|For Immediate Release|
|Wednesday, November 19, 1997|
Sixty-One Apply to Open New Charter Schools
Malden - Massachusetts Education Commissioner Robert V. Antonucci announced today that a total of sixty-one applications have been received for new charter schools across the state.
Forty-eight applicants are vying for twelve available Commonwealth Charter Schools charters, and thirteen others have submitted applications for thirteen 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 Antonucci said, "We are pleased to receive such a high number of applications for new Commonwealth charters. This is proof that there is great interest in creating these innovative public schools. The Horace Mann Schools were created by statute just this past summer. This is the first time that these charters have been made available. As this new charter school option gains more attention, we know there will be continuing and growing interest in them."
The Department of Education received requests for charters to establish 20 new elementary schools, 15 middle schools, 22 high schools and 3 kindergarten-12 schools. Thirty applications were received to open charter schools in urban communities, including 13 in Boston, 4 in Lawrence and 4 in Springfield, and 2 each in Fitchburg and Worcester. Additionally, 19 applications came from the suburbs and 11 in rural areas, including 3 from Barnstable and 2 each from Foxboro and Mashpee. November 14th was the application deadline.
The historic 1993 Education Reform Act provided for the creation of 25 charter schools -- public schools operated by groups of parents and others who want to provide different public school options for children. These "Commonwealth" charter schools are operated under a 5-year charter and are open to all students on a space-available basis. There are currently 24 of the Commonwealth charter schools in operation.
The proposed Horace Mann Schools have the approval of the local school committee and the local teachers' union. There are no Horace Mann schools operating presently.
Charter schools must follow the statewide curriculum frameworks and their students must participate in the new, annual statewide test, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) at grades 4, 8, and 10, just as do all other public school students.
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 Tuesday, December 2nd. After final applications have been reviewed, the Board of Education in February 1998 will award up to 25 new charters.