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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Charter Developer Information

Information Sessions

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Questions and Answers about Charter Schools in Massachusetts - Updated May 2016

Are you interested in establishing a new charter school?

Join the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for an information session on how to apply for a Massachusetts public school charter. All sessions are held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A link to register is available below. Include in your registration details about your interest in attending the information session and any specific questions that you may already have about the charter application process.

*These sessions are not intended for parents interested in enrolling children in a charter school. For enrollment inquires, contact 781-338-3227 or email charterschools@doe.mass.edu.

DateLocation
May 18, 2016:Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148

Register for an Information Session.

The schedule for future information sessions will be available in September 2016.

Apply to Open a Charter School (Standard)

Charter schools are public schools that are given the freedom to organize their activities around a core mission, curriculum, or teaching method and set their own budgets as well as manage their own staff. In return for this freedom, a charter school must demonstrate positive results within five years or lose its charter.

The Application for a Massachusetts Charter Public School: Proposed Commonwealth or Horace Mann Charter Schools is for use only by applicant groups who wish to form a charter school board of trustees and do not govern a current Massachusetts charter school. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) conducts a process that includes a prospectus and a final application phase, participation by internal and external reviewers for both phases, opportunities for written public comment and public hearings during the final application phase, as well as an interview with all final applicants.

Prospectuses and final applications are each reviewed against extensive criteria set forth in the charter statute, G.L. c. 71, § 89, and the charter school regulations, 603 CMR 1.04 and as further elaborated in the Application for a Massachusetts Charter Public School.

The objective of the charter application review process is to award charters to applicants who show the greatest probability of creating public schools of the highest quality.

Schedule for 2016-2017 Charter School Application and Review Process Timeline (Standard)

ActionDue Date
Letter of Intent DeadlineWednesday, June 15, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.
Prospectus Deadline*Monday, August 1, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.
Proven Provider Request Deadline (as applicable)Monday, August 1, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.
Commissioner Invites Selected Applicant groups to Submit Final ApplicationSeptember 2016
Proven Provider Determination by Commissioner (as applicable)September 2016
Final Application Deadline*Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.

* All Horace Mann charter applicants will be permitted to submit their signed Certification Statement up to 6 weeks after the prospectus deadline to accommodate school committee meeting schedules. For Horace Mann I and III applicants, the deadline for signed Certification Statements is Monday, September 12, 2016 by 5:00 p.m. All other prospectus requirements for Horace Mann I and III applicants must be completed on or before the prospectus deadline of August 1 by 5:00 p.m.

Horace Mann II applicants are encouraged to adhere to the standard schedule, but may submit a prospectus at any time. Applicants for Horace Mann II charter schools that choose not to adhere to the standard schedule are subject to the same review process as all other Horace Mann and Commonwealth applicants with the same approximate length of time for review of the prospectus and final application, a minimum of four months.

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Memorandum regarding the 2016-2017 Charter Application Process
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District Information on Enrollment Projections for New Applications and Expansion Amendments
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Commonwealth and Horace Mann Charter School Application for New Operators 2016-2017
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Five Year Budget and First Year Cash Flow Projection Template 2016-2017 (For use at Prospectus and Final Application Stage; five year budget submission is required at the prospectus stage, not the first year cash flow projection.)
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Applicant Questionnaire 2016-2017
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Instructions for Individual Candidates seeking Proven Provider 2016-2017
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Instructions for EMO/CMO/SSO seeking Proven Provider 2016-2017

Application Resources

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Required Elements for English Language Education Policies and Procedures
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Required Elements for Special Education Policies and Procedures
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Checklist for Board of Trustees Bylaws 2016
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Checklist for Enrollment Policy and Application for Admission 2016
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Draft Recruitment and Retention Plan for Applicant Use 2016
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Required Elements of Contracts for Educational Services for Applicant Use 2016
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Required and Recommended Elements of a Memorandum of Understanding (Horace Mann) (Final draft of the Memorandum of Understanding must be submitted at the final application stage.)

Apply to Open a Charter Public School (Current Board of Trustees)

The Application for a Massachusetts Commonwealth and Horace Mann Public Charter School for Current Boards of Trustees is for use only by current boards of trustees applying for additional charter(s). Current boards of trustees are exempt from submitting a prospectus but must still meet proven provider requirements, if applicable.

Boards of trustees must submit a complete final application for each proposed school in the network which addresses the criteria that is set forth in the charter statute, G.L. c. 71, § 89, and the charter school regulations, 603 CMR 1.04(3) and further elaborated in the Application for a Massachusetts Charter Public School for Current Boards of Trustees.

