- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - A group hoping to bring a charter school to Columbus is not submitting an application this year.

The deadline for charter school hopefuls to submit a letter of intent to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board was Tuesday.

“We’re going to sit this round out,” Darren Leach, executive director of Inspire Charter School, told The Commercial Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1Ekd3x3 ).

“We want to make sure we have the right team together to do it well,” he said.

Inspire Charter School has applied to the state Charter School Authorizer Board twice. Both times, the applications were rejected.

Last December, the state board reviewed Inspire Charter’s application for a school that would serve 360 students in grades K-6. The group made it to the second round of the approval process, but ultimately board members found flaws in teaching, operating and finance plans.

Leach said the Columbus group had been planning on applying this year, but have since decided that to succeed they need to take their time.

“By sitting out this time, we can put 12 months into the application,” Leach said.

Leach said the group has adjusted their application to fill the gaps presented to them by the board. In the past, he said, they have rushed the application. By taking their time, he said the group believes it can be approved by the board down the road.

The state board was created in 2014. Only two schools in the state have achieved their charter. Both schools are in the Jackson area and are slated to open in August 2015.

Mississippi lawmakers in 2013 approved an expanded law allowing charter schools, which are public schools run by private groups that agree to meet certain standards in exchange for less regulation.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, https://www.cdispatch.com

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