Charter School Commission approves Academy of Natural Sciences

The following is a news release from the Maine Charter School Commission.

AUGUSTA – The Maine Charter School Commission voted Friday to approve the application from the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences to move to the contract phase that will result in becoming the first public charter school in Maine’s history.

MEANS will provide innovative education to under-engaged, at-risk, but motivated students through a project-based educational platform that combines traditional academic content with agriculture and forestry as primary themes. The program, hosted on the campus of Good Will-Hinckley, will continue the century-old tradition of that facility to serve underachieving students.

In the first year, the school hopes to meet the needs of about 40 students. By law, a charter school is a publicly funded program in which the dollars follow the child. In addition, the school will receive some support from the Good Will-Hinckley Home Association and from fundraising activities. The contract will include very clear expectations for student achievement, staffing, funding and curriculum and will be closely monitored by the Maine Charter School Commission.

Chairman Jim Banks praised the seven-member Commission, “This team has worked night and day for six months reviewing thousands of pages of documents from six applications that resulted in this historical day for the state of Maine. We have a deep responsibility to the state and its citizens to be sure that our process of authorizing charter schools assures success for the students and the school and provides a model that can be replicable as we meet the diverse needs of our children from Kittery to Ft. Kent.”

Banks indicated that the Commission will carefully review and make a decision on two other applications Monday, July 2. Those two applications, from Baxter School of Technology and Science in Portland and Cornville Regional Charter School, are very different in concept and curriculum and have been carefully reviewed by subcommittees of the Commission. By current law, the Commission can authorize up to 10 public charter schools over the next decade.

“We know that there will be great desire to expand the charter school movement in Maine as new charter schools demonstrate the ability to improve student achievement through the uniqueness of their model, so it is crucial that the Commission provide strong stewardship from day one,” Mr. Banks concluded. “This is a great day, and we can only predict the long term gain to the state.”

For more information about the Maine Charter School Commission, visit: www.maine.gov/csc or call 624-6638.

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