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Charter school board votes to hire Louisiana woman as executive director

booksJACKSON — An official with Louisiana’s Recovery School District is likely to be the first executive director of Mississippi’s Charter School Authorizer Board.

The board voted 5-0 yesterday to hire Marian Schutte, pending approval by the state Personnel Board. If that board approves, Schutte could start work by early November, in time to help the board reach decisions over the second year of charter school applications. Earlier this year, the board gave the green light for one school to open in Jackson.

Schutte has handled charter school authorization and monitoring for the Louisiana agency, which has taken over a number of schools, mostly in New Orleans. Before that, she was a teacher in a charter school in New Orleans and earned a master’s degree in education policy from Vanderbilt University. The district has turned most of its New Orleans schools into charters.

“I really believe in charter schools as a way for kids to learn across the nation and I believe that Mississippi is a great place for charter schools to come and serve kids who need options where the local schools have not been that great,” Schutte said.

Charter Board Chairman Tommie Cardin said that Schutte’s experience teaching in and then overseeing charter schools, plus her work inside a state agency, make her the right candidate for the job. He said a second finalist, an unidentified Mississippi resident, was also considered.

The board voted to offer Schutte a $95,000 salary, plus a $10,000 relocation allowance. Cardin said the board settled on that amount after considering advice from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and looking at average pay for superintendents in Mississippi’s 147 local school districts.

“What we’re asking her to do is build a state agency from scratch with no other employees,” Cardin said.

For its first year, the board has relied on its members and a contractor to handle operations.

Cardin said he hoped Schutte would be able to encourage more groups to apply to open charter schools as well as help people understand what’s needed to open a charter school.

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