Recently approved charter school application may need NASD board approval to go forward

Published 12:12 pm Thursday, September 29, 2022

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NATCHEZ — The Mississippi Charter School Authorizing Board approved an application for a charter school in Natchez. However, that charter school’s application also may need to be approved by the Natchez-Adams School District board of education.

The state’s authorizing board approved the application for Instant Impact Global Prep to develop and open a charter school in Natchez, the only application of 10 to be approved by the state this year.

On the same day, it was announced the Natchez-Adams School District had earned an overall B rating, up from a D the last time ratings were given in 2019, pre-pandemic.

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NASD Superintendent Fred Butcher said according to state law, the state authorizing board may authorize charter schools in school districts with an A, B or C rating only if a majority of the members of the local school board endorse the application.

He cited state law HB 369, which states, “In any school district designated as an A, B or 341 C school district by the State Board of Education under the accreditation rating system, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board may authorize charter schools only if a majority of the members of the local school board votes at a public meeting to endorse the application or to initiate the application on its own initiative.”

No member of the state authorizer board returned a phone message or an email message sent them seeking comment on the approval.

Butcher said the school district did not learn about the approval of the charter school before the authorizer board to the media released the news.

“The opening of a charter school in Natchez has the potential to impact all schools in the area,” Butcher said. “Starting as a K-2 school, parents would have an additional tuition-free, local option for educating their students, possibly impacting the public school district as well as our local private and parochial schools.

“Charter schools are funded based on student enrollment. Therefore, local, state and federal money allocated to serve students would be distributed to the charter school to meet the needs of those students,” Butcher said.

JoAnn Rucker, a South Natchez graduate now living in Texas, is CEO of Instant Impact Educational Services, plans to open a public school  here beginning with K-2 in the fall of 2023. She will add grades gradually after that year until the school eventually serves K-8 grades. Rucker said she as yet does not have a location for the school.