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Charter board approves state's first charter high school for Jackson

NEW SCHOOL: The Mississippi Charter Authorizer Board approved a new charter high school, the state's first, for Jackson today. Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

The Mississippi Charter Authorizer Board approved the applications of two new charter schools for the Jackson area and rejected another at its meeting Monday.

One of the new schools will be the state's first charter school high school, while the other will be a K-8 school.

Both will be operated by RePublic schools, which serves 1,200 students at the two middle school schools that it operates — Smilow Prep and Reimagine Prep — and a new school called Smilow Collegiate that will serve grades K-8 once it reaches its capacity.

The rejected application was from the Mississippi Delta Academies, which would've opened a middle school in LeFlore County. All isn't lost for the application, as it has a recommendation by the board for reapplication in the next cycle.

The board had previously tabled action on the applications as it awaited the annual accountability grades from the Mississippi Department of Education, which were delayed by the Mississippi Board of Education.

State law says that charter schools located in any school district that is graded as failing's in the MDE's accountability grades can be approved by the authorizer board without any input from the local school board.

The local school board of a district with a grade of C or better requires approval of the local school board. No local school board has approved a charter application for a non-failing district. Since LeFlore County's grade improved to a C in the latest scores, board approval would be required

Only one out of the state's soon to be eight charter schools operate outside of Jackson.

Reimagine Prep was the only one of the three charters to show improvement over last year's grades with a passing grade of a C. Smilow Prep was given a D grade, same as last year.

The top-graded high schools in the Jackson Public School District were Murrah and Provine, which earned D grades. The remaining five were all rated with F grades.

Ten out of the system's 12 middle schools received failing grades.

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