Latest News on Charter Schools in Mississippi


Three Charter Applicants in Final Consideration

7/17/17

Three charter school applicants have moved to the rigorous final stage of consideration in the 2017 application cycle. A team of evaluators will assess detailed  school plans and hold in-person interviews with applicants seeking to open charter schools in the Canton, Clarksdale, and Sunflower County school districts. Approvals/denials will be announced at the board’s September 11 meeting.

• Scientific Research of Ridgeland is applying to operate SR1 College Preparatory and STEM Academy in Canton. At full capacity the school would serve 1,150 students in grades K-12.

• Clarksdale Collegiate of Clarksdale is applying to operate Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School in Clarksdale. At full capacity the school would serve 675 students in grades K-8.

• Shades of Elegance Corporation of Byram is applying to operate Truth Academy STEAM Charter School in Drew. At full capacity the school would serve 360 students in grades K-8.

Six other applicants were eliminated in earlier rounds of the application process.


Letters of Intent Submitted by Nine Charter Applicants

3/30/17

Nine charter school applicants submitted letters of intent to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board indicating they plan to participate in Mississippi’s 2017 charter school application process. The proposed charter schools would be located in the following school districts: Canton, Clarksdale, Columbus, Greenwood, Holmes County (2), Jackson (2), South Pike, and Sunflower County.


Board Denies Charter to I Can Schools

9/12/16

The 2016 application cycle has closed with no new authorizations for charter schools in Mississippi. The next application period should begin in January of 2017.

Today’s board action, on a vote of 4-2, denied the application of Ohio-based I Can Schools, which had sought to open three K-8 charter schools in Jackson. Other 2016 applicants were eliminated in earlier rounds of the multi-step process.

Currently, three charter schools are operating in Jackson; a fourth charter school was approved in 2015 and is set to open in Jackson in the fall of 2017.


Charter Board Issues Statement on School Performance

8/19/16

Preliminary data on the 2015-2016 proficiency rates of ReImagine Prep and Midtown Public students has been released by the Mississippi Department of Education. A statement from the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board says that the schools are not currently meeting the board’s expectations for performance. A comprehensive evaluation of the two charter schools will be released later in the fall.


Three Charter Applicants Advance

6/8/16

Advancing to the second stage of the 2016 application cycle are three operators seeking to open five charter schools:

• Shades of Elegance, based in Clarksdale, has applied to open a K-8 school in Sunflower County. Truth Academy STEAM Charter School aims to serve up to 120 students in grades K-6 beginning in the fall of 2017 and in five years reach its capacity of 360 students in grades K-8.

• Ohio-based I Can Schools has applied to open three K-8 charter schools in Jackson, each serving up to 300 students: Mississippi Preparatory School 1 would open in the fall of 2017, Mississippi Preparatory School 2 in the fall of 2018, and Mississippi Preparatory School 3 in the fall of 2019.

• New Orleans operator Collegiate Academies hopes to open the first charter high school in Mississippi. The school, to be located in Jackson, would serve up to 120 ninth graders its first year and add a grade each year until it reaches capacity at 470 students in grades 9-12.

Dallas-based Excellence 2000 Inc. was denied approval to move forward with plans for a K-12 charter school serving up to 375 students in Jackson. The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board noted that Excellence 2000 fell short of eligibility requirements regarding financial audits and proof of citizenship for prospective board and staff members.

Stage two involves an assessment by independent evaluators of each charter proposal’s capacity to meet minimum quality standards. The board will announce at its July 11 meeting the operators approved to move to the rigorous final stage of the application process.


Letters of Intent Submitted for 14 New Charter Schools

3/16/16

Nine charter school operators, five of which are headquartered out-of-state, submitted letters of intent to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board for 14 new charter schools to open in the fall of 2017 or thereafter (11 in the Jackson Public School District, 1 in Newton Municipal School District, 1 in Sunflower County School District, and 1 in Tunica County School District). The letters indicate the operators’ intent to submit full proposals to the board by the May 10 deadline.


