A Mississippi board has cleared the way for a charter school to open next year in Greenwood.

The state Charter School Authorizer Board on Monday approved the application of Leflore Legacy Academy, the only new charter school to be approved during this year’s round of applications.

It is scheduled to open for the 2020-21 school year. For the first year, the school will only have sixth grade. Plans call for later expansion to grades 6 through 8.

Charter schools are public schools that receive tax money but are operated by private, nonprofit groups and are separate from local districts and the state Board of Education.

This academic year, Mississippi has six charter schools. Five are in Jackson, and one is in Clarksdale.

The executive director of the state Charter School Authorizer Board, Lisa Karmacharya, said nobody submitted public comments against Leflore Legacy Academy.

The new charter school will be under the auspices of MS Delta Academies, which is headed by Dr. Tamala Boyd Shaw, a Memphis area educator and graduate of Amanda Elzy High School.

Tamala Boyd Shaw

Shaw

Her application for Leflore Legacy Academy made it to the final stage last year before it was turned down over concerns about the school’s proposed curriculum and its focus on college prep for middle schoolers.

Shaw told Mississippi Today, following the an-nouncement that her application had been approved, that the process “taught me that delayed does not necessarily mean denied. Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board and see what the feedback really said and how you have to work toward getting to the goal.”

She said the school plans to enroll 120 students in its first year. She anticipates starting with about a dozen teachers, administrators and support personnel. Shaw will serve as head of school. She said she will move from her home in Olive Branch to Greenwood.

Shaw is now awaiting directions from the Charter School Authorizer Board on getting the school up and running by next fall. “They have next steps that approved applicants are to follow,” she said.

Among the decisions to be made are a location for the school. “We are discussing possible locations for a facility,” Shaw said. “We will look to narrow that down later in our planning.”

She said in the meantime she will be looking to increase her board with members who have a strong educational or philanthropic background.

She said she is looking forward to working with the community to “make education the focus for Greenwood and Leflore County.”

Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or tkalich@gwcommonwealth.com.

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