Greenville considering charter school status

Greenville considering charter school status

July 24, 2009 Posted by Maine Heritage Policy Center - No Comments

Had the Maine Legislature passed the charter school bill a few weeks ago, we might be watching the development of Maine’s first conversion charter school by this point. According to the Bangor Daily News, the town of Greenville, looking for ways to attract young families and economic development to the Moosehead Lake region, are considering converting to a charter school in order to adopt an innovative new approach to teaching and learning:

“We want to do more around the line of environmental education, but
because of the constraints of state and federal requirements and
mandates, we haven’t been able to be as flexible with the program [as]
we’d like to be,” Union 60 Superintendent Heather Perry said Wednesday.

Perry
said school and municipal officials have explored the possibility of
the Greenville schools’ taking on a quasi-private status to allow that
flexibility but found too many barriers. They now have shifted their
focus to the possibility of creating the state’s first charter school.

“The charter school would allow us to be a little bit more flexible
and it would almost operate like an independent school where we could
have tuition students from throughout the state and New England,” Perry
said.

Unfortunately for Greenville, the Maine Legislature defeated the charter school bill, despite the fact that, as the Bangor Daily reported, “the bill had the support of the state Board of Education, the Maine
Department of Education, the governor, the House of Representatives and
the Maine PTA.”

A majority of legislators clearly think that they know better than Greenville residents what is best for Greenville, and until that changes, it is hard to see how the town can move forward with this innovative approach. Still, that towns are thinking in these terms means that they understand how innovative and successful schools can be a tool for economic and community development, even in the most rural parts of Maine. There is hope, therefore, that pressure to pass charter school legislation will continue to mount.

A public forum on charter schools will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, in the Greenville High and Middle School library.