Group seeks to build charter school near Co-Lin

Published 12:02 am Friday, June 5, 2015

NATCHEZ — A Natchez group hoping to open a charter school here has moved a step forward in the application process.

The Phoenix Project Community Development Foundation, which hopes to open the Phoenix Early College Charter School in Natchez serving grades 9 through 12, reapplied to the state board responsible for such applications after being denied in 2014.

The application was denied last year because the organizers did not have a commitment from Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Alcorn State University, which the Phoenix Project said would assist in providing college credits to its students.

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Phoenix Early College Charter School hopes to open next year with a ninth-grade, if its application is approved.

Final decisions are expected in September.

The group will seek to build a school near Co-Lin Natchez and serve 300 students with the goal for students to graduate high school and also earn college credit hours at Co-Lin at the same time.

Alcorn is not now part of the project.

“We have very good options, at least two to three prospects, for a location near Co-Lin Natchez,” Phoenix Project Community Development Foundation board member Iretha Beyah said.

Beyah said the foundation’s initial goal is to improve the outcome of students who currently attend public school.

“If we want our region to grow, then we have to put something on the table,” Beyah said. “This is a choice of the community to utilize this charter school as a way to better the community.”

Beyah, who is a Natchez native, received all of her former education in Natchez.

It was during that time that Beyah learned no child was un-teachable.

“When students come into the classroom it’s our job to bring them to an A letter grade,” Beyah said. “We want to show students that they have career options to choose from.”

The Phoenix Project Community Development Foundation is one of three charter schools in the state that advanced through the application and selection process by the State Charter School Authorizer Board.

Charter schools are publicly funded, independently operated public schools that do not charge tuition or fees, are open to all students who wish to attend and cannot discriminate when making enrollment decisions.