School district to explore turning PES into a fine arts magnet school

The Cheatham County School District is exploring the possibility of turning Pegram Elementary School into a fine arts magnet school beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

The option is being considered in order to increase the school’s enrollment.

According to a recent study conducted by the district, there has been a decline in enrollment in the Pegram area due to low birth rates coupled with limited residential growth.

Director of Schools Dr. Cathy Beck told School Board members at Tuesday’s workshop that district supervisors are currently researching the fine arts magnet school option.

School leaders will be visiting successful fine arts magnet schools and meeting with Tennessee Department of Education officials as they develop a plan, which will likely be presented as an option to the School Board in January.

In a fine arts magnet school, art is integrated into the four core academic areas: Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. Special art classes could focus on drawing, painting, sculpting and theatre. Additionally, specialized music classes could be offered and physical education classes could focus on dance and other art-related physical activities.

If PES is turned into a fine arts magnet school, students currently zoned for the school would continue to attend there. Students from other schools in the district could attend there as well as students from surrounding counties - if they provide their own transportation. This option would also be open to students who are currently homeschooled.

“We are in the exploratory stages right now. We would like to increase our enrollment at Pegram, and we believe transforming the school into a fine arts magnet school would help the district accomplish this. Art has always been a big part of the culture at Pegram,” Beck said.

PES has been the recipient of many Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee grants through the years to incorporate arts into the classroom.

Expanding the arts would complement the strong academic achievement at PES, which was recently recognized as a “Reward School” by the Tennessee Department of Education.

The five pillars of a fine arts magnet school are diversity, innovative curriculum/professional development, academic excellence, high-quality instructional systems and family/community partnerships.

“These pillars directly represent the goals of our five-year plan,” Beck said.