Massachusetts Charter Schools

Apply to Open a Charter Public School


Apply to Open a Charter School (New Operators)

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.

Download Word Document
Questions and Answers about Charter Schools in Massachusetts

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 2019-2020 Charter School Application and Review Process Timeline (Standard)

ActionDue Date
Letter of Intent DeadlineMonday, June 3, 2019 by 12:00 noon
Prospectus DeadlineTuesday, July 16, 2019 by 12:00 noon
Proven Provider Request Deadline (as applicable)Tuesday, July 16, 2019 by 12:00 noon
Commissioner Invites Selected Applicant Groups to Submit Final ApplicationSeptember 2019
Proven Provider Determination by Commissioner (as applicable)September 2019
Final Application DeadlineWednesday, October 16, 2019 by 12:00 noon
Public HearingsNovember 2019
Final Applicant InterviewsDecember 2019
Commissioner Decision and Board Vote (if recommended)February 2020

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.

Download Excel Document
District Information on Enrollment Projections for New Applications and Expansion Amendments

Note: The actual number of seats that will be available in any district in any particular year cannot be predicted with certainty and is dependent on several factors, including district enrollment, district spending levels, student enrollment for existing charter schools, and potential changes to the applicable net school spending (NSS) cap for the district of interest. The availability of seats in any district is subject to change.

Download Word Document
Commonwealth and Horace Mann Charter School Application for New Operators
Download Excel Document
Five Year Budget and First Year Cash Flow Projection Template
Download Word Document
Applicant Questionnaire
Download Word Document
Instructions for Individual Candidates seeking Proven Provider
Download Word Document
Instructions for EMO/CMO/SSO seeking Proven Provider

Application Resources

Download Word Document
Checklist for Board of Trustees Bylaws
Download Word Document
Checklist for Enrollment Policy and Application for Admission
Download Word Document
Draft Recruitment and Retention Plan for Applicant Use
Download Word Document
Required Elements of Contracts for Educational Services for Applicant Use
Download Word Document
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; 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 2019-2020 Charter School Application and Review Process Timeline for Current Boards of Trustees

ActionDue Date
Letter of Intent DeadlineMonday June 3, 2019 by 12:00 noon
Proven Provider Request Deadline (as applicable)Tuesday, July 16, 2019 by 12:00 noon
Proven Provider Determination by Commissioner (as applicable)September 2019
Final Application DeadlineWednesday, October 16, 2019 by 12:00 noon
Public HearingsNovember 2019
Final Applicant InterviewsDecember 2019
Commissioner Decision and Board Vote (if recommended)February 2020

Download Excel Document
District Information on Enrollment Projections for New Applications and Expansion Amendments
Download Word Document
Commonwealth and Horace Mann Charter School Application for Current Board of Trustees
Download Excel Document
Five Year Budget and First Year Cash Flow Projection Template
Download Word Document
Instructions for Current Board of Trustees seeking Proven Provider for New Charter

Application Resources

Download Word Document
Checklist for Board of Trustees Bylaws
Download Word Document
Checklist for Enrollment Policy and Application for Admission
Download Word Document
Draft Recruitment and Retention Plan for Applicant Use
Download Word Document
Required Elements of Contracts for Educational Services for Applicant Use
Download Word Document
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 prospectus. 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 final application 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.

Download Word Document
Application Reviewer Volunteer Interest Form

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.

Download Word Document
Opening Procedures Handbook

 
Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370

Directions

Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.