Two groups have submitted applications for the last charter school spot in Maine and will move forward with a review process by the Maine Charter School Commission.

The applications are from the Ecology Learning Center, a 9-12 school that would be based in Montville and have about 96 students, and Sheffwood Academy, a 6-12 school to be based in the Topsham area to accommodate up to 700 students.

The Maine Legislature recently approved a 10-school cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state. If approved, one of the schools would take the last remaining spot.

Members of the Maine Charter School Commission on Monday moved to accept both applications, even though commission Executive Director Bob Kautz said one of the applications was over the commission’s word count by about 16 words.

The two groups will now move on to interviews with teams of commission members, staff and consultants and answer follow-up questions on their applications.

Public interviews and hearings will also be scheduled so people can hear about the proposals and offer feedback.


The commission is anticipating a decision on the applications in September, said Director of Program Management Gina Post.

Four groups originally filed letters of intent with the commission indicating they planned to apply for the last charter spot.

Umbrella Preschool, a pre-K program that would have been based inside public elementary schools, withdrew, Kautz said.

The other group that had expressed interest, Inspire ME Academy, did not file an application and did not communicate a change in their intent with the commission, Kautz said.

The Ecology Learning Center would be a high school of fewer than 100 students run in conjunction with an existing hub for ecological-based mentorship and crafts in Montville in Waldo County.

According to its website, the center was started by homeschooling families in January 2018 and currently runs a two-day-a-week middle school program.


Sheffwood Academy would take up to 700 students in grades six through 12, focusing on the arts and technology. It is led by Meleena Erikson, a marketing consultant and author.

In other news Monday, the commission also approved a request from the Fiddlehead School of Arts & Sciences in Gray to add grades 7 and 8 to its existing pre-K to grade 6 school.

“It’s nice to see a well-developed, well-thought-out plan and that it’s not increasing numbers for financial stability, it’s increasing numbers for the philosophy,” said commission member Shelley Reed.

“This is something where for a number of years parents would say, ‘When can it expand? Because we want our students to be in the same learning environment.’ ”

Rachel Ohm — 791-6388 

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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