Lewiston-Auburn charter school rejected; online school will move forward

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AUGUSTA — A second online charter school proposed in Maine has been given the green light to move forward to a public hearing, while a Lewiston-Auburn charter school proposed by the Margaret Murphy Children’s Center was rejected Wednesday.

The Maine State Charter School Commission voted unanimously not to move forward with applications for Acadia Academy, proposed for Lewiston-Auburn, and Inspire ME Academy, proposed for the Sanford area.

The Lewiston-Auburn school would have opened in September 2015 with 94 pre-kindergarten to grade one students, and eventually add students up to grade five.

But a review team was not confident that Acadia Academy met the requirements to create a successful, sustainable, high-quality public charter school.

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One concern was that it would be too “entwined” with Margaret Murphy and John Murphy Homes, relying on them for leadership, staff, professional development and legal and financial expertise. Another concern cited in the report was that the school appeared to target special education students, “which raises questions about the program’s ability to serve all students.”

The online charter school allowed to move forward is Maine Virtual Academy. A public hearing will be held from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 27 in Room J-314 at Central Maine Community College. Commission members will vote Nov. 13 on whether the online school can open in the fall of 2015.

If approved, the online school would be the seventh charter school in Maine. Another online charter school opened earlier this year and has enrolled 300 students from 86 school districts, charter commission Executive Director Bob Kautz said.

In 2011, Gov. Paul LePage signed legislation legalizing up to 10 public charter schools in Maine. So far, six charter schools are serving nearly 900 students. The schools are the Cornville Regional Charter School, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Hinckley, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, Fiddlehead School of Arts and Sciences in Gray, Harpswell Coastal Academy and Maine Connections Academy.

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