BIDDEFORD — The Biddeford School Committee voted unanimously Tuesday night to form an advisory committee to explore the feasibility of creating a district-sponsored charter school.

If the school committee approves a charter school, it would be the first in-district charter school in the state. A 2011 law authorized up to 10 charter schools during a 10-year period. School committee members and district officials say they want to actively study the feasibility of a charter school, which could benefit both students and the district’s finances.

“Charter schools are here to stay. Every student that leaves a public school in the state of Maine takes with them around $9,000 in funding,” said Superintendent Jeremy Ray. “We simply can’t afford to lose students to a charter in Portland or Kittery, so we asked ourselves if we wanted to be at the table or on the menu.”

Ray said nine Biddeford students have notified school officials they are leaving the district to attend charter schools, including seven students headed for a virtual charter school slated to open this fall. That means the district has lost about $73,000 in funding for the school year, he said.

Maine now has six charter schools, which are publicly funded but operate independently of public school districts. By law, the state has a cap of 10 charter schools until 2021. Those charter schools were approved by the Maine Charter School Commission.

Charter schools set up through a local school district do not need the approval of the commission.

Mayor Alan Casavant, who also served as school committee chairman and is a retired Biddeford High School teacher, said he was always haunted by the students who didn’t find their place in the school. He believes a Biddeford charter school could offer more options for students and serve as a model for other school districts.

“In an era of declining student enrollments and flagging state funding, we have an obligation to our students and the taxpayers to be innovative in how we think about schooling and cost-sharing,” he said.

The advisory committee will include school committee members Dennis Anglea and Laurie Jo Ready. Casavant and Ray will select other members, including teachers, parents and city officials. The school committee did not establish a time frame for the advisory committee, but Ray said it will be formed soon and immediately begin examining the feasibility of establishing a charter school.

Committee member Bil Moriarty said he thinks of Biddeford as a progressive district and looking at a charter school option is important for local education.

“It’s an exciting idea,” he said.

No one from the public commented on the proposal.

Also on Tuesday, the school committee voted unanimously to appoint Kyle Keenan as principal of Biddeford Middle School. Keenan spent the last 11 years at Noble High School in North Berwick, where he worked at various times as a special education teacher, athletic director and dean of students.