Involved

    by Whitney Weeks | Aug 01, 2014
    Next Wednesday, Aug. 6, marks the first day of school for Metro Nashville Public Schools students. For my household, the beginning of the school year means new notebooks, sharpened pencils, and graphing calculators. For students enrolled in the Academies of Nashville, it means career-focused field trips, college tours and ACT words-of-the-day. Whatever their age or grade, next week marks a new opportunity for all students to excel. This time of year is equally important, though, for those of us long past our primary and secondary education days. A successful public school system plays a vital role in our community, and it behooves us all to ensure students do well.

    Strong engagement from the business community is critical to the growth and improvement of our public schools. There are many ways businesses – large and small – can connect in a meaningful way. From providing school or classroom supplies to making it easy for staff to serve as volunteer mentors or tutors, hundreds of businesses in our community support MNPS every day. The Omni Hotel conducts a hotel-wide back to school supply drive. LP Building Products and Griffin Technology are just two of the Nashville companies that host summer externships for ...
    Category: Education
  • Join the Transportation Conversation

    by Rita McDonald | Jul 24, 2014
    As Nashville grows, it's more important than ever that we, as a community, develop long-term solutions that help residents, workers and visitors access our city. The Chamber has made transit and mobility one of our top priorities because we know it is crucial to our region's continued prosperity.

    We encourage you to attend the NashvilleNext Community Conversation about transportation on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 4-6 p.m., at Municipal Auditorium, 417 Fourth Ave. N. The special guest speaker will be Gabe Klein of the Urban Land Institute, who has served as transportation chief for Chicago and Washington, D.C.

    The Nashville Area Chamber is a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee, a group leading a strategic planning process that will guide our city's growth through 2040. As city planners frame policies that will guide our growth for the next 25 years, it's essential for them to hear from local leaders like you. Please plan to participate in this meeting. You can RSVP for the event here, and explore different options to arrive at the event here.

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    Category: Transit