At least 57 private schools have taken the first formal step to participate in Tennessee’s new voucher program beginning with the upcoming school year.

Leaders for 30 schools in the Memphis area, 26 in the Nashville area, and one in Knoxville have completed the state’s online form indicating their intent to participate. The list is based on information provided to Chalkbeat by the Department of Education through a public records request.

But some schools may drop out or be culled in the application process to come. Deputy Commissioner Amity Schuyler, who is leading the program’s rollout, anticipates 50 schools will be part of Gov. Bill Lee’s education savings account program in its first year. She aims to have a list of approved schools by this spring when applications open for interested families.

Under Tennessee’s 2019 voucher law, the schools must be state-accredited and will have to provide legal assurances that all employees have undergone the same level of background checks required of public schools through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The schools also face a July 1 deadline to register their bank accounts with Class Wallet, the vendor hired by the department to manage online payments under the new program.

Lee has pledged to help low-income students in districts with failing schools by giving them more education options. His plan is to give taxpayer money to their families to pay for private school tuition or other private education services.

Getting high-quality private schools to sign on is viewed as crucial to the success of the program, which will launch with up to 5,000 students zoned for Shelby County Schools, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, and the state-run Achievement School District.

In 2016, most private schools in Memphis were on the fence about participating under a different voucher proposal that would have required them to accept the voucher amount as the full cost of tuition and fees. But Tennessee’s new law does not include that cap. In Memphis and Nashville, the price tag for a private education is typically at least twice the average annual voucher amount of $7,000.

Schools expressing intent to participate are:

Memphis area

  • Bodine School, Germantown
  • Bornblum Jewish Community School, Memphis
  • Brinkley Heights Urban Academy, Memphis
  • Central Baptist School, Memphis
  • Christian Brothers High School, Memphis
  • Christ the King Lutheran School, Memphis
  • Collegiate School of Memphis
  • Creative Life Inc., Memphis
  • Evangelical Christian School, Cordova
  • Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal School, Memphis
  • Greater Praise Christian Academy, Memphis
  • Immaculate Conception Cathedral School, Memphis
  • Immanuel Lutheran School, Memphis
  • Incarnation Catholic School, Collierville
  • Harding Academy of Memphis
  • Holy Rosary Catholic School, Memphis
  • Hutchison School, Memphis
  • Memphis Heritage Christian School, Memphis
  • Pleasant View School, Memphis
  • Presbyterian Day School, Memphis
  • SE Academy Independent School, Memphis
  • Sensational Enlightenment, Memphis
  • St. Ann Catholic School, Bartlett
  • St. Benedict at Auburndale, Cordova
  • St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, Cordova
  • St. George’s Independent School, Collierville
  • St. Louis Catholic School, Memphis
  • St. Paul Catholic School, Memphis
  • Woodland Presbyterian School, Memphis
  • Word of Faith Christian Academy, Memphis

Nashville area

  • Akiva School, Nashville
  • Benton Hall Academy, Nashville
  • Born Again Christian Academy, Nashville
  • Christ the King School, Nashville
  • Dayspring Academy, Greenbrier
  • Ezell-Harding Christian School, Antioch
  • Gateway Academy, Nashville
  • Lighthouse Christian School, Antioch
  • Linden Waldorf School, Nashville
  • Hendersonville Christian Academy, Hendersonville
  • Holy Rosary Academy, Nashville
  • Montessori East, Nashville
  • Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville
  • Pleasant View Christian School, Pleasant View
  • Pope John Paul II High School, Hendersonville
  • St. Ann School, Nashville
  • St. Henry School, Nashville
  • St. John Vianney School, Gallatin
  • St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Murfreesboro
  • St. Clement Coptic Orthodox Christian Academy, Nashville
  • St. Edward School, Nashville
  • St. Joseph School, Madison
  • St. Matthew School, Franklin
  • St. Pius X Classical Academy, Nashville
  • South Haven Christian School, Springfield
  • Templeton Academy, Nashville

Elsewhere

  • First Lutheran School, Knoxville