CORNVILLE — The Cornville Regional Charter School will be ready for classes in September in the former Cornville Elementary School with 50 students in kindergarten through grade 6.

All they need now, board chairman Justin Belanger said, is acceptance of their charter by the Maine Charter School Commission.

“The building will be ready, we will have hired staff and we’ll have plenty of kids waiting for the school to be ready to go,” Belanger said. “We’ve done our homework; we’ve gotten the charter ready. We’re going to be applying very soon to the state’s request for proposals, and I believe we’ll have all our ducks in a row and be ready to go by September.”

The commission earlier this week announced it was ready to accept applications from potential charter school operators.

Letters of intent to apply are due May 16, with final applications due June 29; but Belanger said his board will have its paperwork in by the end of May.

The commission must approve or deny applications within 90 days of receiving them, and a charter contract must be negotiated and settled at least 60 days before the school opens, according to a report published this week.

A charter school is a public school that receives public money — state, local and federal — but is created and operated by local parents, teachers and community leaders, free of the rules and regulations of the area school district. Charter schools are open to all regional students, with no additional tuition fees or admissions tests.

Opponents of charter schools say they would force local school boards to raise taxes to provide the same level of service to the remaining students.

“Our charter is currently being reviewed by the Maine Association of Charter Schools and the National Charter School Association, as well as our board,” Belanger said.

The applications must include information about a proposed school’s curriculum, recruitment and enrollment procedures, staff policies, leadership, facilities and finances, according to the report. Belanger said course work will be based on the Maine Common Core standards, and each child will have a personal learning plan.

Belanger said his board has signed up students from Athens, Canaan, Cornville, Fairfield, Madison and Skowhegan.

The Charter School Commission can authorize up to 10 charter schools in the first decade. Once applications are submitted, the commission must hold a public hearing on each application in the area where the applicant proposes opening the school.

Belanger said the Cornville charter school would use a traditional curriculum, with mathematics, reading, language, social studies, but also less traditional classroom instruction.

“We also have farmers and other people on our advisory board who want to come in and teach science through farming,” Belanger said. “We got lawyers and Ph.D.’s and artists that want to help us with integrating art throughout the curriculum. We’ve heard from a teacher who wants to teach sign language.”

He said science and social studies also will be taught with a hands on approach using everyday skills including cooking, knitting, gardening and woodworking.

Belanger said his group has been in contact with Glenn Cummings, president and executive director of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at Good Will-Hinckley in Fairfield. He said Cornville students would visit that school as part of their curriculum.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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