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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Questions, interest building on charter school potential in Morehouse Parish

  • There will be two separate, but related public meetings tonight concerning a push – or at least inquiry – into converting public schools in Morehouse Parish into charter schools.


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  • There will be two separate, but related public meetings tonight concerning a push – or at least inquiry – into converting public schools in Morehouse Parish into charter schools.

    Terry Middlebrooks, local businessman and a parent of graduates of MP schools, thinks it's an opportunity to move the district into a more productive direction.

    He spoke at the July 3 MPS board meeting and advised that now is the time to pursue the changes publicly before a private enterprise intervenes.

    “The state has let us place our oranges on the table so we can make orange juice,” Middlebrooks quipped Wednesday.

    The school board retreat starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Resource Center; the public is invited.

    MPS board president Ron Vollmar said the meeting is purely informational, and one initiated by new superintendent Dr. George Noflin in response to several board members wanting to find out more on the subject.

    “This meeting is just to learn more, to find out the ups and downs on charter schools. It is not to indicate that the system is for charter schools, or is against them,” Vollmar said.

    Also tonight, a public meeting concerning charter schools, at least in the Beekman area of the parish, is set to begin at 7 p.m. at Bethel Baptist Church.

    A grass-roots effort to initiate the process for a charter school in Beekman emerged about two months ago.

    “The consensus is building toward becoming charters,” said Middlebrooks, who added that he has received favorable response on the possibility from each school board member.

    Under Louisiana's board of education, there are multiple avenues that charter schools can be formally pursued.

    The Beekman group, Beekman Alumni and Friends Inc., has filed under Type 3, meaning that the district would fall under the limited scope of the current school district's supervision.

    Middlebrooks is convinced that charter schools can enable Morehouse Parish to break away from the bureaucracy of state education regulations and instead be governed locally – with individual taxing districts – and jointly under MPS, depending on how many other charter schools join.

    He says the move could, in one aspect, help schools develop curriculum that would align with local industries, like agriculture.

    The owner of a family-run sports store, Team Sports, Middlebrooks says the transformation in local education has absolute implications to the future of Morehouse Parish's economy.

    “We need people succeeding,” he said. “We can continue on our economic path – which reality tells us is not succeeding – or we can move forward with something new.”

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