The future of Knox County's first charter school is in the hands of the state.
Leaders from the Knoxville Charter Academy made their case to the Tennessee Board of Education Monday morning.
Knox County's Board of Education approved the charter school in December 2010. The school's founders say they still need more time to find a building and are asking state officials for an additional six months.
"If Knoxville Charter Academy is given an extension of time to obtain and secure the needed infrastructure, then Knoxville Charter Academy will have the opportunity to demonstrate 'Can they provide a high quality school?'," said Daniel Ellis, attorney for Knoxville Charter Academy. "We believe they can."
Charter school leaders proposed using the former Bridgewater Baptist Church in West Knoxville. That plan wasn't submitted until less than a month before their deadline.
Knox County's school board rejected the idea, and the superintendent says their efforts are too little too late.
"In the 16 months between December of 2010 and April 2012, the Knoxville Charter Academy demonstrated almost no discernible progress toward developing and opening a high quality school," said Dr. Jim McIntyre. "To put it in an academic terms, you can't not study for the entire semester then pull an all-niter the night before an exam and expect to get an A."
The school insists that's not the case. Founders say they looked at more than one hundred locations and have identified four more possibilities in the last two weeks.
"We've been working towards this for the past two years now," said Suzan Mertyurek, President of the KCA Board. "We have a very strong curriculum, a very strong application, that's the reason our charter was approved and we've done a lot of work towards finding a building."
They plan to continue that work until the State Board of Education makes a decision later this month.
If the appeal is denied, they can re-apply for a new charter under the county's recently adopted policy of requesting proposals for charter schools.
"I think that's going to improve the quality of applications that we get and those applications will be required to address the specific needs of the education of children here in our community," McIntyre said.
The State Board of Education meets on July 27th. Mertyurek said there are no plans to request additional time if the state rules in their favor and are still unable to find a location after six months.