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Columbus charter school group wants to provide options

 

Darren Leach

Darren Leach

 

 

Sarah Fowler

 

A Columbus organization is one step closer to submitting a charter school application to the state. 

 

Columbus Coalition for Educational Options hosted a public information forum Tuesday night to talk about their plans for a public charter school and answer questions from citizens about what a charter school could mean for local students. 

 

Darren Leach, a member of the CCEO leadership team, said bringing a charter school to Columbus was about giving parents options. 

 

"All we want to do is provide a different type of option," Leach said. 

 

According to a CCEO power point presentation, the lack of public school options for parents living inside the city limits is a "major moral tragedy." 

 

Leach said CCEO hopes to offer classes to approximately 300 children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school would be held in Genesis Church, which was formerly Hughes Elementary. Leach is the pastor at Genesis Church. The school would be named Inspire Charter School. 

 

Dr. Kimberly Rush, who serves on the Mississippi Charter Schools Association, was on hand during Tuesday night's meeting and said parents should be able to provide their children with a quality education regardless of socioeconomic status. 

 

Speaking to the two dozen people in the audience, Rush asked "What parent worth anything wouldn't want to provide the best education for their child?" 

 

Rush said that with charter schools, teachers have options as well as parents. 

 

"Teachers have a great freedom to teach in charter schools," she said. "They decide how they want to teach. They decide what is the best method." 

 

Regardless of what curriculum is taught in the charter schools, children who attend charter schools will be tested by the same standards as children in traditional public schools, Rush said. 

 

She reiterated throughout the evening that public charter schools are free and open to the public. However, if more than 300 children apply to attend Inspire Charter School, they will enter into a lottery to determine who gets to attend. 

 

The charter school bill was signed by Governor Phil Bryant earlier this year. According to the bill, there can be up to 15 public charter schools opened in the state each year, but the first new schools will not open until 2015.  

 

Leach said there will be more informational meetings as the January application deadline approaches.

 

Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.

 

 

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