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Three Mississippi Cities are Gearing Up for Charter Schools

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 20 May 2014 10:49pm | comments

Mississippi could soon see its first charter schools open in Jackson, Natchez and Columbus. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports on the final steps of the process.

The state's charter school authorizer board is seeking public comments on a proposed charter school in Jackson tonight. The Charter School Authorizing Board says hearing from the public is a key component in making charter schools a success.  Johnny Franklin  of Bolton is a Charter School Authorizing Board member. 

"So it’s of the utmost importance that we do it correctly and that we scrutinize the evaluation process, all the forms and the application itself. Putting all that together in a process that we trust and will follow that process to its conclusion on June 2nd."

Franklin says a public hearing will also take place Thursday night in Natchez where another charter school has also received pre-clearance based on a long list of applicants.

" It's about providing children with a quality opportunity. We all know the social statistics of those who don't. So I know every member of the board thinks and feels that way. We have an opportunity to assist children and that's first and foremost in our minds."

Charter schools are publicly funded, independently operated public schools that do not charge tuition or fees. However,  Marilyn Young, a school board member in Tunica County says she is opposed to charter schools saying  they will take away from the already under funded public schools in the state.

"For every 100 children that you lose out of the public school system that's a million dollar hit to a local school district budget.  But if the state legislators will properly fund the public school system as it exists, a lot of the problems and the disparities that we see will be alleviated."

Mississippi lawmakers approved charter schools last year to give parents options to failing public schools. The school’s curriculum would revolve around project based learning, character and leadership development among other things.  The board plans to finalize the first round of contracts June 2nd. If approved the state’s first charter schools could be operational by 2015.  Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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