AUGUSTA — A proposed new elementary charter school in Lewiston or Auburn was one of two that got a green light Tuesday from the Maine State Charter Commission, Executive Director Bob Kautz said.

The second school is Snow Pond Arts Academy, which has connections to the New England Music Camp of Sidney. That school, if approved, would focus on the arts.

The next step for both proposed publicly funded charter schools is a public hearing and questioning in front of the full commission Oct. 26.

Acadia Academy, which would receive support from John F. Murphy Homes, would open in Lewiston or Auburn for the 2016-17 year, if approved. Michelle Hathaway of Turner is chairwoman of the Development Committee. An executive director will be appointed by the board.

The school proposes to start with about 112 students in prekindergarten to second grade, adding two classes each year until it has students in prekindergarten to sixth grade within the fifth year of operation.

In its application to the state, the school proposed to offer hands-on learning with parental participation and offer a nontraditional school calendar. The school would be open in the summer but in a shorter week.

It would not be a special needs student school, but would receive educational services from the John F. Murphy Homes, Kautz said.

“This is the first hurdle they have to pass,” he said. Last year the school failed to win support from the commission. One concern was a lack of autonomy between the school and the John F. Murphy Homes.

This year, the applicant “made an effort to show a separation between them and the Murphy Homes group, but Murphy will be an education service provider,” Kautz said. On Oct. 26, Acadia Academy will have “a lot of questions they’ll have to answer,” Kautz said.

In its application, Acadia Academy proposes to attract students from Lewiston-Auburn and the region.

Statewide there are seven publicly funded charter schools with about 1,500 students, Kautz said. State law allows for three more.

A change last year is that no individual school district has to pay — or else lose state education funding — for each student from the district who attends a charter school.

Now everyone in Maine pays for charter schools.

“I compare it to an insurance policy,” Kautz said. “It doesn’t come out of their budget, they don’t send a check. Everybody is getting somewhat less in state aid, but what they’re losing is less than if they had two or 10 students going to a charter school.”

The public hearing and questioning for Acadia Academy will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, in Room 103 of the State Office Building, Augusta, before the full Maine Charter Commission.

Snow Pond’s hearing will be that morning.

Two other proposed charter schools, Inspire ME Academy from the Sanford area and Peridot Montessori Academy from the Ellsworth area, were denied moving ahead.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect Michelle Hathaway serves as chairwoman of the Development Committee. She is not slated to be the executive director of the proposed school.

bwashuk@sunjournal.com


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