Boards of trustees that currently hold the charter(s) of school(s) that have undergone one successful renewal; are not presently under conditions or probation; are identified as Level 1 or Level 2, with school percentiles of 45 percent or higher under the Commonwealth's accountability system; and are identified as in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations are eligible to participate in the one stage cycle. Charter schools that do not meet all of these parameters may consult with the Department regarding their unique circumstances and eligibility. The final application review process for current boards of trustees is virtually identical to other categories of applicants.

Schedule for 2016-2017 Charter School Application and Review Process Timeline for Current Boards of Trustees

ActionDue Date
Letter of Intent DeadlineMonday, August 1, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.
Proven Provider Request Deadline (as applicable)Monday, August 1, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.
Proven Provider Determination by Commissioner (as applicable)September 2016
Final Application DeadlineTuesday, November 1, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.

View HTML Page
Memorandum regarding the 2016-2017 Charter Application Process
Download PDF Document  Download MS EXCEL Document
District Information on Enrollment Projections for New Applications and Expansion Amendments
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Commonwealth and Horace Mann Charter School Application for Current Board of Trustees 2016-2017
Download MS EXCEL Document
Five Year Budget and First Year Cash Flow Projection Template 2016-2017 (For use at Prospectus and Final Application Stage; both the five year budget and first year cash flow projection is required at the final application stage.)
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Instructions for Current Board of Trustees seeking Proven Provider for New Charter 2016-2017

Application Resources

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Required Elements for English Language Education Policies and Procedures
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Required Elements for Special Education Policies and Procedures
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Checklist for Board of Trustees Bylaws 2016
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Checklist for Enrollment Policy and Application for Admission 2016
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Draft Recruitment and Retention Plan for Applicant Use 2016
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Required Elements of Contracts for Educational Services for Applicant Use 2016
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Required and Recommended Elements of a Memorandum of Understanding (Horace Mann)

Request for Qualified Reviewers to Participate in Charter Application Review Process

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) reaches out to highly qualified individuals in many different fields to join us in reviewing charter applications. Below is a brief synopsis to familiarize you with the application process as well as a volunteer form for you to complete and submit (along with a resume and/or biography) if you are interested in participating.

Why Serve on an Application Review?

Charter schools are at the cutting edge of education reform both in Massachusetts and nationally. Serving on a charter school application review is a unique opportunity to learn more about these public schools and to contribute to this important reform initiative. Your expertise will help make the charter school review process as robust and fair as possible and therefore more valuable to the schools and to the public.

Who Are We Looking For?

We seek volunteers with expertise in educational leadership, teaching, curriculum development, K-12 research, special education, English language development education, program evaluation, and non-profit governance. Administrators and teachers (from both charter and district schools), business people, educational researchers, and many others have served as excellent application reviewers in past. If you think your experience and professional expertise might be valuable in our review of charter schools, please contact us by completing and submitting the volunteer interest form below.

What Happens during the Charter Application Review Process?

The charter application review process has two phases - prospectus review and final application review. During the prospectus review stage, reviewers will be asked to read and comment on one or two 40-page prospectuses. Copies of prospectuses are distributed after submission on August 1, and reviewers use an online survey tool to record identified evidence based on specific criteria. Volunteers are required to submit their review on or before August 31. The Department will use the feedback from charter application reviewers to assist the Commissioner in determining which applicant groups will be invited to submit final charter applications in early November.

Volunteers who review final applications will be asked to read and comment on one or two final applications in November and December, as well as convene in early December at the Department in Malden to discuss the evidence provided within each application based on specific criteria. The questions raised by review panel participants serve as the basis of the applicant group interviews in early January. Application reviewers play an essential advisory role in the formulation of the Department's recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the charter authorizer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Application Reviewer Volunteer Interest Form
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Application Reviewer Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form (required if invited to review)

Opening Procedures Handbook
A Guide for Boards of Trustees and Leaders of New Charter Schools

The Opening Procedures Handbook serves as the primary tool for boards of trustees and leaders of new charter schools as they progress through the Opening Procedures process. Successful completion of the Opening Procedures process, which is based on Massachusetts charter school law and regulations, as well as the laws applying to all public schools, provides new charter schools with an opportunity to demonstrate to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the public-at-large that it is fully prepared to open and serve public school students. The Handbook offers a strategy, timeline, and resources to support boards of trustees and school leaders to accomplish this goal.

Opening Procedures Handbook


Last Updated: May 10, 2016
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