Fiddlehead Center in Gray enters field of charter school candidates

The Maine Charter School Commission announced Thursday it had received nine charter school proposals by the Wednesday deadline, including the earliest outspoken organization, the Portland-based Baxter Academy for Technology and Science.

Baxter Academy wasn’t the only proposal coming from within striking distance of Maine’s largest city, however. Fiddlehead Arts & Science Center in Gray also filed its intent to shift from a largely after-school and summertime enrichment program to a full-fledged kindergarten-through-fifth grade charter school, with the potential for middle school grades to be added on in future years.

The Fiddlehead charter school aims to open in September for the 2012-13 school year with 30 students, a population organization leaders hope will double by its fifth year of operation and rise to 140 students by year 10.

On its letter of intent, Fiddlehead officials don’t list Portland as a target population from which they anticipate drawing students. The letter does list New Gloucester, Gray, Casco, Windham, Poland, Minot, Auburn, Pownal, North Yarmouth and Cumberland.

The center is holding a silent and live auction Saturday at its 25 Shaker Road location as a fundraiser.

Other charter school applications, which only recently became legal in Maine thanks to a change in state law, came in from the following organizations, some expected and some not:

  • Cornville Regional Charter School
  • Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at the Goodwill-Hinckley School in Fairfield
  • Maine Virtual Academy (online)
  • Monson Academy
  • John Jenkins Leadership School (online)
  • Connections Academy (online)
  • Rural Aspirations Project in Monroe

James Banks Sr., the Maine Charter School Commission issued this statement about the nine-school field of applicants:

This is an auspicious start to the process. It shows strong interest in the role that charter schools can play in Maine’s educational future. Commission members and I look forward to reviewing these applications thoroughly, but also as quickly as possible so that those that are qualified and ready can open this fall.

If the commission gives the thumbs up to all nine, which is no sure thing, the seven-member panel will have only one more golden ticket to hand out over the next nine years. According to the relatively new charter school law, the commission was formed to review and authorize 10 public charter school proposals in the program’s first 10 years.

To the degree that there are slots still available, the commission plans to request a second wave of charter school proposals in August for fall 2013 openings.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.