Mississippi is one step closer to getting its first charter school with the announcement today that the state's authorizing board has approved the application for a charter middle school to open in Jackson for the 2015-16 school year.
Reimagine Prep was the only school out of a total of 12 applicants to receive approval under Mississippi's new charter school law. The law, passed in 2013, created the authorizing board and allows it to open up to 15 new charters annually in the state. Mississippi did have a charter school law prior to this one, but no charter schools in operation.
Reimagine Prep will be run by RePublic Schools, a Nashville-based charter management organization. The school plans to operate in South Jackson out of a facility owned by the New Horizon Church International, and the church's bishop is also a co-chair on Reimagine's board of advisers. This partnership was vital to winning approval from the Mississippi Charter School Authorizing Board, according to RePublic Schools' managing partner, Ravi Gupta.
"The first thing that mattered was our track record of success in Nashville," Gupta said. "The second thing that mattered was our level of support in the community in Jackson, and the fact that we had the support from one of the largest African-American churches in Jackson."
Reimagine Prep plans to open with 120 5th graders, adding a grade each year until the school has grades 5 through 8. All Jackson Public Schools students are eligible to attend Reimagine Prep, but the school plans to concentrate its recruitment efforts in South Jackson.