Two more public charter schools OK’d

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

AUGUSTA – The Maine Charter School Commission voted Tuesday to approve two more public charter schools. Members unanimously approved the Baxter Academy of Technology and Science to open in Portland in the fall of 2013, and reversed an earlier vote by approving the Cornville Regional Charter School to open this fall.

The two approvals are in addition to the Commission’s approval last month of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences for a fall 2012 opening.

The organizers of all three schools still must negotiate contracts with the Commission before they can enroll students. The Commission is scheduled to meet July 31 to vote on final contracts with the two that are expected to open this fall. By law, the schools cannot open until 60 days after a contract is signed, meaning a likely Oct. 1 start, at the earliest.

At its last meeting, Commission members said they had concerns about the financial strength of Baxter’s plan. Members said they were more comfortable following the submission of additional information. They said the one-year delay in opening gave them more confidence the organizers would be able to muster the financial resources necessary.

“The location is what’s going to be outstanding, not only for the students but the faculty. And the greater Portland area,” said Jana Lapoint, the Commission chair. “We have a strong need in southern Maine for STEM programs and we need the types of students who will come out of those programs.”

The Commission had previously rejected the Cornville application in a 3-3 vote, but on Tuesday agreed to reconsider. Members said after the vote that organizers provided additional clarification about their budget and did a better job of identifying the benefits their school would provide. Members voted 5-1 to approve the application.

The Commission can authorize up to 10 public charter schools over the next decade.

Also at the meeting, Commission members elected Lapoint of Falmouth, as the new chair, and Dr. Richard Barnes of Kennebunkport to be the new vice chair. Both were already members of the Commission. They also accepted the resignation of Don Mordecai, who has been in ill health.

“We accept his resignation with the deepest regret,” Lapoint said. “He gave guidance and clarity and was a great resource for us on issues of governance and budget procedures.”

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