What is a charter school? Charter schools are public schools of choice. Students can decide to attend a charter school as an alternative to the district public school to which they have been assigned. The first enactment of charter school enabling legislation was in Minnesota in 1991. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 44 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam have charter laws; 3.2 million students are enrolled in 7,000 charter schools nationwide; and there are 219,000 teachers teaching in charter schools. The first charter schools opened in Maine in 2012. A ten-school limit was placed on the number of schools the Commission is able to authorize. There are approximately 2,700 students attending charter schools in Maine. Maine charter schools are publicly funded schools, created and governed by volunteers in a nonprofit organization, and operated independently of the traditional public school system. Charter schools have some flexibility that traditional public schools may not have over decisions concerning curriculum and instruction, scheduling, staffing and finance. In return for this flexibility, charter schools re held accountable to the terms of contracts (their charters) that authorize their existence. In addition, they must adhere to all applicable federal laws, health and safety laws, and the same academic standards to which all public schools are accountable. The Maine Charter School Commission authorizes and oversees Charter Schools in Maine.
There are currently nine (9) public charter schools operating in Maine. With a limit of ten (10) in the state, there is one opening for a new school. The Maine Charter School Commission (MCSC) will launch the request for proposals for a new public charter school on July 1, 2024. All proposals will be due by February 15, 2025. The MCSC will prioritize schools that plan to open for the 2026-2027 school year.
For a general understanding of the required information, please review the DRAFT New School Application and required attachments below:
- DRAFT New School Application
- Educational Program Terms and Examples
- RFP Timeline
Prior to the launch, Commission staff are eager to talk to prospective applicants and will host a series of informal Information Sessions beginning on Tuesday, March 5th at 1:00pm via Zoom. The sessions will be held on the first Tuesday of each month through July 2nd and are an opportunity to learn more about public charter schools in Maine and to ask questions about the new school application process itself. Here is the link to join:
If you know of anyone interested in operating a public charter school in Maine, please pass this information along and feel free to share within your networks. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like any additional information.