The Maine Charter School Commission voted unanimously to renew the charters of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Hinckley and the Cornville Regional Charter School.

The commission voted Tuesday to renew both schools – the state’s first charter schools – for five more years.

State law allows a maximum of 10 charter schools. Maine now has seven brick-and-mortar charter schools and two virtual charter schools. A total of about 2,000 students attend charter schools in Maine, which has about 182,000 students in all.

The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, a high school with about 150 students, emphasizes agriculture and science in its hands-on learning style. Students raise animals, farm gardens and have three large greenhouses on a 1,800-acre campus that was once the Good Will-Hinckley School for Boys and Girls.

The school has year-round classes and offers boarding for students. The school is growing, and last year completed a $7 million renovation that allows it to enroll as many as 210 students over the next three years.

Officials said they are considering opening a middle school on campus and a home-based program for pregnant or home-bound students.

The commission’s review team noted that MeANS is working on a three-year plan to be financially independent from Good Will-Hinckley in operating the school, but raised concerns about how the school will maintain its finances aside from expanding the number of students.

Cornville, an elementary school with 144 students, emphasizes its unique learning model. The students are clustered by ability, not grade level, and the school is based on students being self-directed and independent.

Cornville officials are also looking to expand, with a high school in downtown Skowhegan and an early childhood center for pre-kindergarten students in the former Skowhegan Nursery School Building on Dr. Mann Road. The commission will vote on that request in December.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

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Twitter: noelinmaine