Board to vote on charter school proposal in Canton

CANTON, Miss. (WJTV) – The number of charter schools in Mississippi could double next school year.

Three charter applications have made it to the final round of the process. And one could be opening it’s doors right outside the Capital City.

The non-profit organization is called Scientific Research (SR1). It’s located in Ridgeland, but they’ve mentored students in Hinds, Madison and Scott counties.

Now, SR1’s founder Tamu Green is looking to open a charter school in Canton.

“Our parents and our students actually proposed the idea to us. And they asked if it would be something we would be interested in following,” Dorslisa Hutton said. SR1’s charter application names Hutton as the proposed provost.

For the past 5 years, SR1 has tutored in STEM subjects, and taught healthy lifestyles to over a thousand students through after school and summer programs. “We only have the kids only two hours a day sometimes…They always mention how much they learned in that short time period. So it’s like man if I can learn this in that short time period, imagine if I have a full day,” Green said.

In the charter school proposal, Green wants to hire 6 teachers in their first year. They would serve 75 kindergarten and 75 first grade students. Each year, they plan to add another grade level.

The Mississippi Department of Education is currently fighting a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and parents against charter schools in Jackson. They claim it’s unconstitutional to share property taxes with schools Jackson Public Schools doesn’t control.

“They’re stripping us not only of our students, but when they send the ones that they don’t want back, they keep the funding. Which I think is unfortunate,” Lutaya Stewart said. She is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. She teaches in JPS, and has had six foster children to go through the district. “I just felt like this was something I needed to do so that they would not tear apart our already underfunded public schools,” Stewart said.

Canton Public School District Superintendent Cassandra Williams sent us this statement in regards to the proposed charter:

Canton Public School District firmly believes that the public education that we provide our students is comprehensive, including opportunities for enrichment, interventions for students who need it, and a nurturing environment provided by our staff and community partners. Parents who seek a focused instructional program that prepares students to be college and career ready have everything that they need within our district such as advanced coursework, foreign language in grades K-12, accelerated courses, and a thriving dual enrollment program.”

On September 11th, the State Charter School Authorization Board will make their decision on whether to allow SR1 and the two other applicants in Clarksdale and Drew, Mississippi to open their schools for the 2018-2019 school year.

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