Established to empower and inform local residents and the area at-large, the Montgomery Institute has received a $78,000 federal grant to study whether or not a charter is needed in Meridian. Along with the basic subjects, the proposed charter school would have a core curriculum based on the science and health fields.
If found to be a need, institute chairman Bill Crawford say the charter school will work hand-and-hand with the public school system.
"We don't need to be in a competitive situation. This needs to be a positive, collaborative effort for the entire community to take a look at something. If it works fine but if it doesn't, well, we'll go down another avenue."
Aside from the charter school study, Crawford says a separate piece of research is underway examining the possibility of establishing a magnet school at Meridian High. For example, this could be done by creating a special performing arts program at the school. Interim superintendent Sylvia Autry says both the health and performing arts programs would be welcomed additions.
"We need to do some type of redesign of our high school and perhaps our junior highs because now in those areas, we are not meeting many of the student's needs."
Autry says the main difference between charter and magnet schools is how they operate.
Meanwhile, with Meridian's three hospitals and the development of Mississippi State University's Performing Arts Complex in downtown, school officials say the support systems are here for the proposed schools.
As part of the feasibility studies, researchers will look into how each of the programs could be funded and would operate. We're told that results from the studies could be available within the next year.