Reeves fills final spots on charter school board

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (AP photo)

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (AP photo)

By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves filled the final three spots Friday on the newly minted Charter School Authorizing Board that is slated to begin operations in September.

On Friday, he announced the appointments of Ocean Springs Superintendent Bonita Coleman-Potter, Ridgeland attorney Tommie Cardin and Oxford businesswoman Karen Elam to the Charter School panel.
Reeves praised the three for agreeing to “contribute their time and expertise to creating a strong public charter school program. Every child in Mississippi deserves an opportunity for a better education, and public charter schools allow parents to have school choice for their children.”

The seven-member Authorizing Board was created during the 2013 session as part of legislation greatly expanding the charter school law. Charter schools are public schools, but do not have to adhere to many of the regulations and governance of traditional public schools. In turn, they agree to certain performance levels.

“Public charter schools will raise the quality of education Mississippi children are receiving as well as provide an incentive for traditional schools to strive for improved results,” said Elam, a former college professor who is a private consultant dealing with regulatory issues in the food and drug ingredient industry. “I look forward to serving and helping shape this new initiative to provide families better school choice.”

Gov. Phil Bryant announced his three appointments to the board in early August. Interim State Superintendent Lynn House will be the seventh member of the Board.

The board will set guidelines and approve applications for charter schools.

The law calls for the governor to call the first meeting of the board “as soon as practicable” after Sept. 1. Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock said Friday the governor would announce the first meeting at a later date.

The plan is for charter schools to be in operation for the start of the 2015 school year.

The new board can approve schools in low-performing D and F districts. In A, B and C districts, the local boards have veto authority. Up to 15 charter schools per year can be located in the state.

Board members must be confirmed by the Senate in 2014.

At some point, the board is expected to hire an executive director.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com