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

Two proposed charter schools have made it through the first stage of the annual application process with hopes of opening in the Delta.

This year’s application cycle saw fewer applicants at this stage than in previous years, with five applicants in 2021 and nine in 2022. 

The schools are: 

  • Clarksdale Collegiate Prep, grades 7-12 in the Clarksdale Municipal School District
  • Level-Up Academy Public Charter School, grades K-8 in the Greenville Public School District 

Both schools are seeking to open in the fall of 2024 and would serve fewer grades at their opening. This is not the first application for either applicant. 

The applicants that have made it to this stage will be reviewed by an outside evaluator. This year, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board contracted with a local group of former Mississippi education officials to review the applications, which includes former Interim State Superintendent Kim Benton. Final decisions on the potential schools 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. Both of the schools applying this cycle would be opening in D or F districts. 

Ten schools have been approved through this application process since it was created, with eight currently operational and two planning to open this fall in Natchez and Canton. The majority of schools are in Jackson, but schools are also located in Clarksdale and Greenwood.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

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.