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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Application Resources

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Checklist for Board of Trustees Bylaws
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Checklist for Enrollment Policy and Application for Admission
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Draft Recruitment and Retention Plan for Applicant Use
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Required Elements of Contracts for Educational Services for Applicant Use
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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.)

Contact Us

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

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


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.