The Mississippi State Senate today approved legislation to allow parents a choice in their children's education through charter schools, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves announced. The bill, which passed 34-17, was held on a motion to reconsider.

Senate Bill 2401 will allow charter schools to open in Mississippi with approval from a newly created independent commission. The charter schools will be public schools with no entrance requirements and no tuition. They operate under a contract that allows administrative freedom and flexibility in exchange for exceptional levels of results-driven accountability.

"Charter schools are another tool in the toolbox to improve the education attainment level of our citizens," Reeves said. "Parents deserve to have a choice in their children's education. This bill gives parents a choice and gives more Mississippi kids a chance for success."

Students attending public charter schools must comply with provisions of the Mississippi compulsory school attendance law, meet health and safety standards, and adhere to state testing model. This legislation does not require charter schools; it simply gives a community the option to support a public charter school to enter into their district.

The newly created commission will be comprised of appointees from the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Department of Education and Institutions of Higher Learning. The commission will consider applications from charter school providers with a proven track record of success.

Public charter schools will be funded with existing dollars from the federal, state and local levels. The funds within the current Mississippi Adequate Education Program will follow a student to their school of choice. Public charter schools could be allowed in any district in the state. However, the local school boards of districts rated as "star" or "high performing" by the state Department of Education also would have to give a stamp of approval to any charter school seeking to open within those top districts.