July 31, 2013

New Maine charter school forms have 'substantive' changes

The lengthy application to open a charter school are due Dec. 2.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The next round of applications to open a charter school in Maine will be due Dec. 2.

The Charter School Commission voted Tuesday to approve the deadline, the final language for applications for both regular charter schools and virtual charter schools, and a new scoring system for evaluating applications.

The legal notice requesting applications will be published in the Kennebec Journal 60 days prior to the Dec. 2 deadline, but the commission staff intends to post the application forms on the commission's website before then to allow applicants as much time as possible to complete the documents, which are each almost 40 pages long.

"They need it because there is some substantive changes in here," said the commission's executive director, Bob Kautz. "I think they're going to need the time."

Five charter schools have already been approved -- three of which will open this fall -- under the state's 10-school limit. No virtual charter schools have been approved.

The applications have changed in the last year, with additional requirements in some areas, such as demonstrating that applicants have already held meetings in the targeted community. There is also now a separate application for virtual schools that spells out specific requirements, such as weekly face-to-face time for students and instructors, and a school board that is clearly independent of the school's education service provider, which in most cases is a large national company.

Other changes in the applications are in the areas of finance, professional development, parent involvement and special education. The commission plans to release an executive summary that highlights the changes. The new scoring system spells out each key requirement, and is 36 pages long.

The commission also approved a new $55 per diem policy for its members, in line with other state commissions. Commission members were previously unpaid.

 

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

 

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