/Jackson charter schools add students

Jackson charter schools add students

Two Jackson charter schools were approved to enroll more students next school year than was originally planned. Monday’s state charter authorizer board approved the expansion of enrollment to as many as 600 students at Reimagine Prep or Smilow Prep in Jackson. RePublic Schools from Nashville operates the schools. Representatives of the Jackson community requested an increase in enrollment. Reimagine Prep will see its contract increase to 440 students from the current 476 students. Smilow Prep will see an increase to 476 students from the current 476 students. Ravi Gupta, CEO of RePublic Schools, stated to board members that she takes seriously her responsibility to serve as many children in Mississippi as possible. The board also approved RePublic Schools’ request for a one year delay in opening another Jackson-area school. This was originally intended for the 2017-2018 school years. Gupta stated that the school group hasn’t been able find a strong enough leader and decided to delay opening the facility an additional year. “Do we have a strong, capable leader? That is the number one question. He told the board that we won’t open a school without an affirmative “yes”. These moves were made amid a lawsuit against charter schools throughout the state. The Southern Poverty Law Center, parents of Jackson Public Schools students, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality and funding of charter schools with state and local tax dollars. Charter schools in Mississippi are funded per pupil based on the school’s average attendance or number of students who attend at least 63 percent of school days. Local dollars are also provided by ad valorem payments that track students from public schools to charter schools. Charter schools are opposed by those who claim they take money from traditional public schools. The lawsuit claims that Jackson Public Schools lost $1.85million last year due to the operations of Midtown Public Charter School, and Reimagine Prep. Smilow Prep was established in this school year. RePublic Schools opened Reimagine Prep for 5th graders in 2015. The school was expanded to include 6th graders this year. RePublic’s director for growth and advancement Kate Cooper says that the addition of associate teachers will enable teachers to teach more classes. We do have full-time teachers who can teach a full instruction block. Then we bring in certifiable instructional fellows. Those who are currently studying to be teachers. Gupta explained that we combine these two to increase the number of teachers. Reimagine Prep, Midtown Public Charter School and Midtown Public Charter School both received D and F ratings by the state in their first years. These ratings are based on how schools and districts perform in terms of student achievement, test-score growth and graduation rate. They also reflect students’ participation and participation in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Cooper stated that Reimagine Prep will add square footage to its expansion plan in order to accommodate more students. However, Smilow Prep’s existing building is large enough. Karen Elam, a board member, asked if expanding enrollment would negatively affect the schools’ test scores. Gupta replied, “Every indication suggests this is going to be an even stronger academic year than last year.”