Landen Maddox reads a book after breakfast on the first of school at Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Clarksdale Collegiate is the state’s first rural charter school. Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/ Report for America

Five new charter schools could open across the state as early as next year if the state approves their applications later this fall. 

On Monday, the Charter School Authorizer Board voted to advance the proposed schools, and voted against the remaining five that did not meet a majority of the required application criteria. 

This round of the process allowed all applications to be reviewed by an outside evaluator, which recommended only four of the ten proposed schools advance to the next round. Those schools are:

  • Columbus Leadership Academy, grades K-8 in the Columbus Municipal School District
  • Instant Impact Global Prep, grades K-8 in the Natchez Adams School District
  • Resilience Academy of Teaching Excellence, grades K-5 in the East Tallahatchie School District
  • Resilience Academy of Teaching Excellence, grades K-5 in the North Bolivar School District

The board also approved Clarksdale Collegiate Prep, which would serve grades 7-12 in the Clarksdale Municipal School District, despite the independent evaluator recommending against it due to issues with the plan that was submitted and concerns regarding test scores. The test scores referenced were from Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School, a currently operating charter school serving students K-5. 

Board members pointed out that the lower test scores occurred during the pandemic, and said the applicant should be granted leniency due to the extenuating circumstances. The board ultimately voted 4-3 in favor of moving the school to the final step.

Final decisions on each 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 School Authorizer 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 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. All proposed schools being reviewed this cycle would be opening in D or F districts.

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Julia, a Louisiana native, covers K-12 education. She previously served as an investigative intern with Mississippi Today helping cover the welfare scandal. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been published in The New York Times and the Clarion-Ledger.