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Five public charter schools set to open for 2013 school year

September 10, 2013
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Maine Charter Schools Maine Charter Schools

AUGUSTA Nearly 400 Maine students are ready to start the school year in an environment that is still relatively new for the state of Maine: a public charter school. Maine's five public charter schools will welcome students for the first day of school over the next eight days, welcoming students from pre-K through high school seniors.

Public charter schools are tuition-free and open to any student living in the state of Maine. If more applications are received than slots available for students, a random lottery is held to determine student enrollment at each school. Public charter schools offer innovative programs and provide an alternative for students who find that traditional public school programs are unable to meet their needs.

'Maine was the 40th state in the nation to approve public charter schools, putting our state a bit behind the curve,' said Roger Brainerd of the Maine Association for Charter Schools. 'But with a nationally top-ranked enabling law and authorizing process, a full year of experience behind us and three new schools opening this week, Maine students now have more opportunities to succeed than ever before. And ultimately, that is our greatest responsibility as parents and adults to ensure that each child has every chance to succeed.'

The public charter schools opening this week are located in Portland, Hinckley, Cornville, Harpswell and Gray. Between the five schools, 392 students will be attending public charter schools in Maine to begin the 2013-2014 school year. Like traditional public schools, teachers, administration and support staff have all been hired to ensure the schools run smoothly.

Maine's five public charter schools ready to open over the next two weeks include the following:

Cornville Regional Charter School, Cornville

Opening Tuesday, Sept. 3

90 students enrolled in grades K-7

28 new students enrolled by lottery for 2013-2014 school year

Opened for the first time for the 2012-2013 school year

Harpswell Coastal Academy, Harpswell

Opening Tuesday, Sept. 3

60 total students enrolled: 30 in 6th grade; 30 in 9th grade

Opening for the first time this year

Fiddlehead School of Arts & Sciences, Gray

Opening Tuesday, Sept. 3

42 total students in grades Pre-K 2nd grade

Lottery was held received a total of 103 applications

Opening for the first time this year

Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, Portland

Opening Wednesday, Sept. 4

135 students enrolled in grades 9-10

Opening for the first time this year

Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (MeANS), Hinckley

Opening Tuesday, Sept. 10

65 students enrolled in grades 9-12

Opened for the first time for the 2012-2013 school year

In 2011, the Maine Legislature passed bi-partisan legislation to allow voluntary groups and superintendents to develop new public chartered programs.  The state Charter School commission was set up to authorize a modest 10-year, 10-school public charter school pilot program. The rationale behind the pilot program was to give the law a chance to work using a limited number of schools, allowing time to develop a track record from which changes could be made if necessary. 

Public charter schools in Maine operate on a five-year contract, with the authorizer responsible for approving proposals, monitoring the schools, holding them accountable for academic success and financial integrity and following a rigorous renewal process.

As of December 2012, there are approximately 6000 public charter schools enrolling an estimated 2.2 million students nationwide, and more than 900,000 students remain on wait lists to attend a public charter school. Over 400 new public charter schools opened their doors in the 2012-13 school year, enrolling an estimated new 250,000 students.

'While public charter schools are new to Maine, it's not a new idea around the country,' said Brainerd. 'We continue to see success stories from the east coast to the west coast, and we are proud that Maine can now contribute to the stories of our students' success through public charter schools.'

To learn more about public charter schools in Maine, visit www.mainecharterschools.org.

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