Frayser Community Schools applies to run ASD school following Gestalt’s exit

Three months after one charter network announced plans to leave the state’s Achievement School District, another has formally applied to step in at one of the two schools affected.

Frayser Community Schools submitted its application late Tuesday to operate Humes Preparatory Academy Middle after Gestalt Community Schools exits Tennessee’s turnaround district this spring.

Frayser is the only charter to formally throw its hat in the ring, but ASD officials emphasized on Wednesday that the Memphis-based operator isn’t guaranteed selection. The ASD will host a community meeting at Humes on Jan. 11 to discuss the school’s status.

“The point of having this public meeting is for Frayser to re-introduce itself to the community and display fitness to take on the school,” said Bobby White, the ASD’s chief of external affairs. “We want to be deliberate about who will manage this school, and it’s not in the bag. It’s not a done deal just because no one else is in the competition.”

However, Frayser’s application increases the possibility that Humes could remain open next school year. Of Gestalt’s two ASD schools in North Memphis, Humes has a higher enrollment and is closer to operating at capacity. Underenrollment was cited as the primary reason that Gestalt leaders decided to pull out at the end of the year.

The future looks less bright for Klondike Preparatory Academy Elementary, which could be among the ASD’s first schools to close. No operators, including the state’s own Achievement Schools, have stepped forward to run that school. The ASD will hold a community meeting at Klondike on Jan. 19. White said parents are being updated about a neighboring school to which students could be assigned.

Frayser currently operates only one school, MLK College Preparatory High, also an ASD school in Memphis. It was founded in 2014 by Memphis native Bobby White, who is no relation to the ASD’s Bobby White. A graduate of Frayser High School, White was a 12-year teacher, coach and administrator with Memphis City Schools before the district merged with Shelby County Schools in 2013.

The ASD’s White said leaders for the state-run district hope to determine by the end of January whether Frayser Community Schools will be tapped for Humes. He said the decision will be based on public feedback and how Frayser’s application stacks against a rubric the ASD has created.