Five proposed charter schools advanced through the first stage of the Mississippi application process.

The first stage is considered a “completeness check,” meaning the schools have submitted the required documents in the correct format and resubmitted the proposal within 48 hours if there is missing or incomplete information.

The five schools are all aiming to open in the 2022-2023 school year. They are:

  • Columbus Leadership Academy, a K-8 school in Columbus Municipal School District
  • Instant Impact Global Prep, a K-8 school in Natchez-Adams School District
  • Jackson Leadership Academy, a K-8 school in Jackson Public Schools
  • Relentless Prep Academy, a K-5 school in Greenville Public School District
  • Resilience Academy of Technological Excellence, a K-5 school in North Bolivar Consolidated School District

All are new operators. Midtown Community Partners, which currently operates Midtown Public Charter School in Jackson, submitted a letter of intent to apply for a new school called “Midtown Primary Charter School” but never submitted the application, according to the Mississippi Charter Authorizer Board’s website.

The board, which oversees all charter schools in the state, will make a final decision on which schools to approve at its September meeting. The schools must make it through several more stages and an interview process in the coming months.

The board contracts with Massachusetts-based consulting group SchoolWorks to oversee its application process.

Charters are public schools that do not charge tuition and are held to the same academic and accountability standards as traditional public schools. By law, charter schools have the capacity for more flexibility for teachers and administrators when it comes to student instruction. Unlike traditional public schools, charters do not have school boards or operate under a local school district, although they are funded by school districts based on their enrollment.

Charter schools can apply directly to the authorizer board if they’re planning to open in a D or F district. If an operator wants to open in an A, B, or C district, they need to get approval from the local school board.

Each year the authorizer board goes through a months-long process to screen potential operators and grant them the authority to open a school in Mississippi. 

There are currently seven schools operating throughout the state with another set open in 2022.

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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.