Maine Charter Schools

What is a public charter school?

In 2011, Maine was the 41st state to pass charter school legislation. Public charter schools were created to provide educational choice for parents, expand educational opportunity for their children, and promote change in their districts. In exchange for specific freedoms (in organizational structure, mission, and academic program), charter public schools are held to high levels of accountability. They must successfully manage school finances and operations, and they must demonstrate student achievement; if they don’t, the schools can be closed.

Are charter schools public or private schools?

They are public schools. Charter schools in Maine are founded by parents and community leaders who believe there are educational needs that are not being met by district schools. All Maine charter schools are governed by a Maine-based non-profit organization.  They operate independent of local school districts and local government, and are overseen by the Maine Charter School Commission.

Who can attend a Maine public charter school?

Public charter schools are public schools open to everyone, free of charge. They cannot – and do not – select their students. If there are more students than available seats, they hold public lotteries to determine who will attend.

Do Maine public charter schools serve “all” students?

Yes. Any school age child presently residing in Maine can enroll in a Maine public charter school tuition-free. If more applications are received than spots available a random lottery must be held to select students. Maine charter schools are public schools open to all students. Charters are a school of choice for all Maine students: low-income students, “special needs students”, students with I.E.P’s and children who are designated “Limited English Proficient” (LEP). Designating children as “special needs” is a subjective analysis by school administrators. We avoid over-labeling these children and educate them mostly in the regular classroom. Public charter schools are not exempt from Maine special education laws.

How are public charter schools funded in Maine?

Charters are funded by allocating a portion of education spending from districts based on how much money districts spent on each student. Since Maine school districts no longer educate these students, they no longer receive the funding for that child. The money for that child’s education is paid by the sending school administrative unit (SAU) to the public charter school. Therefore public charter schools do not take one dollar away from public schools, they are public schools. Charter Schools are tuition-free public schools of choice for all Maine parents and families.

How many charter schools are in Maine?

Maine’s first two charter schools opened October 1, 2012. Three more are approved to open in September 2013 including FiddleheadSchool of Arts & Sciences.

Source: Adapted from