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For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Contact:Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115

4 Groups Seek to Open New Charter Schools,

In addition, 4 existing schools seek to expand

MALDEN - The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received proposals this month from four groups seeking to open new charter schools as well as requests from four other charter schools looking to expand enrollment.

The Department will decide by mid-September which applicant groups to invite to submit full proposals. The final applications will be due by November 1, 2017, and Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson will then decide which finalists to recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for consideration in early 2018.

"I am pleased that groups continue to be interested in opening high-quality charter schools, because we know that there are still many more children interested in attending a charter school than there are available charter seats" said Acting Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Wulfson. "I and ESE staff will look carefully at these proposals before deciding which should submit a final application."

Many communities still have room for new charter school seats under existing caps, which limit the amount of net school spending a school district can spend on charter school tuition. The proposals announced today hope to create schools in a few of the communities still below their caps.

The state's charter school cap requires that no more than 9 percent of a district's net school spending may be allocated to charter school tuition, except for in the state's lowest performing districts, where the cap on charter tuition is up to 18 percent. In those districts, however, charter school founders applying to create seats above the 9 percent threshold must demonstrate that they are "proven providers" with a track record of strong performance, especially with regard to high-need students.

Nearly all charter school groups listed below that are proposing new schools or expansions will need to show they are proven providers using the most recent data. The only exception is the Massachusetts Wildflower Montessori Charter School proposed for Haverhill, because Haverhill is still under the 9 percent cap.

The prospectuses that were submitted for consideration are:

Proposals to Start a New Commonwealth Charter SchoolDistrict or RegionProposed Grade SpanProposed Maximum EnrollmentOpening Year
Equity Lab Charter SchoolLynn5-126402018
Massachusetts Wildflower Montessori Charter SchoolHaverhillK-82702018
New Bedford Cheironeum, A Commonwealth Charter SchoolNew Bedford6-121,0082019

The Department also received a letter of intent to apply for an additional charter from the Board of Trustees of the Phoenix Academy Public Charter High Schools in Chelsea and Springfield, two regional Commonwealth charter schools serving students in grades 9-12. The Phoenix Trustees would like to open a third Commonwealth charter school that would serve students in grades 9-12 from Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen. Because the Phoenix trustees already operate two charter schools, they only need to submit a letter of intent, not a prospectus, at this stage in the process. Like most of the other proposals announced today, the Phoenix group will need to demonstrate that it is a proven provider before the commissioner decides whether to invite it to submit a final application.

Letter of Intent to Open an Additional SchoolRegionProposed Grade SpanProposed Maximum EnrollmentOpening Year
Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, LawrenceLawrence, Haverhill and Methuen9-122502018

Requests to Expand an Existing Charter School:

Existing Charter SchoolCurrent District or RegionCurrent Grade SpanCurrent Maximum EnrollmentProposed Amendment to Charter
Holyoke Community Charter SchoolHolyokeK-8702Add a high school; add Chicopee, South Hadley and West Springfield to the school's region; and add 439 seats.
KIPP Academy Lynn Charter SchoolLynnK-121,586Add 1,014 seats.
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter SchoolAgawam, Amherst, Amherst-Pelham, Belchertown, Chesterfield-Goshen, Chicopee, Conway, Deerfield, East Longmeadow, Easthampton, Frontier, Gill-Montague, Granby, Granville, Greenfield, Hadley, Hampden-Wilbraham, Hampshire, Hatfield, Hawlemont, Holyoke, Leverett, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Mohawk Trail, Northampton, Pelham, Pioneer Valley, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Southampton, Springfield, Sunderland, West Springfield, Westfield, Westhampton, Whately, Williamsburg, Southwick-TollandK-12584Add 452 seats.
Veritas Preparatory Charter SchoolSpringfield5-8324Add 108 seats.

When deciding whether to allow a school to amend its charter to expand, the commissioner and Board consider evidence regarding the success of the school's academic program, its organizational viability, its faithfulness to the terms of its charter and the availability of existing seats under current caps.

With respect to the expansion requests, the acting commissioner and Board will consider comments solicited from the superintendents within each charter school's proposed district or region. Members of the public may also submit written comments regarding expansion requests to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148 or by email to charterschools@doe.mass.edu.

Comments on proposed new schools will be solicited during the final application stage.

There are currently 78 charter schools in Massachusetts, serving over 42,000 students, 4.5 percent of all public school students in the Commonwealth. For more information on charter schools, visit Massachusetts Charter Schools webpage.

For a copy of a prospectus or expansion request, please send an email to charterschools@doe.mass.edu.

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Last Updated: August 10, 2017
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