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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 13, 2017

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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 five Commonwealth charter school prospectuses in August 2016. The Department also received one letter of intent from the board of trustees of an existing Commonwealth charter school seeking to open a second Commonwealth charter school and to establish a network of charter schools.1 In November 2016, the Department received final applications to establish four charter schools, including an application to replicate an existing school from the board of trustees of the Hampden Charter School of Science.

This memorandum provides a preview of the charter applications currently under review and the Department's review process. The four 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
Hampden Charter School of Science - WestWestfield, Holyoke, Agawam, West Springfield6-125882018
Map Academy Charter SchoolPlymouth, Carver, Wareham9-123002017
Old Sturbridge Academy Charter Public SchoolSturbridge, Brimfield, Brookfield, Holland, Monson, North Brookfield, Palmer, Southbridge, Spencer-East Brookfield, Wales, WebsterK-83602017

The charter school statute, G.L. c. 71, § 89(i)(2), requires the Board to award at least two Commonwealth charters to schools that will serve a district or composite region identified as performing in the lowest 10 percent before the Board awards any additional Commonwealth charters. Three of the four 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. While the proposed Map Academy Charter School would have a charter region that includes a district performing in the lowest 10 percent, the composite region would not be in the lowest 10 percent.

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 November and December in Lynn, Plymouth, Sturbridge, and Westfield. 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 four public hearings conducted this year and copies of all written comments submitted on or before Friday, 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 conducted interviews with every 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. The Department prepares summaries of all applicant interviews which are shared with 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.

Attachments:

Download Word Document
Description of the Charter Application Review Process

 
Criteria for Review of Charter Applications (New Operator and Current Board of Trustees versions)
Download Word Document
Commonwealth Charter Final Application Criteria for Proposed Charter Operators
Download Word Document
Commonwealth Charter Final Application Criteria for Current Charter School Boards of Trustees

 
Executive Summaries of Final Applications
Download Word Document
Proposed Equity Lab Charter School Executive Summary
Download Word Document
Proposed Hampden Charter School of Science West Executive Summary
Download Word Document
Proposed Map Academy Charter School Executive Summary
Download Word Document
Proposed Old Sturbridge Academy Charter Public School Executive Summary


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Last Updated: January 19, 2017
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