For Rob and Tracey Logan, it’s about options for their 10-year-old son.

said his son does well in subjects like math and history, and has a
double-dose of creativeness. But sometimes the fifth-grader has a hard
time with how the classroom functions.

the Logans are celebrating Tuesday’s decision by the Maine Charter
School Commission to move ahead with consideration of Harpswell Coastal
Academy as the state’s next public charter school.

Harpswell Coastal Academy was the only charter school application of five to move forward Tuesday. The Heartwood Charter School for Visual and Performing Arts in Kennebunk; Maine Connections Academy; Maine Virtual Academy; and the Queen City Academy Charter School in Old Town all were rejected, mostly on governance issues and the schools’ financial and curriculum plans.

Reaction to the Harpswell school’s advance struck a wide path Tuesday.

Local public school officials expressed concern.

it means to us is that obviously we’re going to lose dollars, and we
are already losing dollars from the curtailment of the governor in this
budget, and the prospect of a charter school simply means more dollars
in this district are going to go to another school,” said Joanne Rogers,
school board chairwoman for School Administrative District 75, which
provides education to students in Harpswell, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and

2013-14 budget process is under way in SAD 75, with school officials
looking at the money it won’t have, Rogers said, and “it’s going to be
even more difficult this year.”

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said the number of rejections Tuesday was evidence of a flaw in the commission’s process.

obviously a problem here,” Bowen said. “What this leads me to wonder is
are we at the Department of Education doing a good enough job and is
the commission doing a good enough job in indicating to applicants what
they should be doing.

“My biggest concern is potentially the chilling effect this will have on other folks putting forward applications,” he said.

Maine School Boards Association, which has long opposed charter schools
in Maine, partly because they siphon funding away from traditional
public schools, praised Tuesday’s action.

very pleased and feel these were the right decisions for the commission
to make,” Maine School Boards Association Executive Director Connie
Brown said.

Grady, chairman of the board of directors for Harpswell Coastal
Academy, said he was sorry Tuesday for the people who put work into
their proposals and will not be moving forward, “but for us it confirms
the fact that we have a very strong application, a very strong team and a
very strong idea that we’re moving forward on. I’m thrilled we’re over
this hurdle and we’ll see what comes next.”

The Logans were excited.

I am very excited about it, on a couple of different levels,” Rob Logan
said. “What we have is the environmental resource that is Harpswell,”
and as coastal communities like Harpswell struggle to provide
opportunity for young families, “to have kids in this kind of area, it’s
just great for the community. If you have lots of kids in the
community, you have a very vital community. It’s the garden; it’s a
source and it’s really important.”

His son attended the now-closed West Harpswell School before moving to Woodside Elementary School in Topsham three years ago.

they were happy with his teachers and schools, “The bottom line as a
parent is, if you find something that is better for your child’s
education and you don’t do it, you’ll kick yourself,” said Rob Logan
who, like his wife, is a professional artist.

Logan also has been an art teacher who said he has worked in charter,
private and public schools. “One of the things I like with charter
schools is project-based learning and I’ve seen how that works,” he

emphasized he is a supporter of public schools, and that his son’s
teachers are outstanding, but there have been times when he and his wife
have said, “Wouldn’t it be great if (he) had a more project-based
learning experience?”

said project-based learning encompasses a lot of subject matter and
involves going out into the community. He has found when students are
allowed to interact with their community to apply skills, “some of the
kids really retain it better.”

Grady explains the school’s project-based learning as hands-on but more importantly, relevant.

goal is to use the natural resources base of Harpswell and the coastal
ecosystem to engage kids in this community and in the areas of the
working waterfront fields and the forests of Harpswell and the host of
community members here that can engage kids and work with kids on
real-world projects,” Grady said. “So our theme really is a
standards-based curriculum using a project-based (or often referred to
as expeditionary) type curriculum.”

biggest concern Logan said his son has would be leaving his friends
behind. “It sounds like a good matchup for (him) as I look at it, but
I’ve got to consider all the aspects.”

proposed school has “a lot of hard work” to open in September,
including finding a facility, hiring staff and attracting students, said
John D’Anieri, a consultant working with the school.

if the proposal is approved. The commission and the school will spend
the next several weeks developing an extensive contract that lays out
how the school would operate and how the commission would oversee it. A
final decision is expected Feb. 15.

Grady said the school awaits details about the coming meeting from the commission.

we submitted our application, it’s been a little uncertain what’s next,
so I think we’re excited there’s a concrete next step and we’re going
to await the details and do what we need to do to provide the commission
with any future detail they want from us so we can continue moving

proposal’s next phase of review is an interview and public hearing Jan. 18 at the Cundy’s Harbor Community Center, 837 Cundy’s Harbor Road.
The interview will begin at 10 a.m. and the public hearing will start
at 1 p.m. The public is invited to comment.

Grady said the hearing is “a really important step in the process, and we want everybody’s voice to be heard.”

are very interested in opening any partnerships and trying to work in
this community to make the future opening of our school potentially a
positive one that really allows this community to better serve kids,” he

told The Times Record that Harpswell Coastal Academy hopes to inform
the commission by next Tuesday of three potential locations for the

Coastal Academy would enroll students in grades 6 to 12, opening
initially with 40 to 80 students only in grades six and nine.

state education funds follow a student from the local sending school to
the charter school, public schools in the area could lose up to 80
students next year — and their funding — amid an already brutal budget

the SAD 75 school board chairwoman, lamented the district won’t know
how many students it may lose and can’t have any kind of exact estimate
of the cost until Harpswell Coastal Academy is given permission to
operate. “It is a substantial amount of money,” she said.

how she approaches the concept of charter schools, Rogers said, “I
think our first concern is, what effect is it going to have on our
education system? What impact is it going to have on what we can offer?”

If approved, Harpswell Coastal Academy would be Maine’s fifth public charter school. Current law caps the number at 10, though Gov. Paul LePage is preparing legislation to lift that cap.

Maine’s charter school law was passed by the Legislature in 2011.

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