Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School has not said they want two buildings being offered by Clarksdale Municipal School District, but they are hiring an attorney to pursue acquiring the two properties.
The CMSD has been looking to get rid of Myrtle Hall IV elementary school building on Fifth Street and the old Clarksdale High School on School Street. Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School legally had first right of refusal.
The deal has been repeatedly discussed by both entities, but this is the first real action toward getting the facilities by Clarksdale’s charter school.
Clarksdale Collegiate has repeatedly expressed interest in both facilities and the board gave executive director Amanda Johnson permission to hire an attorney to move forward during Monday’s meeting.
“The board approved engaging with an attorney to discuss the next step on the facility,” Johnson said.
She said she has not decided on any specific attorney at this point.
Johnson said Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School may choose to acquire one or both of the buildings. She said whatever building or buildings the school uses would mainly be for seventh and eighth graders. Some offices, including Johnson’s and the director of finance, may be moved to one of those buildings.
Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School will enroll kindergarteners through fifth graders in 2021-22 school year. One grade will be added each year until the school enrolls kindergarten through eighth graders.
“Our current facility has enough space for kindergarten through sixth grade,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that means Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School would need to have Myrtle Hall IV elementary school and/or the old Clarksdale High School ready by the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.
In other business:
Johnson reported the retention rate was where she wanted it to be, but attendance for the 2020-21 school year was lower than usual due to the COVID pandemic.
All staff had a 95 percent retention rate, students and instructional staff each had a 92 percent retention rate.
The attendance rate was at 87 percent, but it is expected to be higher next year.
“We’re having some of the precautions in place, but we’ll be back to traditional,” Johnson said. “We’ll be 100 percent in next year Monday through Friday traditional.”
There will still be face masks, hand sanitizer, frequent hand washing and temperatures may still be taken. Most of the precautions will be long-term.
“The only question would be the face mask,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure how long those will be mandated.”
The 2021-22 school year is still scheduled to start August 2.
“We’re still on schedule,” Johnson said.
Two new buildings are being constructed on the school’s property at 1012 West Second Street and are expected to be ready by the start of school.
“The major work that has to be done is the renovation on the existing building,” Johnson said.
She said renovations began in May following the 2020-21 school year. The modular classrooms in the parking lot will no longer exist.
“Those classrooms will go away once they’re finished with the new building,” Johnson said. “They might not be gone before we start the school year, but soon after we’ll get rid of them.”
There will be room for 75 students for each grade in kindergarten through fifth grade next year.
Johnson said there are 71 children enrolled for kindergarten in 2021-22, but the other grades have waiting lists.
Teresa Thornton was also hired as the new director of finance.
“We had a third-party vendor who was doing in our finances and then we had an interim person in until we hired a permanent one,” Johnson said.
4th Sector Solutions from Baton Rouge, La., was the third-party vendor and Anika Baltimore was the interim person.
“I think a lot of times when you have a vendor you don’t always get individualized attention,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Thornton will have a bigger role as the director of finance than 4th Sector Solutions and Baltimore did.
The exact pay has not been determined, but Johnson said the salary range would be $60,000 to $80,000 a year.