September 3, 2013

Maine charter schools break new ground

The state will have five of the schools when three more open this week, overcoming some continued opposition.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

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Cody Buzzell, 17, stands in the shadow of Moody Chapel as a rainbow shines over the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences during the charter school’s first commencement event, held last month at the former Good Will-Hinckley School campus in Fairfield.

Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

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Elementary teacher Kimberly Jordan organizes materials as she prepares for opening day at the Fiddlehead School of Arts & Sciences in Gray.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Brainerd said there is no shortage of demand, noting his group has a list of more than 100 "potential founders," or people who have contacted him to express interest in opening a charter school in Maine.

"The need is there, in every county," he said. "The issue is who can pull together a group with the resources and who can meet the stringent requirements of our law."

Those strict rules have hung up one category of charter schools in particular: virtual charter schools.

Maine still does not have any virtual charter schools, despite several companies that tried repeatedly to enter the market. Two rival national companies, K12 Inc. of Herndon, Va., and Connections Learning, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of the publishing giant Pearson, have been turned down twice by the charter commission, primarily for not demonstrating enough local control.

K12 and Connections Learning were the subject of a Maine Sunday Telegram investigation last year that showed how they were shaping Maine's digital education policies and how their schools in other states have fared poorly in studies of student achievement.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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

ngallagher@pressherald.com

 

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At the Fiddlehead School of Arts & Sciences, The Courtyard space is a multipurpose great room that also will serve as the cafeteria, said Executive Director Jacinda Cotton-Castro.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

  


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Today's poll: Charter schools

Do you support the idea of charter schools?

Yes

No

View Results