Charter schools trying to expand network in Mississippi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Charter schools trying to expand network in Mississippi

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A fear of the unknown sparked its fair share of debate for charter schools in Mississippi. The Charter School Authorizer Board now has the option to expand the network by six schools. They'll vote in December.

"We need to do something not just different, not just better but drastically different," explained Erika Berry, Executive Director of the Mississippi Charter Schools Association.

Berry's watching the changing tides on what was once a controversial topic in the Magnolia State.

"The interest stems from communities who feel like their students aren't being served well," said Berry. "And that's the whole point of a charter school. It's to offer kids who aren't having options a really great option."

As for the six new applicants, two are in Jackson, one in North Panola, one in Columbus and two others in Tunica County.

Meanwhile, one group got the stamp of approval earlier this year. Kate Cooper works with the charter management organization called RePublic Schools.The group will open the state's first charter school, ReImagine Prep in Jackson, next fall.

"In our first year we will only have fifth grade and then we will add a grade each year until we're fully grown 5th through 8th," described Cooper. "So we'll enroll about 110 fifth graders next August."

Cooper says they'll build on experience they have with similar schools in Nashville.

"What that looks like for us is we have an extended school day, an extended school year," Cooper said. "We emphasize math and literacy but we actually offer computer programming instruction to all our middle school students too."

Berry hopes to see the charter network continue to grow.

"Because it's not fair to say all these kids are the same, they just need one system," explained Berry.

If approved, those six charter schools would open as early as fall 2015 or 2016.

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