Charter School Authorizers

The charter school authorizer plays a crucial role in the formation of charter schools and in their continued, successful operation.

Role of the Authorizer

Under Maine law, the charter school authorizer takes the first step in the formation of a charter school by issuing a request for proposals that outlines the authorizer's vision for the school.

Any nonprofit, non-religious organization not currently associated with a school is eligible to file an application in response to the request.

The authorizer:

  • Approves an application to form a charter school based on criteria consistent with nationally recognized standards for charter school authorizers.
  • Negotiates the terms of the charter contract with the school's founding organization. The contract should specify the authorizer's performance expectations.
  • Oversees the performance of the charter school and monitors the charter school's compliance with the terms of its charter and with state and federal laws.
  • Collects, analyzes and reports to the Department of Education results from state-required assessments taken by the charter school's students.
  • Notifies the charter school of any perceived problems and areas where improvement is needed, and provides the school a reasonable opportunity to remedy those problems.
  • Decides whether to renew a charter school's contract upon its expiration.

Authorizers in Maine

Maine's public charter school law allows two types of entities to authorize charter schools:

  • Charter School Commission. The Maine Charter School Commission consists of seven members appointed by the State Board of Education. Three of the seven are members of the State Board. The Charter School Commission can authorize a maximum of 10 charter schools throughout the state during the first 10 years of Maine's public charter school law.
  • School Boards. Local school boards can authorize charter schools within the boundaries of their school units. Groups of school boards can act together to authorize charter schools.

Funding of Authorizers

To cover the costs of overseeing public charter schools, Maine law allows the authorizer to reserve up to 3 percent of the annual, per-pupil allocations allotted to the charter schools under its purview. The authorizer can also use its own resources to cover the costs of overseeing public charter schools.

Resources for Charter School Authorizers

Maine Resources

National Resources