Nine charter schools vying to open in 2023

Nine proposed charter schools have made it to the second round of Mississippi’s application process.

All applicants are looking to open in 2023, with all but one run by new entrants.

While most schools would offer only one or two grades at launch, if approved they will eventually serve a larger group of students. Is it so:

  • Columbus Leadership Academy, grades K-8 in the Columbus Municipal School District
  • Level-Up Academy Public, grades K-12 in the Greenville Public School District
  • Mound Bayou New Millennial High, grades 7-12 in the North Bolivar Consolidated School District
  • Natchez-Adams Early Childhood and Intermediate Center, grades K-5 in the Natchez-Adams School District
  • Resilience Academy for Teaching Excellence, grades K-5 in East Tallahatchie and North Bolivar school districts
  • Southwest Mississippi Academy of Health Sciences, grades 6-12 in the Natchez-Adams School District
  • Southwest Mississippi Conservatory of Performing and Multimedia Arts, grades 6-12 in the Natchez-Adams School District
  • Clarksdale Collegiate Prep, grades 7-12 in the Clarksdale Municipal School District.
  • Instant Impact Global Prep, grades K-8 in the Natchez Adams School District

Applicants who have reached this stage will be reviewed by an external evaluator whose findings will be released in July. Final decisions on each prospective school will be announced in September.

Charter schools are free public schools that do not report to a school board like traditional public schools. Instead, they are governed by the Mississippi Charter Schools Authorizing Board, which oversees the application process to open a new charter school. They have more flexibility for teachers and administrators when it comes to student instruction and are funded by local school districts based on enrollment.

Charter schools can apply directly to the charter board if they plan to open in district D or F. If an operator wants to open in district A, B, or C, they must obtain approval from the local school board. All of the proposed schools being reviewed this cycle would open in districts D or F.

Mississippi currently has eight charter schools. Most are located in Jackson, but there are schools in Clarksdale and Greenwood.

Amanda Johnson, the operator of Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School, said she is applying to expand her school, in part, because parents have asked her to.

“We made promises to those families to do whatever it takes to prepare their children for success in high school and beyond,” Johnson said. “We believe this is a continuation of the work we are already doing to prepare our students for college and career success.”

Johnson said he feels that Clarksdale Collegiate Public, which serves about 70 students per grade in grades K-5, has been very successfully received by the community so far. They have had to accelerate their growth plan twice and have a waiting list that Johnson described as “healthy.”

The decision to open a middle and high school is also based on his commitment to Delta students, Johnson explained, saying it has always been core to his mission to ensure Delta children can achieve at high levels.

“For us, it’s about making sure our kids are prepared to have opportunities so they can pursue whatever interests them, whether it’s the military, four-year college or vocational, we want to make sure we’re providing opportunities for them and making room for your passions,” Johnson said.

They are currently authorized to serve students through eighth grade, but plan to reorganize so that one facility serves K-6 and the other 7-12. Johnson said they plan to start serving seventh graders as Clarksdale Collegiate Prep in the fall of 2023.

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