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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 an initial application 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.

Initial applications 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 2020-2021 Charter School Application and Review Process Timeline (Standard)

ActionDue Date
Letter of Intent DeadlineWednesday, July 1, 2020 by 12:00 noon
Initial Application DeadlineThursday, July 30, 2020 by 12:00 noon
Proven Provider Request Deadline (as applicable)Thursday, July 30, 2020 by 12:00 noon
Commissioner Invites Selected Applicant Groups to Submit Final ApplicationSeptember 2020
Proven Provider Determination by Commissioner (as applicable)September 2020
Final Application DeadlineFriday, October 23, 2020 by 12:00 noon
Public HearingsNovember 2020
Final Applicant InterviewsDecember 2020
Commissioner Decision and Board Vote (if recommended)February 2021

Horace Mann II applicants are encouraged to adhere to the standard schedule but may submit an initial application at any time. Applicants for Horace Mann II charter schools that choose not to follow 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 initial application and final application, a minimum of four months.

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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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these estimates may change significantly

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Enrollment Projections by District for New Applications and Expansion Amendments
These projections are made available to assist applicants in planning for the submission of a charter application or charter expansion but do not guarantee the number of seats available for award in any district in FY2021. The actual number of seats that may be available for award 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 changes in the net school spending (NSS) caps of individual districts. The availability of seats in any district is subject to change and, in this year, we anticipate those changes may be significant. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants should expect significant variation in the number of projected seats available for award once state and local budgets are finalized, which may not be until well into FY2021. The Department will discuss adjustments to projections with applicant groups when updated FY2021 net school spending is available.

Last Updated: May 20, 2020

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.