Mississippi officials approved four charter groups for the final round of the application process.

Three schools were bumped out of the process to open a charter school in the 2019-20 school year, officials announced Monday.

Last month, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board approved seven groups to participate in the charter school application process; these groups could potentially open eight schools. They are:

  • Ambition Preparatory Charter School: K-8 in Jackson Public School District
  • Girls Club and Learning Center Inc.: pre-K-8 in Leflore County School District
  • KMartin Group: K-8 in Amite County School District
  • Mississippi Delta Academies: grades 6-8 in Leflore County School District
  • SR1 Academy: K-5 in Canton Public School District
  • Mississippi Community Education Center, K-5 in Leflore County School District.
  • RePublic Schools, Inc.: Two new schools, a K-8 and a 9-12 school in the Jackson Public School District

Independent evaluators with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers reviewed each group’s proposal and deemed three “substantially inadequate”: Girls Club and Learning Center, KMartin Group and Mississippi Community Education Center.

Girls Club and Learning center was denied by the board because the evaluation found issues with the school’s start up plan, proposed staffing structure and financial plan.

KMartin Group’s proposed school, Highpoint Academy of Excellence, was denied because the start-up plan did not demonstrate that the applicants were capable of opening on time. The evaluation also highlighted concerns with their financial plan.

Mississippi Community Education Center intended to open Leflore County Charter School, but the authorizer board denied their application because of concerns with the school’s disciplinary plan and negative budget projections in their financial plan.

Evaluators found the other five schools — Republic, SR1 Academy, Mississippi Delta Academies and Ambition Preparatory — minimally adequate, but they will continue with the next phase of the application process.

Independent evaluators will review each proposal once more and interview the candidates. The applicants will host public hearings in mid-August, and the authorizer board will announce their decision on Sept. 10.

Charter schools are privately run but do not charge tuition. As taxpayer funded schools, charters must adhere to the same academic and accountability requirements as traditional public schools. Charter schools also allow teachers and administrators more flexibility in student instruction.

The Mississippi Legislature passed the law that allows charters to operate in 2013. Since then, the state has approved five schools: ReImagine Prep, Midtown Public Charter School and Joel E. Smilow Prep each operate as middle schools in Jackson. Clarksdale Collegiate Prep will open in Clarksdale and Joel E. Smilow Collegiate will open as an elementary school in Jackson in the 2018-19 school year.

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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.