Mississippi charter school board considers hiring executive director

3868393_GJACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi’s Charter School Authorizer Board could hire its first executive director next month after discussing applications in closed session Thursday.

Board members say they received 38 applications from as far away as Hawaii, and voted to interview finalists at their August meeting. No names of finalists were disclosed during the meeting Thursday. Until now, the five board members, with the help of consultants, have been running the agency.

Mississippi lawmakers in 2013 created the board when they passed an expanded law allowing charter schools — public schools run by private groups that agree to meet certain standards in exchange for less regulation.

The board also voted to start the second cycle of applications after approving one charter school in the first round. They say they plan to call for applications on July 15, with applicants submitting letters announcing their intent to apply on Aug. 15. Full applications would be due Sept. 15, with the board voting on applicants in December.

This time, the board will require applicants to prove their eligibility when submitting letters of intent, instead of when they submit full applications. In the first application period this spring, the board disqualified a number of applicants for not being federally certified nonprofit groups.

The board is still negotiating its contract with ReImagine Prep, the school it has approved to open in Jackson. That school is scheduled to open in fall 2015. Thursday, the board appointed a committee to work out the contract, which is supposed to include academic performance standards the school will have to meet in order to get its contract renewed after five years.

ReImagine Prep will be run by RePublic Schools, which currently has two schools in Nashville, Tennessee, and plans to open a third this fall. RePublic plans to open in a building owned by New Horizon Ministries, one of Jackson’s largest churches, with 440 students in grades 5-8.