The Metro Nashville School Board has approved a new charter school hoping to offer a dual-language education for the city’s Spanish-speaking children.
Aventura Community School applied to open a K-8 school in Southeast Nashville beginning fall 2022. Its application was originally denied by the school board, but after the school returned with a revised application, the board approved the school in a 5-3 decision Tuesday evening.
School board chair Christiane Buggs had never voted to approve a charter school’s application before, but ultimately felt Aventura Community School offered language support that the district does not provide.
“We’ve asked for a decade to have more funding for translators and for training for our teachers, but we have not been able to do it,” she said. “This school, again based on what we saw in the original plan, based on what we saw here, and what they were able to provide to me tangibly, it seemed like they met the standard.”
But not all board members were convinced that the language services were enough to warrant another charter school in the district.
Board member Abigail Tylor voted against the application, explaining, “What I would love to see is a collaboration between the board of Aventura and MNPS, so that we can take what you want do and find a way to work it into our existing schools.”
Nearly 30% of Nashville public schoolchildren identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to last year’s enrollment. While Glendale Elementary School offers a Spanish-language immersion program, only a fraction come in speaking a language other than English. That prompted a debate among the school board of whether another bilingual school for Spanish-speaking families would be popular.
Sharon Gentry believes it will be. She voted in favor of the charter school and said she wishes she had a similar opportunity growing up regarding her father’s primary language, Louisiana Creole.
“It’s not a Glendale, it’s not a Spanish-immersion [school], it’s not taking some of our most affluent families and getting them an opportunity to learn a second language,” she said. “This is a different opportunity for a population of students that has a need that I don’t believe we’re capable of meeting.”