|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, October 20, 1998|
35 Apply to Open New Charter Schools
Malden - Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll announced today that 35 applications have been received for new charter schools across the state.
Thirty-one applicants are vying for five available Commonwealth charters, and four others have submitted applications for eight available Horace Mann charters. Only those applications meeting qualifications set by the Commissioner and Board of Education and approved by the Board of Education in February will be given charters.
Commissioner Driscoll said, "We are pleased to receive such a high number of applications for new Commonwealth charters. This is proof that there is still great interest in creating these innovative public schools. As the new Horace Mann charter school option gains more attention, we hope there will be continuing and growing interest in them as well."
The Department of Education received requests for charters to establish 14 new elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 14 high schools and 4 kindergarten-12 schools. Twenty-five applications were received to open charter schools in urban communities, including 14 in Boston, 1 in Cambridge, 1 in Lawrence, 2 in Lowell, 1 in Malden, 2 in Quincy, 3 in Springfield, and 1 in Fitchburg. Additionally, 7 applications came from suburbs and 3 from rural areas. October 16th was the application deadline.
The Education Reform Act provides for the creation of 50 charter schools -- public schools operated by groups of parents and others who want to provide different public school options for children. These charter schools are operated under a 5-year charter and are open to all students on a space-available basis. There are currently 34 charter schools - 30 Commonwealth and 4 Horace Mann - enrolling more than 10,000 students across the state with three more schools scheduled to open next fall. Horace Mann charter applications must have the approval of the local teachers union and school committee.
Charter schools are subject to most of the same regulations and requirements as district schools, including participation in the new statewide test, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) at grades 4, 8, and 10.
The process to approve the new charters includes a review and evaluation of all applications. Applicants with proposals meeting the criteria outlined in the charter school regulations will be notified by the close of business Friday, November 13th. Final applications are due December 11th, and the Board of Education will award up to 13 new charters in February 1999.