The Morehouse Parish School Board will vote on Tuesday, Jan. 8 as to whether or not Beekman Junior High School has their approval to become a Charter school.
Kimberly Williams, a third party evaluator and owner of New Millennium Education, is responsible for reviewing the Beekman Charter School application and will be present at the next MPSB meeting to release her recommendation or disapproval of the application.
"Because of their autonomy charter schools have more flexibility than regular schools," Williams said. "They are not required to engage in collective bargains, like the teacher union. They are have more flexibility in how to use their funding because they are not required to pay all the public overhead costs."
Williams said charter schools should be viewed as an option and a choice, not as a threat.
"Some people say they take money from the public schools, but they do not," she said. "They are just allowed more freedom with their funding."
MPSB superintendent George Noflin said teachers at charter schools are not required to have the same certifications as pubic schools, but the students are still required to take the same state mandated tests.
"Some of the requirements that the State of Louisiana Department of Education have for public schools are not as strenuous for charter schools," Noflin said. "One of them includes the teacher certification requirements."
If the MPSB votes in favor of the formation of the Type 3 charter school, Noflin said the Beekman Charter Board will still have to apply for acceptance at the Louisiana Department of Justice in Baton Rouge.
If rejected the Beekman Charter Board may choose to apply for acceptance through the Board Elementary Secondary Education, however, the Beekman Board is optimistic and hopeful that the MPSB will vote in favor of the charter school.
Lisa Chain, secretary and treasurer of Beekman Alumni and Friends, said the parents of students she spoke to at surrounding charter schools are pleased with the freedom that a charter school enjoys in comparison to a public school.
If approved by the Morehouse Parish School Board, Beekman Junior High School plans on the addition of a high school as well.
"The way our district works is that kids in Log Cabin attend Pine Grove Elementary until the fifth grade, and then they go to Beekman Junior High and after that they go to either Bastrop High, Prairie View Academy or Ouachita Christian School," Chain said. "It would be nice to have the kids at Beekman be able to stay in Beekman all the way through high school."
"People are waiting to see if this charter school passes," Chain said. "If it does there will be many people moving to this area very soon."
Page 2 of 2 - Chain said the $120 million wood pellet mill will be located only four miles away from Beekman and said she expects local commerce to flourish due to formation of the new business and the possibility of the charter school.
If the school does become a charter school applications from those who are in the school district will be accepted first, and if there is enough room, a lottery will be held to choose the remaining students to be accepted.