May 14, 2014 10:14:20 AM
JACKSON -- Three Mississippi communities will get their say on proposals to open charter schools.
The Charter School Authorizer Board voted Thursday to set public hearings on May 20 in Columbus, May 21 in Jackson and May 22 in Natchez. It's another step before the board decides whether it will approve what would be Mississippi's first charter schools.
The Columbus Coalition for Educational Options wants to open the Inspire Charter School STEM and Arts Scholars Academy, serving grades K-6 and 9. In Jackson, RePublic Charter School wants to open Reimagine Prep, serving grades K-8. In Natchez, the Phoenix Project Community Development Foundation wants to open the Phoenix Early College Charter School, serving grades 9-12.
A technical review committee conducted capacity interviews with the three applicant groups Thursday, trying to probe the applicants' readiness and ability to deliver on what they promise in their applications.
The board plans to vote on applications June 2, finalizing contracts with approved schools later that month. The applications are available online at charterschoolboard.ms.gov.
Board Chairman Tommie Cardin said that he plans to moderate each hearing and that each applicant will give a presentation about their plans. He said that he plans about an hour of public comment, allotting up to 5 minutes apiece to people who want to talk, but less if there are many commenters.
"The comments they make need to be directed toward the applications and the schools," Cardin said. "I'm not going to allow a forum to vent on whether charter schools are going to exist or not. That decision was made by the Legislature and it's our job to implement them."
The Columbus hearing will be at 1820 23rd St. North. The Jackson hearing will be at the auditorium of the Mississippi Department of Education in the Central High School building at 359 N. West St. The Natchez hearing will be in the Nelson Multi-Purpose Room of Copiah-Lincoln Community College at 11 Co-Lin Circle.
Written comments can be emailed to the board at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the board at 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson MS 39211.
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