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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Applications for New Charter Schools

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
January 15, 2016

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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 10 Commonwealth charter school prospectuses in August 2015. In November 2015, the Department received final applications to establish five charter schools. Two of the seven applicant groups initially invited to submit final applications decided not to pursue a charter. Additionally, the applicant group for the proposed Central Square Public Charter School decided to withdraw its final application and is no longer under consideration.

This memorandum provides a preview of the charter applications currently under Department review and the Department's review process. The four proposed schools are listed in the table below. 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 ServedProposed Opening DateGrade SpanMax Enrollment
International Academy of Montachusett Charter SchoolFitchburg, Leominster, Clinton, North Middlesex Regional, Wachusett Regional2016K-121,168
Libertas Academy Charter School*Springfield20176-12630
New Heights Charter School of Brockton*Brockton, Taunton, Randolph20166-12735
Old Sturbridge Academy Charter Public SchoolBrimfield, Brookfield, Dudley-Charlton, Holland, Monson, Sturbridge, Palmer, Wales, Warren, Webster, West Brookfield, Tantasqua, Quaboag, Spencer-East Brookfield, Southbridge2016K-8360

*Two of the four proposed charter schools would serve districts or regions that, based on current analysis, are among the lowest performing 10 percent in the state.

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 following components:

  • Public comment. During the current application process, public hearings were held in November and December in Brockton, Fitchburg, Springfield, and Sturbridge. 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 digital recordings of each of the five public hearings conducted this year and copies of all written comments submitted on or before Wednesday, January 6th. 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 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 conducts an interview with each applicant group, including the proposed board of trustees; proposed school employees, if identified; and representatives of anticipated partners to be involved in the operation of the proposed school.

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 Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner, at 781-338-3222; Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner, at 781-338-6500; or me.

Attachments:

Description of the Charter Application Review Process
Criteria for Review of Charter Applications
Executive Summaries of Final Applications


Last Updated: January 25, 2016
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