Educator hopes to open charters in Columbus and Jackson

Students in Columbus and in Jackson could soon have another option when it comes to education.

Baskerville Squared (BSquared) Inc., based in Texas, is proposing two new schools – one in Columbus and one in Jackson. The organization’s application is before Mississippi’s Charter Authorizer Board and leaders say they are hopeful that they will be approved very soon.

“The opportunity came up and it felt like a prime time to open a school,” said Marcus Baskerville, Chief Executive Officer. “I have family in Columbus and Jackson and given the current states of education in those areas we want to come in and help with the needs of those communities and foster growth.”

Baskerville said they would first focus on opening the school in Columbus with the Jackson school to come at a later date.

“It feels more targeted there and we want to offer supports that are student-centered,” he said.

Baskerville has more than 20 years in education and most recently served as an assistant principal at a charter school where he currently lives in Texas.

“We are unique because we will offer student-centered learning,” he said. “The charter gives us flexibility to look at the data with our team and adjust if we see something isn’t working. Our teachers have autonomy. We do not want a rigid environment for our teachers. We want to see progression in our teachers, and we encourage them to try new things. Once we see what works we want to replicate it.”

With ties to Mississippi, Baskerville said the goal with the new schools is to provide a voice for the community.

“We have seen a need in Columbus that is not being met and we want to come in and help fill that need,” he continued. “We are about closing gaps. It is critical that our students have an option. We’ve seen a lot of regression with kids through the pandemic, and it’s more important than ever that we offer school choice to all students.”

BSquared is currently in the review phase of their application, and Baskerville said he feels good about where they stand.

“The Mississippi process for applying for a charter is much more streamlined than Texas,” he said. “Texas is oversaturated with charters and because of that they have added more mandates and requirements.”

As Baskerville looks ahead to 2022, his goals for the school are beginning to fall into place.

“We want community engagement,” he said. “We want to be a beacon in our community. We hope to provide a laundromat, a store, and other services to low-income families in the area. We don’t want members of our community to feel like they are less than others because they can’t afford things. It’s about education but it’s also about so much more.”

When the school opens in 2022, pending approval of its charter which could come as soon as September, it will open as a K-5 school.

“We have plans to expand to a K-8 school and eventually to add a high school,” Baskerville said.

Baskerville’s hopes for the future of their students are simple.

“I want them to be enriched with intentional intervention,” he said. “I want them to be well-rounded students who have experienced a rigorous education that will prepare them for life ahead. Most importantly, I want us to build bridges.”