The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board held its first meeting on September 19. Butler Snow attorney Tommie Cardin of Clinton was elected chair and realtor Chris Wilson of Laurel was elected vice chair. The board faces a December 1 deadline to issue the Request for Proposals (RFP) for charter school applications but has no budget with which to operate.
Funding for the authorizer board is to come from a 3% assessment on the per student funding for each charter school student. The charter school legislation did not provide for start-up funding.
It was decided that the charter board will seek the Attorney General’s approval to contract out the drafting of the RFP in order to meet that deadline, and board member Johnny Franklin was tasked with raising private funds to cover those costs.
The drafting of the RFP is one of the most important steps in the chartering process. The RFP will be, in essence, the rubric by which charter school applications are measured. It is important that this document set a high standard for charter schools and that it reflect the intent of the Legislature, including a track record of success, a strong financial plan, a strong curriculum aligned with state standards, and the prohibition of virtual charters and for-profit schools and management organizations.