Is it time for a charter school in Mound Bayou?

Posted by Ronald | February 11, 2018  |  1 Comment

As recently reported in the Mississippi Today, John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Mound Bayou will close in the school year 2018-19 due to a decrease in funds, enrollment and certified teachers. In accepting Superintendent Maurice Smith’s cost saving plan, the decision for closure was made at a previous board meeting of the North Bolivar Consolidated School District (NBCSD).

According to Mississippi Today, Smith explained to concerned parents and other stakeholders, there is a significant budgetary shortfall at NBCSD. This includes a loss of $750,000 in 2014; a deficit of $747,448 at the close of the school year 2016-17; a deficit of $3.5 million needed to fix maintenance repairs; and a 3.5 percent reduction ($200,000) in state funding under the proposed education funding.

While these are tough financial challenges for school districts nationwide, it is especially devastating to a small predominantly Black community. Mound Bayou was founded by freed slaves and has always placed an emphasis on education. It has a proud history of insurance companies, credit unions, newspapers, businesses and a hospital owned, managed and patronized by Black residents. So the critical questions to be asked are: Is it time for a charter school in Mound Bayou? What is a charter school? What is the charter school process in Mississippi? Is there funding in Mississippi for charter schools?

Just as businesses must provide customers a quality product or service, schools must offer students a quality education. When they do not, parents have the right to choose alternatives to educate their children. One alternative is a charter school. This type of school is operated as a school district, part of a school district, for-profit organization or non-profit organization without the micromanagement by the government. Charter schools are the largest vehicles for school choice to parents in America’s public schools according to the Center for Research on Education Outcomes. In the school year 2016-17, there were 6,900 charter schools serving 3.1 million students (Wikipedia).

Charter schools first originated in 1991 through the passing of legislation in Minnesota. These schools are given more autonomy than traditional public schools to create innovative curricula, programs and services to meet the needs of specific students. In 1997, legislation for a charter school was first passed In Mississippi. In 2013, a new legislation was passed called the Mississippi Public Charter Schools Acts. It defines public charter schools as public schools that are governed by an independent governing board; have autonomy over decisions including personnel, finance, scheduling, curriculum and instruction; do not charge tuition, etc.

Through Mississippi’s legislation, charter schools are approved and supervised by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board (MCSAB). This organization can approve only 15 applications each year. Currently, there are only five charter schools approved by MCSAB. Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School (K-8), slated to open in the Fall 2018, is the first charter school approved to operate in the Mississippi Delta. The other four charter schools (Midtown Public; Reimagine Prep; Smilow Prep; and Smilow Collegiate) are located in Jackson, Miss.

In order for a school district such as North Bolivar Consolidated School District to apply for a charter school in Mound Bayou, the district must adhere to the guidelines of the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board. Through a rigorous online application process, MCSAB is currently inviting proposals for high-quality charter schools seeking to open in the school year 2019-2020 or thereafter.

Considering the state of North Bolivar Consolidated School District’s financial shortfalls, it might be time to partner with MCSAB to fulfill the necessary requirements to convert John F. Kennedy Memorial High School and/or I.T. Montgomery Middle into a charter school (K-12). Adding to the charter school funding in Mississippi, MCSAB in 2017 received a $15 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand high-quality charter schools in Mississippi. The goal of the grant is to open 15 new charter schools in the next five years and ensure all charter schools achieve two letter grades by their third year of operation or an “A or “B” rating.

Whereas, Mound Boyou is known for economic empowerment and resilience, in my opinion, it can maintain its historic legacy through the creation of a high-quality charter school in line with the standards of MCSAB.

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of 16 books and publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper.  These books include How to Eradicate Hazing; How to Eradicate Cyber Bullying; How to Eradicate Schoolyard Bullying; and How to Eradicate Workplace Bullying. These books serve as a reference guide to an online anti-bullying program that provides training for all students, parents, employees, and managers. These books are also equipped with a 24 hour Web Based Reporting, Tracking, Training and Documentation System that allow individuals to report bullying incidents anonymously from the home, school, work and community. Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator, test developer and district superintendent.

Click on this link to see a description of all of Dr. Ronald Holmes’ books

One Comment

  1. andrew says:

    The charter school alternative should be chosen. It is the plan which will enable the citizens of Mound Bayou to have and maintain control over the school. However, the process requires focused, dedicated and committed determination. The state along with the people of Shelby is going to attempt to use every possible technique to block and hinder the application.
    A Charter School Committee should be established immediately. A cross-section of the community should be included within the committee which will promote unity and address various commuity concerns. The committee should immediately secure an application as well as a copy of the charter application, etc. which was used to established the charter school in clarksdale. It should be public record. Next, the charter school committee should established subcommittees to undertake and perform other assigned duties. Your important committees probably should be the curriculum, legal, fund raising, physical plant, mission and vision, school objectives, human resources, attendance and pupil accountablity, publicity, technology, application, textbooks and state standards, testing, school climate and culture, school supplies and furniture, extra-curriculum (covers sports and non-instructional related areas), transportation and maintenance. The charter school committee should be the main committee overseeing designated committees. Persons from Mound Bayou who have extensive exoeriences within in the state legislature, etc. should be asked to serve on various committees also. Your HBCU’s (Mississippi Valley State University, Jackson State, Rust College, Alcorn) within the state should be an part of the process because they can provide needed resources(teachers to work and be trained by experienced teachers within the school).
    The process should encompass various stages which will give order, structure and direction to the process. The results will enable the citizens of Mound Bayou to secure a charter school to meet the educational needs, etc. of the the students in Mound Bayou. Consideration should be given whether to make securing a school in Mound Bayou a national project. I received a statement stating dulpicate comments but these are more detailed.

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