Measuring Up to the Model



Maine

TOTAL SCORE:
163 out of 228

Rank: 4 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  2011 Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  5 Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  400 Maine did not pass any legislation in 2013 that affected its score and ranking. Maine’s score decreased from 166 points in 2013 to 163 points this year. The score changed because of adjustments in our methodology for Component #4 (Authorizer and Overall Program Accountability System Required). Its ranking went from #2 to #4. Potential areas for improvement in the law are lifting the state’s cap on state-authorized charters and ensuring equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

Do Maine's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Maine's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

While Maine law does not limit the number of charter schools that may be approved by local school boards, it does provide that there can be no more than 10 schools approved by the State Charter Schools Commission during its first 10 years. This “cap” is repealed by statute effective 2022. There are currently five charter schools that have been approved by the State Charter Schools Commission.

Maine law also contains temporary enrollment caps in that a charter school cannot enroll more than 5% to 10% of the resident school district’s students per grade level in each of the first three years that a school is open.

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1A. No limits are placed on the number of public charter schools or students (and no geographic limits).

1B. If caps exist, adequate room for growth.

2. A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Maine law allows new start-ups, public school conversions, and virtual schools.

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2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Maine law provides that any local school board or a collaborative of local school boards may become an authorizer by issuing a request for proposals. In addition, the law allows charter school applicants to apply directly to the State Charter Schools Commission. The law provides that only the Commission can approve virtual schools. There is some authorizing activity by the State Charter Schools Commission but little activity by local school boards.

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3A. The state allows two or more authorizing options (e.g., school districts and a state charter schools commission) for each applicant with direct application to each authorizer.

4. Authorizer & Overall Program Accountability System Required

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Maine law requires that local school boards interested in authorizing must issue a request for proposal.

Maine law requires authorizers to submit an annual report to the state commissioner of education detailing their strategic vision for chartering and progress toward that vision, the performance of all of their charter schools, the status of their charter school portfolio, the oversight and services that they provide to their charter schools, and the total amount of funds collected from each public charter school the authorizer authorized and the costs incurred by the authorizer to oversee each public charter school.

The law gives the state department of education the right to investigate and, as appropriate, institute sanctions in response to authorizer performance or legal compliance. In addition to any other sanction instituted, the law allows the state commissioner of education to suspend a deficient authorizer’s authority to issue new charters or renew existing charters until the commissioner is satisfied that the deficiencies have been corrected.

Statute requires that the state department of education submit a comprehensive report to the Governor, legislature, and public four and eight years after charter schools have been in operation.

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4A. At least a registration process for local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state.

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities.

N/A

4C. Authorizer submission of annual report, which summarizes the agency’s authorizing activities as well as the performance of its school portfolio.

4D. A regular review process by authorizer oversight body.

4E. Authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction authorizers, including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

4F. Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

5. Adequate Authorizer Funding

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Maine law allows authorizers to charge up to 3% of the per pupil allocations sent to the schools they authorize to cover the costs for an authorizer to oversee its public charter schools. Statute requires authorizers to report to the state commissioner of education the oversight and services they provide to their charter schools, although no detailed authorizer expenditures from such fees are explicitly required to be reported.

Statute provides that charter schools may not be required to purchase services from its authorizer, but may choose to do so. The law provides that schools and authorizers must execute an annual service contract, separate from the charter contract, stating the terms of the services.

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5A. Adequate funding from authorizing fees (or other sources).

5B. Guaranteed funding from authorizing fees (or from sources not subject to annual legislative appropriations).

5C. Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.

5D. Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.

5E. Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

6. Transparent Charter Application, Review, and Decisionmaking Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Maine law details the core elements required in the charter application and offers additional pieces for conversion schools and those proposing to use educational service providers. It does not contain additional application elements specific to virtual schools and replications.

Maine law requires authorizers to issue a request for proposals that includes application requirements and approval criteria.

Maine law requires authorizers to thoroughly evaluate each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

Maine law provides that all charter approval or denial decisions must made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

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6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

6C. Additional application elements specific to virtual schools.

6D. Additional application elements specific when using educational service providers.

6E. Additional application elements specific to replications.

6F. Authorizer-issued request for proposals (including application requirements and approval criteria).

6G. Thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

6H. All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

7. Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Maine law defines the charter contract as a performance-based contract for a fixed term between a charter school and an authorizer that describes performance expectations, provides operational responsibilities, and outlines the autonomy and accountability for each party for the contract.

Statute requires that the charter contract define academic and operational performance expectations by which a school will be judged based on a performance framework that includes measures and metrics for, at a minimum, student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, attendance, recurrent enrollment, postsecondary readiness (high schools), financial performance, and board stewardship (including compliance).

Statute provides that the initial charter term must be five years. The law also includes requirements specific to virtual charter schools.

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7A. Being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.

7B. Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.

7C. Defining academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged, based on a performance framework that includes measures and metrics for, at a minimum, student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, attendance, recurrent enrollment, postsecondary readiness (high schools), financial performance, and board stewardship (including compliance).

