Charter schools are always public schools. They never charge tuition and they accept any student who wants to attend. Charter laws require that students be admitted by a random lottery drawing in cases where too many students want to enroll in a single charter school. Charter schools must also meet the state and federal academic requirements that apply to all public schools.—http://www.publiccharters.org
Gov. Paul LePage signed L.D. 1553 into law on June 29, 2011, making Maine the 41st state to allow public charter schools. The Maine Charter School Commission is one of two types of entities permitted to authorize public charter schools in Maine. The Commission can authorize up to 10 public charter schools throughout the state during the first 10 years of Maine’s charter school law.
Pursuant to the Maine Charter School Commission’s guidelines, The Charter School Commission voted unanimously on February 5, 2013 to approve HCA’s application for charter.
Grades 6-12. When the school opens in September 2013, it will have 30 6th graders and 30 9th graders.
We believe the ideal size for HCA is 280 students. Public charter schools often phase in enrollment. HCA intends to enroll 30 students in grade 6 and 30 students in grade 9 for the 2013-14 academic year.
HCA is a public school open to ANY student residing in the state of Maine. There are no admissions requirements, but we do have limited space-30 6th graders and 30 9th graders for the 2013-14 academic year. Parents must complete and submit the online Declaration Of Intent to Enroll form or complete the print version available at the prospective parent and student Information Sessions. All letters of intent must be submitted by 5:00 pm THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2013.
If there are more students seeking admission than available slots, a lottery drawing for 30 6th graders and 30 9th graders will be conducted at 3:00 p.m. on FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2013. Students who are drawn above number 30 for each class will be entered on a waiting list in the order they are drawn. If a student from among the first 30 drawn chooses not to enroll, that spot will be offered to the lowest-numbered remaining student from the waiting list.
HCA’s curriculum is college-preparatory and meets the same “Common Core” standards in Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Health and Physical Education and Fine Arts as do all Maine public middle and high schools. For further details, please review HCA’s Educational Plan in this packet and on http://www.harpswellcoastalacademy.org.
Several sites have been identified and the site committee is working closely with the Town of Harpswell and community leaders and business owners to select a site that makes the most sense for the students and teachers. Charter schools almost always open in temporary space and then move to a larger, more permanent site as they grow. With a first year class of 60 students, our space needs will be relatively simple. We will update the website with a specific location as soon as a lease is signed.
All staff members working in Maine’s public charter schools must be fingerprinted through the Maine State Police and undergo criminal background checks. A full-time teacher in a public charter school must meet at least one of the following:
- Hold a teaching certificate that corresponds with the appropriate grade level and subject area taught.
- Become certified to teach in Maine with three years of the date of hire.
- Have an advanced degree, professional certification or unique expertise or experience in the curricular area in which he or she teaches.
Public charter school administrators do not have to be certified.
Maine Public Charter schools are open to any student in the state although transportation to the school is limited by a “catchment area” defined in the charter law. It is likely that HCA students will come from Harpswell, Brunswick, Bowdoinham, Topsham, Freeport and Bath.
While there are many differences, perhaps three are most important: Relationships, Autonomy, and Accountability.
Relationships: Charter schools are smaller and community-based. Small schools are much more likely to foster strong relationships between the adults in the school and the students and between the school and larger community.
Autonomy: Public charter schools have the autonomy to innovate in important ways such as:
- Curriculum design (e.g., Montessori, Core Knowledge, Expeditionary Learning, Proficiency-based Assessment, STEM focus, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics)
- Extended learning time (longer school day and/or year)
- School cultures with high expectations for all students and adults
- More structured and disciplined learning environments
- Integrating the work of the school with the business community and partner organizations
- Parent engagement structures that help parents support their children
- Multi-age programs
Accountability: Educators and policy makers who believed that public schools should be held more accountable for student achievement formed the original charter schools. In exchange for accountability, school leaders should be given freedom to do whatever it takes to help students achieve. That idea is the core of the charter school model.
In Maine, a “public charter school is accountable to the terms of the contract, or charter, it negotiates with its authorizer. The charter school operator must adhere to the performance expectations and responsibilities outlined in the contract or risk nonrenewal of the charter after its initial period.”
The charter law specifies that students can still play interscholastic sports in their district of residence. HCA will have clubs and may have intramural programs, especially water-based activities such as sailing and kayaking.
If traditional education is learning facts and skills, then project-based education is learning where those facts and skills come from. Project-based education relates knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge to real-world activities. Project-based education is often contrasted with “Direct Instruction” or “rote” learning. In practice, HCA will not be exclusively project
based – in fact, well thought-out direct instruction will be very much be a part of our approach. One way to think about it is that the project-based elements provide the over-arching context, relevance and applications for the classroom-based skills and content.
In real dollar terms, there will be none. All charter schools in Maine are funded by “dollars follow the student” funding based on the Maine Essential Programs and Services formula (EPS). The formula takes into account all the three major sources of public school funding: State subsidy, Federal subsidy, and local share, and calculates a per-student number. That number varies by district based on several factors (average teacher salary, mil rate, % of students in poverty, etc.) but generally falls within the $6500 to $8500 range. Once a charter is granted and students are enrolled, the local school district of residence (MSAD 75, Brunswick, RSU 1 or RSU 5 for example) sends the EPS formula amount to the charter school. If HCA enrolled 15 students from MSAD 75, 10 from Brunswick and 5 each from RSU 1 and 5, then those districts would each pay the per student amount determined for their district multiplied by the number of students they send.
Rather than requiring additional taxes, charter schools shift funds from one public entity (the School District) to another public entity (the Public Charter School).
A public charter school’s funding is based on the number of students who attend the school and the programs offered. Each student’s home school administrative unit transfers a per-pupil allo- cation (EPS) to the charter school. HCA won’t receive its first EPS allocation until July 2013. In the interim, HCA will incur planning and start up costs to open its doors in September: hiring a head of school, locating and renovating space, outfitting the space for learning, acquiring books and laptops, conducting community out- reach, website development, transportation, and staff training. For the last 15 years, public charter schools normally qualified for federal start-up grants. However, Maine public charter schools do not currently have access to federal grant monies.HCA’s planning and start-up costs total $135,000.
Yes. Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, as fiscal sponsor for HCA, has established a brokerage account for this purpose. Wiring/stock certificate instructions are available upon request.