Maine Charter Commission Approves Two New Charter Schools

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

AUGUSTA — The Maine Charter School Commission approved two new charter schools on Tuesday to open next fall: the Harpswell Coastal Academy and the Fiddlehead School of Arts and Sciences in Gray.

Each application was reviewed by a team of Commission members and was reviewed for its education plan, the proposed organizational and operational plan, and its governance, business and financial information. The review teams made recommendations to the full Commission regarding each application as to whether it appeared to demonstrate competence in each element of the Commission’s approved criteria. Each applicant also had to demonstrate that they were likely to successfully open and operate a charter school.

The Harpswell school review team said the school incorporates a vast array of practical life principles woven into its education plan and utilizes the ocean, wetlands and farmlands as a central aspect of the school’s resources. The first year enrollment for the school will be 60 students in grades 6 and 9. The school in five years will encompass grades 6 through 12 with an anticipated enrollment of 280 in five years.

The Commission review team reported that the other applicant, Fiddlehead brings strong academics, innovation, strong parent organization, capable staff, and the skills and capacity to create a successful charter school. Their program will be based upon the Reggio Emilia philosophy with place-based learning, multiple intelligences, art integration, and inquiry-based learning. Fiddlehead will open with an enrollment of 30 students in grades pre-kindergarten and Grade 1. In five years it will reach a total of 90 students through grade five.

Both schools must now enter contract negotiations with the Commission.

Jana Lapoint, chair of the Commission, said, “Decisions for approval or denial of an application require a rigorous review as the ultimate responsibility of the Commission is to ensure that a quality education is provided to all students attending a public charter school. Today’s approval of these schools is good news for the State of Maine as it provides additional choices for parents as they seek an education that best meets their child’s individual needs and learning style. These two programs can serve as an alternative model of learning that other schools might consider and replicate. They join three other schools that have been previously approved. ”

The Maine Charter School Commission law has been recently commended by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools as second in the nation for requiring best practices that support charter school success. The Maine law was specifically commended for the four components of quality control: transparent charter application, review, and decision-making processes; performance-based charter contracts; comprehensive charter school monitoring and data collection processes; and, clear processes for renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions.

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

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