The leaders of an alternative school for pregnant teens and high school dropouts say they are ending their efforts to become a public charter school in Maine next fall, according to a letter sent to the Maine Charter School Commission.

“We have decided to stay focused on the work we know, and the work we do well as a private school,” read the Oct. 18 letter from Wayfinder head of school Dorothy Foote and Wayfinder Chairman Paul Andrews.

Earlier this month, the commission had split 3-3 on whether to accept the review team’s recommendation against moving forward with the application from Wayfinder Academy. The tie vote meant it moved forward and the commission had scheduled an interview and public hearing.

Maine has a 10-school cap on charter schools, and there are already seven brick-and-mortar charter schools and two virtual charter schools. A total of about 2,000 students attend charter schools in Maine, which has about 182,000 students in all.

Wayfinder’s withdrawal means the commission will consider new applications next year for applicants looking to open in fall 2018. The first two charter schools opened in 2011 and are currently going through a five-year charter review process.

Wayfinder Schools was created in 2011 out of the merger of The Community School – Maine’s first alternative high school – and the 100-year-old Opportunity Farm. It serves about 80 students through two programs. Eighteen students attend a nine-month residential program at its campuses in Camden and New Gloucester, and the rest are in an at-home program called Passages, for pregnant teens ages 14-20 who had to leave school because of parenthood.

Commissioners had raised concerns about the group’s ability to transition from its private operation to a public charter school, which must be open to anyone who wanted to attend, not just pregnant or at-risk youths.

Several of the existing charter schools in Maine started out as private schools that transitioned to public charter schools, including Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, Fiddlehead School of Arts and Science, and Snow Pond Arts Academy.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine


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