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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Applications for New Charter Schools

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeff Wulfson, Acting Commissioner
January 12, 2018

By statute, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) grants charters for new charter schools at its meeting in February. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) received three Commonwealth charter school prospectuses in August 2017. The Department also received one letter of intent from the board of trustees of a network of existing Commonwealth charter schools seeking to open a third Commonwealth charter school.1 In November 2017, the Department received final applications to establish two charter schools, including an application to replicate an existing school from the board of trustees of the two current Phoenix Academy Charter Public High Schools.

This memorandum provides a preview of the charter applications currently under review and the Department's review process. The two proposed schools are listed in the table that follows. Executive summaries for each of these final applications, as prepared by the applicant groups, are attached for your review.

Proposed Charter School NameDistricts to be ServedGrade SpanMax EnrollmentProposed Opening Date
Equity Lab Charter SchoolLynn5-126402018
Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, LawrenceLawrence, Haverhill, Methuen9-122502018

Both proposed charter schools would serve districts or regions that, based on current analysis, are among school districts performing in the lowest 10 percent of all districts on statewide assessments.

Also attached is a detailed description of the review process and the criteria for charter school applications. Briefly, the charter school final application review process includes the components that follow.

  • Public comment. During the current application process, the Board held public hearings in December in Lawrence and Lynn. At least one Board member attended each hearing. Superintendents and school committees in the districts to be served by the proposed schools were invited to submit written comments. Written comments were also accepted from members of the public. Prior to the February meeting, you will receive access to recordings of each of the two public hearings conducted this year and copies of all written comments that the Department has received. In addition, the Chair will ask those Board members who attended the hearings to make brief oral reports to the full Board at the February meeting for those schools the Acting Commissioner recommends to receive a charter.
  • Review panels. In December, review panels of internal and external reviewers met to discuss each applicant group's response to the application criteria and to identify areas of the application where clarification from applicants is needed.
  • Interviews. During January, the Department conducted interviews with every applicant group, including the board of trustees; school employees, if identified; and representatives of anticipated partners to be involved in the operation of the proposed school. The Department prepares summaries of all applicant interviews which will be sent to the Board if the applicant group is recommended for charter award.

I will forward to the Board, prior to its February meeting, my recommendations for the award of new charters. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the pending applications for charter schools or the review process, please contact Alison Bagg, Director, at 781-338-3218; Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner, at 781-338-3222; or me.



Download Word Document
Description of the Charter Application Review Process
Download Word Document
Criteria for Review of Charter Applications (New Operator and Current Board of Trustees versions)
Executive Summaries of Final Applications
Download Word Document
Proposed Equity Lab Charter School Executive Summary
Download Word Document
Proposed Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, Lawrence Executive Summary



Last Updated: January 19, 2018
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