Charter Commission advances 3 applications, schedules public hearings

Following committee reviews, three proposed public charter schools including one in Lewiston and two virtuals have moved to the next stage in the State’s application process, which includes public hearings next week

AUGUSTA – The public will have the opportunity to weigh-in next week on three public charter schools proposed to open in Maine this fall.

Earlier today, Maine Charter School Commission (MCSC) members working in small review teams presented their recommendations on four applications, with the entire seven-member Commission then voting to advance applications from Lewiston-Auburn Academy Charter School, Lewiston; Maine Connections Academy; and Maine Virtual Academy. The application for Many Hands Montessori School in Windham did not move forward.

The Commission will now consider the proposed public schools, and hold in-person interviews and a public hearing on each application next week before voting at its March 4 meeting whether to enter into contract negotiations with each applicant or deny the application. All proceedings are open to the public.

The in-person interview for the applicants proposing the virtual Maine Connections Academy will be held on Monday, Feb.3 from noon to 3 p.m., also in the Richard J. Randall Student Center Lounge at the University of Maine at Augusta. A public hearing will follow at the same location from 4 to 7 p.m. and written comments will be accepted by the Commission through 1 p.m. on Feb. 11.

The in-person interview for the applicants proposing the online Maine Virtual Academy will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 4 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Richard J. Randall Student Center Lounge at the University of Maine at Augusta. A public hearing will follow at the same location from 4 to 7 p.m. and written comments will be accepted by the Commission through 1 p.m. on Feb. 12.

The in-person interview for the applicants proposing the Lewiston-Auburn Academy Charter School will be held on Friday, Feb. 7 from noon to 3 p.m. in Room 103 of Kirk Hall at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. A public hearing will follow at the same location from 4 to 7 p.m. and written comments will be accepted by the Commission through 1 p.m. on Feb. 15.

Written public comment on any of the applications can be sent to mcsc@maine.gov or the Maine Charter School Commission, 182 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0182. Submissions can also be delivered in-person to the 5th Floor of the Burton Cross State House Office Building in Augusta.

In 2011, Governor Paul R. LePage signed legislation making Maine the 41st state to allow charter schools and establishing the seven-member Commission as an authorizer of up to 10 public charter schools through June 30, 2022. Local school boards can additionally authorize public charter schools.

Currently, there are five charter schools effectively serving more than 400 Maine students including Cornville Regional Charter School, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Hinckley, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, Fiddlehead School of Arts and Science in Gray and Harpswell Coastal Academy.

For more information about the Maine Charter School Commission or to see the current applications under review, visit www.maine.gov/csc.

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