MALDEN - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced today that it has scheduled four public hearings in the coming weeks to invite community members to comment on this year's four charter school final applications.
Charter school founding groups that submitted a final application for a Massachusetts public charter school will undergo a rigorous review process over the next three months. The public hearings represent an opportunity for interested parties to provide feedback on the finalists. At least one member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will attend each hearing and report back to the full Board on the public testimony provided at each hearing.
In addition to the hearings, members of the public can submit written comments through Jan. 5, 2015 to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Charter School Office, 75 Pleasant St., Malden MA 902148 or by email email@example.com.
Public hearings will be held from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in the following locations:
- Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014 - Springfield
Brightwood Branch Library meeting room, 359 Plainfield St., Springfield
- Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 - Brockton (pending waiver, please see below)
Brockton Main Library meeting room, 304 Main St., Brockton
- Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 - Fitchburg
Fitchburg Public Library auditorium, 610 Main St., Fitchburg
- Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 - Salem
Bentley Elementary School cafeteria, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem
(The Department scheduled this hearing on the first day of Hanukkah only after ruling out other options. Individuals who celebrate the holiday and who would like to comment on the Salem application should feel free to attend any of the other hearings or to give input during the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Dec. 16 meeting at 8:30 a.m. at 75 Pleasant St., Malden.)
The final application process includes a rigorous review of the written final application by a review team, an interview of the applicant group, public hearings in the areas where schools are proposed to be located, and a review of public comments submitted to ESE. Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester will then review all of the materials and make final recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which will consider the recommendations and potentially vote to grant charters in February 2015.
The founders of five proposed charter schools were invited to submit final applications during the 2014-15 application cycle. The applicants for one of those, the UP Academy Charter School of Boston, which would have been a Horace Mann charter, decided to not to pursue a charter at this time.
The final application for the New Heights Charter School of Brockton was submitted for Department consideration pending a waiver. A provision of the 2010 Achievement Gap Act requires that the first two Commonwealth charters approved in a cycle must be in the lowest 10 percent of districts. The district it proposes to serve, Brockton, is not among the lowest 10 percent in the state. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will decide on the applicant's waiver request at the Board's Nov. 25 meeting. If the Board grants the waiver, the charter proposal will proceed with the review process.