Students eat breakfast at Ambition Prep Charter School in West Jackson.

Mississippi charter schools received $600,000 in grant funding from the federal government to use on technology and general supplies, the Charter School Authorizer Board announced Monday. 

The money comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, passed by Congress in December of last year, through a community project grant. In a press release, the authorizer board said the funding is the result of collaboration between the board and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Lisa Karmacharya, executive director of the authorizer board, said she was approached by Hyde-Smith’s office to submit a proposal for congressional funding.

“At the congressional level we have a lot of support,” Karmacharya said. “They’re always looking to see what they can do to help us, which in turn helps all the schools.”

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. They have more flexibility for teachers and administrators when it comes to student instruction, and are funded by local school districts based on enrollment. There are currently 10 charter schools approved to operate in Mississippi.

Eligible schools are ones that added a grade in the 2022-23 school year, Karmacharya said. The funding will be divided into $150,000 grants to four schools.

The schools receiving this funding are: 

  • Ambition Preparatory Charter School (K-4, Jackson) 
  • Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School (K-6, Clarksdale)
  • Leflore Legacy Academy (6-8, Greenwood)
  • Midtown Public Charter School (4-8, Jackson) 

Schools will learn more about the grant’s spending rules at a webinar later this month, but are generally authorized to use them for supplies and technology needs. 

Amanda Johnson, executive director of Clarksdale Collegiate Public, said shehopes to use the funding for classroom furniture and supplies as the school expands into offering seventh grade next year. 

Leflore Legacy Academy hopes to use the grant to update some chromebooks and purchase technology for its app-building and robotics classes, among others.

“It was great to learn that politicians, the U.S. Department of Education, and even our local Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board office are really looking into opportunities to fiscally support charter schools,” said Leflore Legacy Executive Director Tamala Boyd Shaw. 

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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.