Charter School Authorizer Board Holds Second Meeting

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board held its second meeting on October 21. Board Chair Tommie Cardin of Clinton presided; the primary topics were the Request for Proposals (RFP), possible timelines, and the hiring of a consultant or executive director. The board faces a December 1 deadline – imposed by law – to issue the RFP for charter school applications.

A subcommittee of the board presented a draft of the RFP, which will be available publicly on or before November 1; public comments are due no later than November 13.

Much of the board’s discussion focused on the timeline for charter applications, approvals, and school openings. Several of the board members expressed a desire to take the time necessary to ensure that the end result of the board’s actions is high quality charter schools, noting that national best practices indicate the importance of giving schools a year of planning time prior to accepting students. The board agreed to move forward with a timeline as follows: receive applications, December 2013 – March 2014; review applications and interview applicants, April – May 2014; accept or decline applications and negotiate contracts, June 2014; planning year for approved charter schools, 2014-2015; schools open for students, 2015-2016. The board retains the right to grant charters approval to open for students in the 2014-2015 school year if they provide sufficient proof of readiness.

Cardin reported that the board had received the Attorney General’s approval to enter into a performance contract with a consultant to assist with chartering activities. The board expects to approve a consultant contract at its next meeting on November 18.

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