The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced today that it has scheduled four public hearings in the coming weeks to invite community members to comment on four charter school final applications. The applicants submitted their initial prospectuses in time for last August's deadline, and if approved, the schools would open in fall 2017 or fall 2018.
Each of the charter school founding groups that submitted a final application will undergo a rigorous review process over the next three months before Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester decides which of the proposals, if any, to recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The public hearings are an opportunity for interested people to provide feedback on the proposed schools. At least one member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will attend each hearing and will report back to the full Board on the public testimony provided at each hearing.
In addition to the hearings, members of the public can submit written comments through January 6, 2017 to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Charter School Office, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public hearings will be held from 4:00–6:00 p.m. on the following days at the following locations:
The final application process includes a review of the written final application by a review team, an interview of the applicant group, public hearings in the areas where each school is proposed to be located, and a review of public comments submitted to ESE. Commissioner Chester will then review all of the materials and make his recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which will potentially vote to grant charters in February 2017.
A provision of the 2010 Achievement Gap Act requires that at least two Commonwealth charters be awarded in districts or regions identified as performing in the lowest 10 percent before any additional Commonwealth charters may be awarded. Three of the four applicants propose to serve a district or regions identified as performing in the lowest 10 percent of districts.
The four proposed charter schools that submitted final applications are:
*Would serve a district or region that, based on current analysis, is among the lowest performing 10 percent in the state.
In addition to these four proposals for new schools, ESE is also reviewing 13 expansion requests from existing charter schools. The Board will consider expansions at meetings from November through February.
Commonwealth charter schools are fully autonomous and operate independently of the local school district. Horace Mann charter schools are developed and operated in close cooperation with the host school district and require approval of the local school committee. Charter schools are open to all Massachusetts students, with enrollment preference given to students in the district or region where the school is located.
About the cap on charter schools: In January 2010, the Achievement Gap Act raised the charter school cap in the lowest performing school districts and made a number of changes to the charter authorizing process. Under that law, the cap on district net school spending is rising in incremental steps from 9 percent to a maximum of 18 percent, but the cap lift only applies to districts where academic performance is in the lowest 10 percent of the state. Applicants through the cap lift must have a proven track record of success in increasing academic achievement and must commit to working with a diverse population of students.
There are 78 operating charter schools in Massachusetts serving approximately 40,000 students. For more information, visit charter schools website.
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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