7D. Providing an initial term of five operating years (or a longer term with periodic high-stakes reviews.

7E. Including requirements addressing the unique environments of virtual schools, if applicable.

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Maine law explicitly requires authorizers to collect, analyze, and report all outcome and financial data in accordance with the performance framework outlined in each school’s contract. Statute also provides authorizers with clear authority to monitor the performance and compliance of their charter schools.

The law provides that authorizers must provide written notice to their schools of perceived problems and provide reasonable opportunity for the school to remedy the problems.

The law requires charter schools to annually engage an external auditor, and submit the audits to their authorizer.
It does not require authorizers to publicly issue annual school performance reports.

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8A. The collection and analysis of student outcome data at least annually by authorizers (consistent with performance framework outlined in the contract).

8B. Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).

8C. Authorizer authority to conduct or require oversight activities.

8D. Annual school performance reports which are made public.

8E. Authorizer notification to their schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.

8F. Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.

9. Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal, and Revocation Decisions

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Maine law provides that during the fourth year of a charter school’s operation, the authorizer must issue a public charter school performance report. If the charter contract is expiring the next year, the law also requires the authorizer to offer charter renewal application guidance to the school. The law requires the performance report to include data on performance to date and notice of any weaknesses or concern that may jeopardize renewal. The law requires that schools be given the opportunity to respond and submit any corrections or clarifications and to submit additional evidence. In addition, the law requires such schools to officially apply for renewal by no later than September of their fifth year of operation.

The law includes clear criteria and nonrenewal/revocation. It also requires authorizers to make their renewal decisions based on evidence of the school’s performance over the term of the charter.

Maine law provides that an authorizer may renew a chart for successive terms of five years, and may issue a renewal for a full 15 years with public performance reports every five years.

The law requires authorizers to provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal, including reasons, and reasonable time to respond.

Maine law requires renewal decisions to occur via a resolution of an authorizer’s governing body, with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

Statute includes school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

The law does not require authorizers to provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions.

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9A. Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.

9B. Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.

9C. Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.

9D. Clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.

9E. Authorizers must ground renewal decisions based on evidence regarding the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract (in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract).

9F. Authorizer authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.

9G. Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.

9H. Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).

9I. All charter renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

9J. Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

10. Educational Service Providers (ESPs) Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Maine statute allows charter school governing boards for virtual charter schools to enter into contracts with educational service providers for education design, implementation, or comprehensive management of the virtual public charter school program. However, it only allows charter school governing boards for brick and mortar charter schools to enter into contracts with educational service providers for a limited scope of education or management services.

Maine law requires the charter application to contain details regarding past performance data of any service provider and significant details regarding the terms of the proposed contract with the service provider.

The law also requires the application to contain details about any potential conflict of interests between the charter school governing board and the service provider and a statement of assurance that the two entities are legally and operationally independent of each other.

Maine rules require a public charter school’s governing board, leaders, and managers to be legally and operationally independent from any education service provider. In determining whether boards, leaders, and managers are independent of the service provider, the rules require an authorizer to consider all factors, including but not limited to: whether the charter school’s governing board is selected by, or includes members who are employees of, the education service provider; whether the charter school has an independent attorney, accountant, and audit firm that works for the charter school and not the education service provider; whether the contract between the charter school and the education service provider was negotiated at “arms length,” clearly describes each party’s rights and responsibilities, and specifies reasonable and feasible terms under which either party may terminate the contract; whether the fee to be paid by the charter school to the education service provider is reasonable for the type of services provided; and whether any other agreements, e.g., loans or leases between the charter school and the education service provider are fair and reasonable, documented appropriately, align with market rates, and include terms that will not change if the contract is terminated.

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10A. All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and non-profit) explicitly allowed to operate all or parts of schools.

10B. The charter application requires 1) performance data for all current and past schools operated by the ESP, including documentation of academic achievement and (if applicable) school management success; and 2) explanation and evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.

10C. A performance contract is required between the independent public charter school board and the ESP, setting forth material terms including but not limited to: performance evaluation measures; methods of contract oversight and enforcement by the charter school board; compensation structure and all fees to be paid to the ESP; and conditions for contract renewal and termination.

10D. The material terms of the ESP performance contract must be approved by the authorizer prior to charter approval.

10E. School governing boards operating as entities completely independent of any educational service provider (e.g., must retain independent oversight authority of their charter schools, and cannot give away their authority via contract).

10F. Existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

11. Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Public Charter School Boards

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Maine law states that all charter schools are to be governed by a board that is independent of a school administrative unit and has autonomy over key decisions including finance, personnel, scheduling, curriculum, and instruction.

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11A. Fiscally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to receive and disburse funds, incur debt, and pledge, assign or encumber assets as collateral).

11B. Legally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to enter into contracts and leases, sue and be sued in their own names, and acquire real property).

11C. School governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

12. Clear Student Recruitment, Enrollment, and Lottery Procedures

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Maine law provides that charter schools are open to any state resident as well as to residents outside of the state if space is available.

The law details lottery provisions.

The law requires that enrollment preferences must be provided to previously enrolled students within conversions, prior year students within chartered schools, siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school.

