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Massachusetts Charter Schools

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Contact:Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115

Public Hearings Scheduled on Final Applications for Two Charter Schools


The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced today that it has scheduled two public hearings in the coming weeks to invite community members to comment on two charter school final applications. If approved, the schools could open as soon as fall 2018.

Both of the charter school founding groups that submitted a final application will undergo a rigorous review process over the next three months before Acting Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Wulfson 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 will attend each hearing and will report back to the full Board on the public testimony provided.

In addition to the hearings, members of the public can submit written comments about the proposed schools through January 2, 2018 to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148 or by email to

Public hearings will be held from 4:00–6:00 p.m. in the following locations:

LawrenceTuesday, December 5, 2017
Lawrence Public Library (Main Library)
Sargent Auditorium
51 Lawrence St.
LynnThursday, December 7, 2017
Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development
Lynn Community Room
10 Church St.

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 proposes to locate, and a review of public comments submitted to ESE. Commissioner Wulfson 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 2018.

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. Both applicants are proposing Commonwealth charters to serve a district or region identified as performing in the lowest 10 percent of districts. The two proposed charter schools that submitted final applications are:

Proposed Commonwealth Charter SchoolDistrict or Region (*Bold is proposed location)GradesProposed Maximum EnrollmentProposed Opening YearApplicationBudget
Equity Lab Charter SchoolLynn*5–126402018  
Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, LawrenceLawrence*, Haverhill, Methuen9–122502018  

In addition to the proposals for new schools, ESE is also reviewing 4 expansion requests from existing charter schools. The Board will consider expansions at meetings from December through February.

Commonwealth charter schools are fully autonomous and operate independently of the local school district. 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 majority of districts are capped at 9 percent, while there is an 18 percent cap in 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 80 operating charter schools in Massachusetts serving approximately 40,000 students. For more information, visit the charter schools section of the ESE website.

Last Updated: November 14, 2017

Contact Us

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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