January 9, 2013

Augusta panel rejects 4 of 5 proposals for new charter schools

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Peter Mills, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority and secretary of the Maine Virtual Academy, expressed frustration about the criticism of the school’s governance.

“My reason for being involved in all this was to make sure that Maine people would be in control and that it would be done in a proper way,” Mills said. “You needed a board that would be capable of exercising some control over the contractor and by the same token compelling the corporation to produce.”

“We think (K12 Inc.) is capable of producing because they have enormous resources,” said Mills.

He said it’s likely that the school will apply for a charter in future years. “I think our application was pretty good.”

Both of the proposed schools filed applications with the Charter School Commission last year in hopes of opening this fall.

Commissioners set the applications aside, expressing concerns about their own competence to judge the complex proposals in short order and the possible lack of independence of the local boards.

LePage criticized that decision in a letter dated June 11, in which he suggested that the commissioners reconsider the virtual schools or resign.

The head of the state’s largest teachers union expressed satisfaction with the commission’s decisions Tuesday.

“The MEA is very pleased to hear that particularly the two virtual schools are not still in the running,” said Maine Education Association President Lois Kilby-Chesley. “We are very pleased that there seems to be a process of thoughtful consideration for the schools that are applying.”

On that point, Brainerd of the charter schools association agreed.

“Online education is coming, and we need to deal with it, and it’s better to take more time than to rush into something,” he said. “Much as we would like to see something going, it’s better to get it going right from the beginning.”


State House Bureau Writer Steve Mistler contributed to this report.


Staff Writer Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:

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