The law allows schools to give preferences to the children of charter school founders, board members, and full-time staff, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

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12A. Open enrollment to any student in the state.

12B. Lottery requirements.

12C. Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions, prior year students within chartered schools, siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school.

12D. Optional enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

13. Automatic Exemptions from Many State and District Laws and Regulations

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Maine law provides that charter schools are automatically exempt from all statutes and rules other than those stated in the charter school law.

Maine law provides that teachers must comply with federal regulations regarding teacher qualifications and that full-time teachers must either hold an appropriate teaching certificate or become certified within three years except for those with an advanced degree, professional certification, or unique expertise or experience in the curricular area in which they teach.

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13A. Exemptions from all laws, except those covering health, safety, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information, and generally accepted accounting principles.

13B. Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

14. Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemption

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Maine law provides that teachers in new start-up schools have the right to bargain collectively, but it must be separate from other bargaining units such as the district bargaining unit. The law also provides that these teachers cannot be required to be members of any existing agreement.

Maine law provides that teachers in conversion schools have a right to benefits as stated in applicable collective bargaining agreements or they may vote to be represented in alternative ways.

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14A. Charter schools authorized by non-local board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.

14B. Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

15. Multischool Charter Contracts and/or Multicharter Contract Boards Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Statute allows both multi-school contracts and multi-charter contract boards. It also makes clear that any charter school that contains multiple campuses operating under a single charter contact or overseen by a single governing board must report the performance of each campus and hold them independently accountable for its performance.

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15A. Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

15B. Hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

16. Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities Eligibility and Access

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

The law states that charter students have the right to participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities not offered by their school to the same extent, and subject to the same, requirements as non-charter public school students. The law provides that non-charter schools may require such students to pay a portion of the cost of providing those activities. Nothing is noted about charter school employees having similar rights to participate in awards and recognition programs.

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16A. Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs available to non-charter public school students and employees.

16B. Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extra-curricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at non-charter public schools for a fee by a mutual agreement.

17. Clear Identification of Special Education Responsibilities

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

If a local school board approves a charter school, the school district is the LEA for the school and has responsibility for special education services. If the State Charter Schools Commission approves a charter school, the charter school is the LEA and responsible for special education.

Statute provides that the district of residence must send any federal or state aid attributable to a student with a disability in proportion to the level for services for that student that the charter school provides directly or indirectly. However, if a local school board or a collaborative of local school boards authorizes a public charter school in which a student is enrolled, the law provides that special education funds must be paid to the local school board that authorized the school or to the designated school board of the collaborative, rather than directly to the school. The law provides that the local school board or boards that authorized the school are responsible for ensuring that special education services are provided to students in that school.

Statute indicates that the state department of education must pay to a public charter school any additional allocation assigned to the school because of a high-cost in-district placement in accordance with state law in the year in which the allocation is assigned and that the school administrative unit of residence must pay to a public charter school any additional allocation assigned to the unit because of a high-cost out-of-district placement in accordance with state law in the year in which the allocation is assigned to the school administrative unit.

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17A. Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.

17B. Clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).

18. Equitable Operational Funding and Equal Access to All State and Federal Categorical Funding

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Maine law includes many of the model law’s provisions for equitable operational and categorical funding, but there is no evidence of the amount of funds charters receive versus districts.

Maine law provides that state and local operating funds follow each student to the public charter school attended by the student, but allows districts to retain up to 1% of the per-pupil allocation for administrative costs associated with the transfer of funds.

The law provides that funding must be transferred from the local school district of residence to the charter school. The law also provides that if a district does not comply with the law’s funding provisions, the state treasurer will deduct the necessary amount from the district’s state funds and send it to the charter school.

For transportation expenses, the law provides that the average per-pupil expense in each school administrative unit of residence must be calculated and an amount equal to a proportion, up to but not more than 100%, of that per-pupil allocation amount must be forwarded to the public charter school attended on the same basis as the per-pupil allocations for operating funds. It also provides that the percentage of that per-pupil expense must be determined by the authorizer of the public charter school and must be based on the cost of transportation services provided by the public charter school to the student.

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18A. Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.

18B. Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding, and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.

18C. Funding for transportation similar to school districts.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Maine law provides that charter schools have right of first refusal to purchase or lease any school facilities or property and that the price cannot exceed the fair market value of the property.

The law also provides that the facility of a charter school is subject to the same building codes, regulations and fees that apply to other non-charter schools.

4

19A. A per-pupil facilities allowance which annually reflects actual average district capital costs.

19B. A state grant program for charter school facilities.

19C. A state loan program for charter school facilities.

19D. Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allow charter schools to have their own bonding authority.

19E. A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for public charter school facilities.

19F. Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to non-charter public schools.

19G. Right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed, unused, or underused public school facility or property.

19H. Prohibition of facility-related requirements stricter than those applied to traditional public schools.

20. Access to Relevant Employee Retirement Systems

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

The law provides that charter schools may establish a retirement plan or may choose to set up a plan with the state retirement system.

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20A. Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.

20B. Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).