Charter Commission advances virtual school proposal, schedules public hearing

A public virtual charter school opened earlier this year is serving nearly 300 students from 86 school districts and an application for another online charter hoping to open next year has now moved forward

AUGUSTA – A second public virtual charter school being proposed in Maine was unanimously advanced to the next round of review by the state’s Charter Commission today.

At a meeting this morning in Augusta, Maine Charter School Commission  members working in small review teams presented their recommendations on three applications, with the Commission then voting to advance the application for the online Maine Virtual Academy. Meanwhile, the Commission unanimously agreed applications for Acadia Academy, proposed for Lewiston-Auburn, and Inspire ME Academy, proposed for the Sanford area, should not move forward.

The entire seven-member Commission will now continue to evaluate the proposed school, holding an in-person interview with the applicant and a public hearing before voting at its Nov. 13 meeting whether to enter into contract negotiations with the applicant or deny the application. All proceedings are open to the public.

The in-person interview for the applicant proposing the online Maine Virtual Academy will be held on Monday, Oct. 27, from 10 to 11:15 a.m. in Room J-314 at Central Maine Community College at 1250 Turner Street in Auburn.  A public hearing will follow at the same location from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Commission will additionally accept written comments on the application for the proposed Maine Virtual Academy until 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3. Written comments 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 six charter schools effectively serving nearly 900 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, Harpswell Coastal Academy and Maine Connections Academy. A third of those students are attending Maine Connections Academy, the state’s first public virtual charter school which opened this fall and is serving students from 86 school districts across Maine.

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

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