BASTROP -- The process for a school to become charter status can be a lengthy one, but a junior high school in Morehouse Parish successfully passed through most of the stages to reach that charter status.
It could be months away from the change.
Beekman Junior High School near Bastrop is going through the same charter process as Neville High School in Monroe, but Beekman has already won the approval from teachers, and is two steps away from becoming a charter three school.
Charter board president Keith Huntsman has been working on the application process for Beekman JHS since April.
"It's been a struggle filling out the forms and applications but so far, we're on track," he said.
Many schools have struggled through the charter process -- but Beekman is just two steps away from the finish line. The next stop is the school board and then a federal judge.
"Once he approves it, we'll have our charter school," Huntsman said.
Morehouse parish schools superintendent George Noflin says it's been a learning process for everyone.
"So far, it's been a good working relationship with the charter board members and myself," he said. "I'm looking forward to continuing that relationship."
If the school becomes a charter, the district will contract services to Beekman.
"Services which include food, transportation, psychological, special education," Noflin said. "We have to establish contract because they'll receive funds and we'll have to contract those services out to them."
Although the 400-page paperwork has been daunting, Huntsman says a lot of their success in gaining support is by thoroughly educating the community.
"It's a different system than what everybody's used to, and just getting people to come around and see how a charter works and why we think it's a positive step for our community," he said.
The board took tours of other charter schools in the area -- like Delhi Charter -- to fully understand how those schools operate. Then, they brought those findings to community meeting, giving the public a voice during the charter process.
"They won approval by completing anonymous surveys and they had to have 70 to 80 percent of teachers in favor of Beekman going charter," said Noflin. "And they met that criteria."
The charter won approval by teachers 29 to 1.
If they make it to the finish line in becoming a charter, Huntsman says teachers are looking at library upgrades and technology tools and even offering foreign language courses.
"The teachers have a little more leeway in how they teach their class and by having a board that is primarily interested in that school, you can address problems quicker and easier that come up during the school year," he said.
Huntsman says they'll receive word on a decision of approval by the Morehouse Parish School board in December or January. The process then goes through a federal judge, and after that, they've reached charter status.