Krystal Cormack Credit: Governor's office

Three organizations have moved forward in the application process to open five charter schools in Mississippi in the 2017 school year.

Four of the proposed schools would be located in Jackson and one in Sunflower Co.

Two out-of-state charter management organizations applied to the state Charter School Authorizer Board while one Delta-based independent group applied to open a kindergarten through 8th grade school in Drew.

The New Orleans group Collegiate Academics applied to open the state’s first charter school serving 9th through 12th graders in Jackson.

Ohio-based I Can Schools is seeking to open three schools in Jackson serving grades kindergarten through 8th grade. It currently operates charter schools in Ohio and Indiana.

The Delta group Shades of Elegance is seeking to open a kindergarten through 8th grade school in the Delta. The proposed principal for the school is Shantal Johnson, a current teacher at KIPP Memphis Preparatory Middle.

T.J. Graham helped write the application to the board.

“We would like to see the children there have the same opportunities to quality education as children in larger areas who cannot necessarily cross district lines into Jackson because that would be too far,” Graham said, referring to this year’s legislation allowing some students to cross district lines to attend charters.

Graham said she spearheaded the group looking to open the school and it includes educators and parents from the area.

According to its letter of intent, the school would use an “arts integrated STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) framework.”

All of the organizations made it to the second of three phases in the application process. However, Dallas-based Excellence 2000’s application was denied because it failed to provide proof of citizenship for some employees and did not submit an up to date financial audit, board member Krystal Cormack said.

In the first stage of the application process, the board ensures the applications are complete. During the second stage of the process, the board assures the proposal meets a “minimum quality threshold,” and the third stage involves evaluations of the group’s school plans and in-person interviews.

This fall, the Nashville-based charter school organization RePublic Schools will add the 6th grade to its existing Jackson school now serving 5th graders and open Joel E. Smilow Prep, which will eventually serve grades 5-8.

Midtown Public Charter School, also in Jackson, will add the 7th grade to its school that currently serves 5th and 6th graders.

The board will issue final approval of schools in September.

Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.