Charter School Legislation Creates More Choice for Maine Students

June 16, 2011

For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 16, 2011 Contact: David Connerty-Marin (207) 624-6880 Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

Augusta, Maine – The Maine Legislature cast a vote to create more educational options for students with the passage on Wednesday of LD 1553, which allows for the formation of public charter schools in Maine for the first time.

“This is about giving students choices in their education that will help them succeed,” said Governor Paul LePage, who will sign the bill. “Every student deserves an education that works for him or her and public charter schools, which are approved and working in 40 other states, are one more way we can reach those children. Let’s let parents and students choose the option that works best for them and the students’ learning style.”

Under the new law, a school district, group of school districts, or a new state charter commission can charter a school. Public charter schools have more flexibility than traditional public schools. While they are subject to the same state assessments and federal accountability requirements, charter schools can: implement innovative governance structures, such as teacher-leaders; may be flexible with their learning schedules, offering evening or weekend class time; can orient instruction toward a particular style of learning; and can hire teachers who may have particular experiences but not state certification.

“Our work in Maine is focused on freeing schools up to be transformative,” said Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen. “That means removing barriers so our traditional public schools can innovate, and opening up charter schools to push the educational envelope and engage our students in new ways. This will provide opportunities for students, families, and teachers who are also looking to explore alternate approaches to education.”

Passage of LD 1553 will make federal grants available for charter schools and for the Maine Department of Education. Charter school operators will be accountable to the school district or state charter commission that authorizes them, and the Department.

View the legislation (be sure to view Committee Amendment “A,” which replaced the original).