Public-Private Partnership

Public-Private Partnership Raises More Than $5 Million to Enhance New MNPS Elementary Schools
Posted on 04/26/2024
Board members with Shannon Martin and Katie Agnew

Board of Education team with Shannon Martin and Katie Agnew

Philanthropist Shannon Martin and Katie Agnew joined with superintendent Dr. Adrienne Battle and Metro Nashville Public Schools to set a new precedent, raising more than $5 million to enhance the designs of three elementary schools undergoing renovations or replacements with the goal of expanding the student gathering spaces.

Education nonprofit PENCIL, whose mission is linking community resources to Metro Nashville Public Schools, will serve as fiscal agent to facilitate gifts from private donors to the district in support of the project.

Design specifications were changed to allow for larger gymnasiums at Percy Priest and Lakeview elementaries, while an expanded cafeteria and upgraded playtorium is being designed for the renovation of Paragon Mills, all of which were funded in the FY23 and FY24 capital spending plans presented by Mayor John Cooper and Mayor Freddie O’Connell, respectively.

Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Schools, highlighted the district-wide benefits of this partnership.

"Thanks to the generosity of our community partners, we are able to make significant enhancements to our school facilities that go beyond the standard provisions. These spaces will serve as hubs for student engagement and learning, reinforcing our commitment to creating environments where all students can succeed. Together, we identified a need to ensure an equitable experience for all students, leading to an expansion of this program to other elementary schools funded for renovation/replacement in this latest cohort of capital projects."

The idea to change the specifications was first championed by Katie Agnew, now former PTO President at Percy Priest Elementary, with the concept of creating a larger and improved space where all students and staff could gather for school-wide events, in addition to improvements in the gymnasium for athletic events.

Shannon Martin, a philanthropist and parent at Percy Priest, helped to spearhead a fundraising effort with private donors to raise the funds. "Initially, we wanted to enhance the gym at Percy Priest, but it soon became clear that we had an opportunity to broaden our impact,” said Martin. “By including Lakeview and Paragon Mills in our efforts, we ensure that more of our young learners have the spaces they need to thrive."

Moving forward, the district has updated educational specifications for future elementary school projects to ensure that all new and renovated schools will have these types of facilities, which support school communities and improve student experiences.

Erin O'Hara Block, Board of Education Member representing the district that includes Percy Priest, also praised the initiative. "This partnership is a model of how public and private sectors can come together to make a lasting difference in the lives of our students. It's a testament to our community's commitment to educational excellence and equity."

Percy Priest, Lakeview, and Paragon Mills are set to be open by the start of the 2025-26 school year, with some ongoing work continuing through the school year to complete construction, supporting an expansion of the number of seats available at those schools as well as improved learning environments. Funding for new and improved facilities is provided to Metro Schools through the city’s Capital Improvement Budget and Capital Spending Plans.

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School Construction,Public-Private Partnerships