RFP Available for 2016 Applicants

1/30/16

The final Request for Proposals (RFP) is now available for applicants seeking to open charter schools in the fall of 2017 or thereafter. Guidelines and full instructions for applicants can be found in the RFP.

2016 Charter School RFP

2016 Charter School RFP Draft Released for Public Comment

12/8/15

The draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2016 charter school application cycle has been released for public comment. This RFP is for schools planning to open in the fall of 2017 or thereafter. Public comments must be submitted no later than January 11, by email to charterschools@mississippi.edu, or by postal mail to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211, Attention: Ms. Marian Schutte.
2016 Charter School RFP – Draft for Public Comment


2016 Board Meeting Schedule

12/8/15

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board  adopted the following schedule for its 2016 meetings (times and locations to be determined):

Tuesday, January 26 (board retreat)

Wednesday, January 27

Monday, March 7

Monday, April 4

Monday, June 6

Monday, July 11

Monday, September 12

Monday, October 3

Monday, December 5


RePublic Schools Gains Two New Charters in Jackson

9/3/15; updated 12/21/15

RePublic Schools, Inc., which operates Mississippi’s first charter school, Reimagine Prep in Jackson, yesterday gained approval by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board for two additional schools. The Joel E. Smilow Prep Charter School, projected to serve up to 550 students in grades 5-8 upon full implementation, will open in August of 2016. The Joel E. Smilow Collegiate Charter School, projected to serve up to 1,130 students in grades K-8 upon full implementation, will open in August of 2017. They will share a campus at the North Jackson site that originally was the home of Broadmoor Baptist Church and most recently has been occupied by Wesley Biblical Seminary. Smilow Prep plans to serve 119 fifth-grade students in 2016-2017. Both schools will add a grade each year after opening. The charter schools are named for the former CEO of Playtex Products, Inc., who recently announced a private donation of $1-million to RePublic Schools, Inc.

Smilow Prep/Collegiate Charter Schools Recommendation for Approval

Two More Jackson Charter Schools Under Consideration

7/31/15

Jackson area K-8 (Joel E. Smilow Collegiate Charter School) and middle grade (Joel E. Smilow Prep Charter School) charter schools proposed by RePublic Schools were moved to the final round of consideration in the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board’s July meeting. The board voted to reject the other remaining application for a 300-student high school in Natchez, citing inadequacies in Phoenix Early College Charter School’s startup plans and proposals for serving students with disabilities, English language learners, and gifted students.

A public hearing on the Jackson charter applications will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 6, at Reimagine Prep, 309 W. McDowell Road, Jackson. The board will announce a final decision in September.

Smilow Prep/Collegiate Charter Schools Application

 Jackson, Natchez Charter Applications Advance

6/8/15

RePublic Schools has applied to open an additional two charter schools in Jackson. RePublic’s Reimagine Prep will open in August 2015 as Mississippi’s first charter school. The proposed elementary and middle schools would share a campus in North Central Jackson. At its June meeting, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board also moved forward an application from Phoenix Early College Charter School in Natchez. One other applicant, Peter’s Rock Temple Church of God in Christ in Starkville, was denied because it lacked approval by the local school board.


2015 Charter School RFP, Board Strategic Plan Approved

4/7/15

At its April 6 meeting, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board approved the 2015 request for proposals (RFP) for charter schools planning to open in the fall of 2016 or thereafter. The timeline for the 2015 application cycle includes an informational webinar in mid-April and deadlines of May 5 for applicants to submit a letter of intent to the board and May 26 to submit the complete proposal.

2015 Charter School RFP
Online Portal for Submission of Proposal Documents
The board also approved a strategic plan for its own work in 2015-2016, with the following priorities:

I. Expand high-quality charter options across the state of Mississippi especially in areas of high need.

II. Ensure the quality of authorized charter schools through outcomes-based accountability and oversight practices while respecting charter school autonomy.

