June 25, 2018
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Six would-be charter schools plan to apply for contracts to operate in Maine

By Nell Gluckman, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Six would-be charter schools have told the state that they intend to apply for contracts that would allow them to open in the 2015-16 school year, according to Bob Kautz, director of the Maine Charter Commission.

Groups that wished to apply to form a school needed to submit letters of intent by June 25. Kautz said Friday that the applications needed to be postmarked by that date, so there is still the chance that more letters could come.

The schools that submitted a letter are All of ME Academy, which would be a pre-K to grade five school in Lewiston; Compass Academy of Science and Exploration, which would be a K-5 school in Kennebunkport; Inspire Academy, which would serve grades four to eight in York County; Maine International Charter School, proposed as a high school in southern Maine; Snow Pond Center for the Arts, proposed as a high school in Sidney; and Maine Virtual Academy, an online school that would serve grades seven through 12.

The online school, Maine Virtual Academy, was denied a contract after applying this year. Commissioners cited misgivings about the fact that K12 Inc., the school’s for-profit umbrella company, would have control over the hiring of teachers, among other concerns.

By law, the charter commission can only approve 10 charter schools over the course of 10 years, starting in 2012.

So far, there are five charter schools that are currently in operation in Maine, plus the Maine Connections Academy, an online school that is expected to open for the fall semester.

Maine Connections Academy did not enroll enough students by a deadline set by the charter commission, but was given an extension until July 15. The school needs 243 intent to enroll letters and had 240 as of Wednesday, according to board member Amy Linscott

“I do think having six [applications] is a continuing indication of interest around the state in having more charter schools,” Kautz said.

The next step for these schools is to turn in completed applications by August 25. If the applications are complete, a review team made up of three commissioners and others will evaluate the application and interview the applicant.

If the application is approved, a public hearing about the school will be held before the commission takes a final vote.

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