Seven charter schools apply for five available slots in Maine

Posted Sept. 05, 2013, at 1:51 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Charter School Commission has received notices that seven organizations intend to apply to open new public charter schools in the fall of 2014.

The applications will include two resubmissions for statewide virtual charter schools, which the commission has declined to act on in the past because members said they needed more training before voting on the applications.

The letters to the commission came from the following organizations:

— Adventures in Learning Career Academies in Portland, which intends to open for grade six students and add a grade every year until the school serves approximately 600 students in sixth through 12th grades. According to its letter of intent, the organization hopes to combine traditional academic programs with industry-standard certification programs for specific occupations. The school would have three parts, including a business academy, a health care academy and one that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. Adventures in Learning K-12 Inc., which is proposing the school, is a national education services provider founded in 1999 by nationally recognized educator Delia Armstrong-Busby, according to the letter.

— Birches Montessori School for deaf and hard of hearing students and their hearing peers, which seeks to serve students in kindergarten through grade six in the central Maine area. According to its letter of intent, the Bath-based organization proposes to serve 30 to 60 students from Sagadahoc, Cumberland, Androscoggin, Lincoln and Kennebec counties. The letter is signed by Christy M. Callahan, head of school, and Matthew M. Callahan, chief financial officer.

— Inspire ME Academy in the Sanford/Springvale area, which seeks to serve grades four through six initially and add grades seven and eight in the next two years. According to its letter of intent, the organization would serve primarily low-income and special-needs students. The academy would offer free lunches and uniforms as well as a longer school day. The school aims to attract up to 200 students within three years.

— Lewiston-Auburn Academy Charter School, which seeks to serve up to 420 students focused on science, technology, engineering and math with a “strong foundation” in humanities, according to its letter of intent.

— Maine Connections Academy and Maine Virtual Academy, which would be statewide virtual charter schools. Both organizations have submitted applications to the commission in the past and both participated in a June workshop with the commission focused on the need for more defined information in the commission’s requests and the organizations’ applications. Maine Connections Academy aims to attract 750 students, as does Maine Virtual Academy.

Many Hands Montessori School in Windham, which seeks to serve kindergarten through third grade initially and expand to K-8 in the long term for a total of about 100 students.

The full applications are due on Dec. 2.

This marks the third round of applications submitted to the commission since the Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage enacted a law allowing public charter schools in Maine in 2011. According to the law, under which five public charter schools already have been approved, the commission can approve a maximum of 10 charter school applications in 10 years. The law allows local school districts to create an unlimited number of charter schools but so far none have done so.

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