The lone slot left in the state’s 10-school limit for charter schools will stay open for at least a year.

No one applied this year to open a new charter school in the fall of 2018.

This summer, two groups notified the Maine Charter School Commission that they intended to apply for the final charter, but did not submit an application by the deadline Friday, commission officials said.

The two groups were representing Monson Forest Kindergarten, an outdoor learning school in Monson for pre-K through first-grade students, and Stanwood Montessori in Hancock County, for pre-K though eighth-grade students.

About 2,000 of Maine’s roughly 182,000 students attend charter schools. State funding for the schools, which are continuing to add whole grades at a time as they expand in their startup years, is $19 million in 2017-18.

The pace of new charter schools in Maine slowed to one or two schools opening a year after the first five charter schools were approved in the first two years. No new charter school will open this fall after the lone applicant – Wayfinder, an alternative school for pregnant teens and high school dropouts – withdrew its application.


Although the number of groups applying has slowed, a bill was introduced in the last legislative session to lift the 10-year cap before its expiration in 2021. The bill died in committee.

Nationally, there is a belief that charter schools will enjoy new political momentum since President Trump appointed Betsy DeVos, a major charter school advocate, as secretary of education.

The Trump administration also is expected to add incentives to encourage the growth of taxpayer-financed, privately operated charter schools across the nation.

In Maine, lawmakers have noted that the 10-school limit was crucial to getting political support to pass the charter school legislation, and is intended to give the state time to evaluate the schools and the charter school oversight process before lifting the cap.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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