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Massachusetts Charter Schools

2013-2014 Charter Application Process

To:Potential Charter Applicants
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:May 13, 2013

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The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (the Board) and I fully support the continued establishment of high quality charter school options by individuals and groups with a commitment to excellence and innovation in public education. Our mission is to strengthen the Commonwealth's public education system so that every student is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, compete in the global economy, and understand the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, and in so doing, to close all proficiency gaps. In order to realize our mission for every student's success, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (the Department) is committed to identifying through the charter application process quality programming proposed by both proven providers and groups who have yet to establish a track record of success.

For the upcoming 2013-14 charter application cycle, the Department will accept applications for new Commonwealth charters in the majority of districts. Applicants are advised that the Board will grant no more than 95 percent of the available seats in any district as reflected in this year's calculations. The remaining 5 percent will be reserved to accommodate future fluctuations in the net school spending (NSS) caps. Please note that several districts may not have sufficient seats available to support a viable school. In particular, in the case of Boston and Holyoke, approximately 95 percent of the available seats have been granted and applications cannot be considered.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to propose schools in cities that are currently underserved by high quality charter schools and where seats are available under the current NSS caps. In a number of cities and towns, the availability of seats remains limited. The number of available seats published in this year's application is estimated and should be used as a guideline. 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, and admissions decisions for existing charter schools. The final decision on the availability of seats will be made by the Board, based on periodically updated estimates from the Department's school finance office. ?

The charter school statute encourages charter schools to better serve under-represented populations, including English language learners, and students receiving special education services. In the interest of providing additional guidance for applicants to better address their own capacity in these areas, the Department has reviewed guidance from the National Charter School Resource Center (Resource Center), Authorizer SPED Rubric for Local Education Agencies, regarding the assessment of applicant capacity to provide a high quality special education program. While the Department's existing charter application criteria substantially addresses the Resource Center's recommendations, the Resource Center's guidance helped to inform how to better clarify our expectations to applicants. We hope that the revision of the Special Student Populations and Student Services application criteria will assist groups in communicating their knowledge and expertise in serving special student populations and their capacity to address the particular needs of all students.

The Application for a Massachusetts Public Charter School contains a wealth of information regarding the charter application process and application requirements. Contact the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign at charterschools@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3227 with any questions or feedback.



Last Updated: May 24, 2013
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