III. Establish sound organizational practices and protocols to ensure effective and transparent operation of the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board.


Draft RFP Released for Public Comment

3/5/15

The draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2015 charter school application cycle has been released for public comment. This RFP is for schools planning to open in the fall of 2016 or thereafter. Public comments must be submitted no later than April 1, by email to charterschools@mississippi.edu, or by postal mail to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211, Attention: Ms. Marian Schutte.
2015 Charter School RFP – Draft for Public Comment
The board at its March 2 meeting also discussed a draft of a proposed Charter Board Strategic Plan. The draft will be available for public review on the board’s website approximately eight days prior to the April 6 board meeting.


2015 Board Meeting Schedule

1/29/15

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board held its first board retreat January 26, followed the next day by its first regular meeting of 2015. A schedule was approved for board meetings in 2015, with location to be determined, as follows:

Monday, March 2

Monday, April 6

Monday, June 1

Monday, July 6

Wednesday, September 2

Monday, October 5

Monday, December 7


Midtown Public Charter School Approved

Mississippi Ranked 3rd for Charter Policies

12/5/14

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board today approved the state’s second charter school, Midtown Public Charter School in Jackson, citing the proposal’s strength in community partnerships, its organizational infrastructure plans, and an instructional program modeled on a highly successful Massachusetts charter school system. A proposal for Inspire Charter School in Columbus was denied, based on inadequacies in instructional, operational, and financial plans. The board noted its intentions to work with the Columbus applicants to explain its reasons for rejecting their application and to offer suggestions for improvement. A timeline for a new round of charter school applications will be set at the board’s next meeting on January 27, 2015.
Midtown Public Charter School Recommendation for Approval
The board’s measured approach to approving new charter schools can be attributed in large part to Mississippi’s high standards for charter operators. With a high bar for both quality and fidelity to statute, Mississippi is on a path to ensuring that only the best charter schools are allowed to serve our children. The strength of our charter school policies was recognized today in a new report from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, which ranked Mississippi third out of 43 states for best practices in authorizing new charter schools. Kudos to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board and to legislators who fought hard to write into law charter school policies that will benefit children in underperforming schools while protecting Mississippi from poor quality or profit-driven charter operators.
Analysis of State Charter School Policies


Public Hearings Set for Columbus, Jackson Applicants

11/12/14

Charter school proposals will be vetted in public hearings prior to final decisions by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board. Applicants seeking to establish Inspire Charter School in Columbus will present their proposal and receive public comments on Monday, November 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the offices of the Columbus Coalition for Educational Options, 1820 23rd Street North, Columbus. Applicants proposing to establish Midtown Public Charter School in Jackson will discuss their application and receive public comments on Wednesday, November 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Mississippi Department of Education, 359 North West Street, Jackson.Inspire Charter School Application
Midtown Public Charter School Application


Two Charter Applicants Move to Final Round

10/24/14

Two applicants have advanced to the final round of consideration for new charter schools. The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board will vote at its December 5 meeting to accept or reject proposals for Inspire Charter School, grades K-5 in Columbus, and Midtown Public Charter School, grades 5-8 in Jackson. Out of the 10 letters of intent received from potential applicants in September, six applicants submitted formal proposals. Four of those were denied permission to move to the final round of consideration.


Letters of Intent Received from 10 Charter Applicants

9/24/14

Ten letters of intent were submitted to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board from applicants who want to open 17 charter schools across the state.


