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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Applications for New Charter Schools

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:
January 13, 2012

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By statute, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) votes on the approval on new charter schools at its February meeting. After the January 2010 amendments to the charter school statute (G.L. c.71, § 89) a number of changes to the application process were made. These changes were reflected in the amendments to the charter school regulations (603 CMR 1.00) that the Board adopted in May 2010. As you may remember, these changes include:

  • allowing existing charter school boards of trustees to apply for additional charters;
  • creating two additional types of Horace Mann charter schools;
  • lifting the 9 percent net school spending cap in districts whose academic performance is in the lowest 10 percent, as measured by MCAS results for two consecutive years;
  • allowing approval of an application for a Commonwealth charter school in districts subject to the higher net school spending cap only if the applicant has a demonstrated record of prior successful performance;
  • giving preference to applicants in districts subject to the higher net school spending cap who propose networks serving more than one municipality; and
  • allowing the Board to provisionally award seats that may become available in future years.

The Department received 7 prospectuses in August 2011 - two for Horace Mann charter schools and five for Commonwealth charter schools. Based upon the review of these prospectuses by the Department's staff and external reviewers, I invited the founding groups for all seven of the applications to submit final applications. One applicant group withdrew from the process. Six final applications were filed by the November 7, 2011, deadline. The six proposed schools are as follows:

Proposed School NameDistricts to be ServedProposed Grade SpanProposed Max Enrollment
Baystate Academy Charter School Springfield 6-12560
Lowell Collegiate Charter SchoolLowellK-121,200
Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School (Horace Mann)BostonK1-5325
Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School Holyoke, West Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, South Hadley, and Northampton9-12500
Springfield Preparatory Charter School Springfield 5-121,070
Somerville Progressive Charter School SomervilleK-8425+

Executive summaries for each of these final applications, as prepared by the applicant groups, are attached for your review.

Attached you will also find a detailed description of the charter school final application review process and criteria. Briefly, the charter school final application review process includes the following components:

  • Public comment. During the current application process, public hearings were held in Boston, Holyoke, Lowell, Somerville, and Springfield in late November and early December, with at least two Board members in attendance at every hearing. Superintendents and school committees in the districts to be served by the proposed schools and all contiguous districts were also invited to submit written comments. Written comments are also accepted from members of the public. Prior to the February meeting, you will receive a CD containing recordings of the eight public hearings and copies of all of the written comments.
  • Review panels. Review panels, which include both internal and external reviewers, discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the final applications and identified areas where clarification from the applicant was needed. This process helped to generate questions for the interview phase.
  • Interviews. During January, the charter school office conducts a final interview with each applicant group.

I will forward to the Board, prior to the February 28th meeting, my recommendations on which applications should be approved. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the applications or the review process, please contact Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner, at 781-338-6500; Marlon Davis, Director of Charter Schools, Innovation, and Redesign at 781-338-3222; or me.

Enclosures:

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Executive Summaries of Final Applications
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Description of the Charter Application Review Process and Criteria for Review


Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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