‘Are we happy or what?’ Natchez charter school proposals make it through first round

Published 2:08 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — Four charter schools proposed for Natchez-Adams School District are among nine statewide that have made it to the second round of Mississippi’s application process.

“Are we happy or what?” said Teresa Dennis of The Natchez Adams County Educational Development Foundation, the nonprofit foundation which submitted the application for three of the charter schools.

These include Natchez-Adams Early Childhood and Intermediate Center for kindergarten through fifth grade; Southwest Mississippi Academy of Health Sciences for sixth through 12th grade; and Southwest Mississippi Conservatory for Performing and Media Arts for sixth through 12th grade. A fourth charter school proposal for Natchez-Adams School District, called Instant Impact Global, also made the cut, Mississippi Today reported. The application for the school was submitted by another nonprofit called Instant Impact Educational Services based in Lancaster, Texas. A phone call and email to the organization were not returned this week.

Email newsletter signup

“There were 12 on the list originally, so that kind of gives an idea of where we are,” said Marvin Jeter, who also represents The Natchez Adams County Educational Development Foundation. “Once everything is accepted as being in the right order, right format and the right information, the second stage is the scoring and evaluation of your proposal.”

Dennis said getting through stage one was no small feat.

“Just the letter of intent was pretty involved,” she said. “The application is about 700 pages for each of the schools. Getting those submitted was a huge ordeal.”

An outsider evaluator board will review the applications and is expected to reveal its findings by July 15. At that time, Jeter said applicants should know whether the charter school proposals will move on to Stage 3, which is the final stage of the process before the board votes in September.

If approved, the charter schools would have a planning year before opening for the 2023-2024 school year.

Jeter said the foundation is starting now to plan fundraisers for start-up expenses for the new schools in anticipation of approval, which would help the schools open on time.

Below is a complete list of the proposed charter schools that made it to Stage 2 of the application process:

  • Columbus Leadership Academy, grades K-8 in the Columbus Municipal School District
  • Level-Up Academy Public, grades K-12 in the Greenville Public School District
  • Mound Bayou New Millennial High, grades 7-12 in the North Bolivar Consolidated School District
  • Natchez-Adams Early Childhood and Intermediate Center, grades K-5 in the Natchez-Adams School District
  • Resilience Academy of Teaching Excellence, grades K-5 in the East Tallahatchie and North Bolivar School Districts
  • Southwest Mississippi Academy of Health Sciences, grades 6-12 in the Natchez-Adams School District
  • Southwest Mississippi Conservatory for Performing and Media Arts, grades 6-12 in the Natchez-Adams School District
  • Clarksdale Collegiate Prep, grades 7-12 in the Clarksdale Municipal School District.
  • Instant Impact Global Prep, grades K-8 in the Natchez Adams School District

Charter schools are free public schools. Unlike traditional public schools, they do not report to a school board but are governed by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board, which oversees the application process for new charter schools. Charter schools also have more flexibility for teachers and administrators when it comes to student instruction.

Each of the charter schools proposed would be opening in D or F districts based on the Mississippi Department of Education’s school district grading system.

Therefore, the charter schools can apply directly to the authorizer board.

If an operator wants to open in an A, B, or C district, they need to get approval from the district’s school board first.

Mississippi’s only existing charter schools are located in Jackson, Clarksdale and Greenwood.