Fall 2014 Charter School RFP Available

8/1/14

The Fall 2014 Request for Proposals, for charter schools opening in 2015-2016 or beyond, is available for prospective applicants. The timeline for the Fall 2014 proposal cycle includes a deadline of August 15 for applicants to submit a letter of intent to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board. Full proposals are due September 15.
Fall 2014 Charter School RFP


2014 Draft of Charter School RFP Open for Public Comment

6/17/14

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board has issued a draft for public comment of its 2014 request for proposals (RFP) for charter schools planning to open in 2015-2016 or later. The public is invited to review the RFP and share written comments with the board. Public comments must be submitted via email no later than 5 p.m. on June 19, 2014, to charterschools@mississippi.edu. The Parents’ Campaign Research and Education Fund submitted comments to the board (see “Public Comments Submitted by TPCREF” below) regarding concerns about how the draft RFP addresses virtual charters, transportation provisions, admissions process/lottery, and track record of  charter school leadership team.
2014 Charter School RFP – Draft for Public Comment
Public Comments Submitted by TPCREF


Mississippi’s First Charter School Approved

6/2/14

The first charter school application to be approved in Mississippi is for Reimagine Prep in Jackson. It plans to open in the fall of 2015 to serve 110 students in grade 5, gradually expanding to serve 440 students in grades 5-8 by 2018. The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board voted to approve the proposal from RePublic Charter Schools and now will negotiate with RePublic the contract under which Reimagine Prep will operate. The group also operates two charter schools in Nashville. RePublic is the lone successful applicant of the 12 that filed proposals earlier this year to open charter schools in Mississippi. The charter board denied the applications of the Columbus Coalition for Educational Options, which had proposed a charter school for Columbus, and the Phoenix Project Community Development Foundation, which had proposed a charter school for Natchez. Nine other proposals were either incomplete or were withdrawn from consideration earlier in the process.
Reimagine Prep Recommendation for Approval


Public Hearings Set for Columbus, Jackson, Natchez

5/20/14

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board is holding public hearings this week in three communities – Columbus, Jackson, and Natchez – where applicants hope to locate charter schools. Out of 12 original applicants, only three were approved to proceed to the interview stage of the application process; those interviews were held on May 8. The board will make final determinations on those three applications in June. In this week’s public hearings, applicants will present their plans and members of the public will be allowed to make comments. Click here to view the complete agenda for hearings and the protocol for sharing public comments. Schedule of hearings:

  • Tuesday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m., Columbus Coalition for Educational Options building,1820 23rd Street North, Columbus. The Columbus Coalition for Educational Options is applying to operate the Inspire Charter School STEM and ARTS Scholars Academy, serving grades K-6 and 9 in the Columbus School District. View the application here.
  • Wednesday, May 21 at 5:30 p.m., Mississippi Department of Education – Auditorium, 359 North West Street, Jackson. The RePublic Charter School Board of Directors is applying to operate the Reimagine Prep Charter School, serving grades 5-8 in the Jackson Public School District. View the application here.
  • Thursday, May 22 at 5:30 p.m., Copiah-Lincoln Community College – Natchez Campus, Nelson Multipurpose Room, 11 Co-Lin Circle, Natchez. The Phoenix Project Community Development Foundation, Inc., is applying to operate the Phoenix Early College Charter School, serving grades 9-12 in the Natchez-Adams School District. View the application here.

The board also will accept written public comments regarding the applications, with a deadline of 5 p.m. on Friday, May 23. Written comments should be submitted via hand delivery at public hearings, by mail to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211, or by email to charterschools@mississippi.edu.


 Three Charter School Applications Advance to Next Stage

4/9/14

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board announced that three of the 12 originally submitted charter school applications have been approved to move forward to the third stage of the application process. In this stage, applicants will participate in capacity interviews to be conducted by evaluation teams. The completeness and eligibility reviews found that information was missing from all 12 of the original applicants. They were given the opportunity to resubmit their applications with complete information; one chose to withdraw, four chose not to resubmit, and of the seven that resubmitted their applications, four were determined to be incomplete and three were determined to be complete.


 Twelve Charter School Applications Under Review

3/17/14

Twelve charter school applications have been received by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board , which now will review the applications for completeness and eligibility determinations.


 Letters of Intent Received from 31 Applicants

1/27/14

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board announced that it has received 31 letters of intent from groups planning to submit applications for charter schools.The deadline for completed applications is March 14, 2014.