Mississippi eyes charter school expansion thanks to new federal - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi eyes charter school expansion thanks to new federal grant money

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

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board's goal is to approve 15 new charter schools in the next 5 years, but as Mississippi First has learned, there have been some stumbling blocks for new charters.

"We have this policy that only allows for the highest quality of schools to open and operate in our state and now it's time for us to put some dollars behind that," explained Angela Bass, Mississippi First Deputy Director of Policy.

That's where the federal grant money will help.

Empower Mississippi expects it will also improve the chance of seeing new charters outside of Jackson.

"This grant will help more communities that might have the talent, and the demand and the need to start a charter but maybe not have the philanthropy community to invest in a charter," noted Empower Mississippi Founder and President Grant Callen.

Ninety percent of the $15 million grant money will be dedicated to those start up costs. That will fill a needed gap since they don't get any state or local funding between approval and the July before they open.

"Charter schools heavily rely on fundraising to make it through that startup period and that first year," added Bass. 

There's also the chance that existing companies will reconsider the state now that more money is available.

"I do think you will see some of the charter management organizations that have been successful in other states give Mississippi a second look because it's not going to require such a heavy lift on philanthropy to get these schools off the ground," said Callen.

Startup grants will be available to approved charter schools.

They can receive up to $900,000 over three years (the startup year, year one, and year two of operation).

There are currently three charter schools in Jackson and a newly approved school for Clarksdale.

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