Thursday, April 17, 2014
A plan to operate an international charter school in Brunswick has been withdrawn, local school officials and its founder confirmed Monday.
The Brunswick Landing International School would have attracted students from across the United States and the world, as well as offering slots to local students, but the plan failed to gain traction with Brunswick School Board members and has been withdrawn for the time being.
“I don’t see any will (on the school board) to move forward with this,” said the board’s chairman, Jim Grant.
John Stadler, who founded the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens, Mass., approached school department officials several months ago with an idea to develop the state’s first “district authorized” charter school.
The school would have been based at Brunswick High School and would have offered courses starting with the 11th grade. It would not have required any local tax money and would have been governed by the local school district.
Stadler said he envisioned the school attracting students from all over the world. The school could have been relocated to a larger facility at Brunswick Landing – the site of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station – once its enrollment started to grow.
But as the proposal evolved, opposition from the local community got stronger. The Brunswick School Board reviewed the proposal at a workshop in late October.
“I was surprised, but my sense is that it was not very well received,” said Stadler, who lives in Phippsburg. “There was a lot of opposition from the audience and just to charter schools in general.”
Stadler said he is receptive to offers from other communities to host an international charter school.
Grant said the school board was criticized by some members of the public for exploring Stadler’s proposal without seeking requests for proposals first.
But Grant argued that the school board owed it to the community to explore the merits of his offer.
“I had a business that wanted to enrich our program and that would not have cost our taxpayers any money,” Grant said, referring to the proposed charter school. “If someone could have helped our kids in the international job market, I want to hear about that.”
Samantha Warren, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Education, said Monday by email that the Brunswick School Board did not violate any laws governing charter schools by considering Stadler’s proposal. She said the department is always available as a resource for anyone interested in starting a charter school.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: