Senate Republican Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bill to Remove Charter School Cap Scheduled for Public Hearing Next Tuesday
Who: Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
What: Public hearing on LD 1158, “An Act To Remove the Limit on the Number of Public Charter Schools That May Be Approved”
Where: Cross Office Building, Room 202
When: Tuesday, April 18 at 1:00 PM
On Tuesday, April 18, the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on Senator Garrett Mason’s (R-Androscoggin) bill to eliminate the provision of law that requires the Maine Charter School Commission to cap the number of charter schools that are allowed to operate within the state until July 1, 2022 to 10.
In 2011, during his first term in office, Sen. Mason successfully sponsored legislation to establish charter schools in Maine. Included within this law was a “transition period” provision, which dictates that within the first 10 years, only 10 public charter schools may be approved by authorizers other than local school boards. Even though only six years have passed under this new law, Maine already has nine charter schools operating around the state and virtually with a tenth school in the process of applying.
Aside from the two virtual charter schools, which have the capacity to serve students from anywhere in Maine, charter schools with a physical location are clustered around central and southern Maine with locations in Cumberland, Kennebec, Sagadahoc and Somerset counties. Unless this provision is lifted, students from Washington, Hancock and Aroostook counties will have to wait until 2022 to have the same opportunities, even though some of these students could benefit the most.
“Although they are still relatively new to our state, charter schools have already proven to be a worthwhile investment ,” said Sen. Mason. “Of the nine schools in operation, eight already have lists of students waiting for openings to get in.
“Nearly 2,000 students currently benefit from the charter school model of education, which provides innovative, alternative opportunities for students to learn and grow. It is clear that the demand for this style of education is there and the “transition period” provision will soon limit opportunities for Maine students. I see no reason to continue to keep this arbitrary cap in place.”