Harpswell Coastal Academy, a charter school with locations in Harpswell and Brunswick, has applied to renew its charter from the Maine Charter School Commission.

The school was first opened in 2013 with a five year charter from MCSC.

“The school was started by a group of Harpswell residents, who were in part responding to the closing of an elementary school in the town,” said Executive Director Carrie Branson. “That group of community members got together to think about what a school could look like that would connect kids to this area and make them feel like there was life for them after high school in Midcoast Maine.”

Although the Maine Charter School Commission has the authority to grant 10- year charters, so far the norm has been five year charters. The first two charter schools approved in the state, Cornville Charter School in Cornville and and The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Fairfield were both renewed last year.

While the renewal process offers an opportunity to make substantial changes to the school’s charter, such as changing the grades taught or major goals for the next five years. Branson said that HCA would largely stay the course for now.

“For our application in particular, we’re not looking for any substantive changes,” said Branson.

According to Branson, HCA offers a unique and important addition to the Midcoast’s education offerings.

“(HCA) is focused on a project-based curriculum that allows us to really use our local environment and connect with community partners,” she said.

“We are very proud to be part of the public school system in the state, and we believe strongly that it is important to have different choices, for students to find a school program that best meets their academic and social needs,” she added.

While there have been no indications from the MCSC on which way they’ll vote on the renewal, Branson said that there haven’t been any significant issues raised in the past.

The MCSC will visit the Brunswick campus in November to help with their decision.

“We’re asking community members and families to join us and talk about why they’d like to see us continue and how we’ve been helpful to their children,” said Branson.

The meeting is Nov. 1 from 4-6 pm at the Brunswick campus.

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