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Public Charter Schools in Maine
Charter schools are public schools of choice students can decide to attend as an alternative to traditional public schools.
Gov. Paul LePage signed L.D. 1553 into law on June 29, 2011, making Maine the 41st state to allow public charter schools.
The law took effect Sept. 28, 2011 as Public Law 2011, Chapter 414. Maine's first charter schools will open, at the earliest, July 1, 2012.
Charter Schools Explained
Charter schools are publicly funded schools governed and operated independently of the traditional public school system.
They have more flexibility than traditional public schools over decisions concerning curriculum and instruction, scheduling, staffing and finance. Charter schools, however, are accountable to the terms of the contracts, or charters, that authorize their existence and the academic standards to which all other public schools are accountable.
Charter schools cannot set admission standards for their students. A charter school in Maine must accept any Maine resident student unless the school or a particular grade level at the school has reached its enrollment capacity.
Creating a Charter School
Each Maine charter school will begin with a request for proposals issued by a charter school authorizer – either the seven-member Charter School Commission formed under Maine’s charter school law, a local school board, or a group of school boards.
Any non-profit, non-religious organization is eligible to respond to such a request with an application that outlines the student population and communities targeted by its proposed school; organizational, governance and financial plans; student and staff policies; and the proposed school’s academic program.
Opening a Charter School
The first Maine charter schools can open, at the earliest, July 1, 2012.
Beforehand, the Maine Department of Education is charged with developing rules concerning the implementation of the charter school law. The State Board of Education is charged with setting up the Charter School Commission, which will comprise three members of the State Board and four others nominated by those Board members.
The law allows the Charter School Commission to authorize a maximum of 10 charter schools during a 10-year transition period. Local school boards can authorize additional charter schools within the boundaries of their school administrative units. Those charter schools authorized do not count toward the 10-school limit of the Charter School Commission.
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