Charter school for grades 6-12 proposed in Portland

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PORTLAND — A Colorado Springs, Colo.-based nonprofit has proposed opening the city’s second charter school next year, according to a letter of intent filed with the Maine Charter School Commission last week.

The grade 6-12 school, called Adventures in Learning Career Academies, would be formed by Adventures in Learning k-12, a company that has provided “developmental and intervention literary skills development instruction and curriculum on an individual basis” in Missouri, Texas and Colorado, according to its letter to the commission.

The school would focus on career training and college-preparatory work. It would have three “academies” with specific interests: business, health care, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM).

It would offer career-technical courses alongside traditional academic courses. The school would also host partnerships with businesses and post-secondary education institutions, according to the letter.

A business advisory board, which would be comprised of representatives from the local employment services community, universities, and school faculty and administrators, would direct curriculum.

In its first year it projects having 100 sixth-grade students in five sections of 20. The plan is to add 100 students every year until 2019, when enrollment will be capped at 600 students, according to the letter.

Adventures in Learning was formed in 1999 by Delia Armstrong-Busby and began as a dropout intervention program for at-risk high school students in Colorado, Armstrong-Busby said.

The organization also provides tutoring and has worked as an education contractor for schools, she said.

And although the nonprofit formed in Colorado, the proposed charter school in Portland would be its first.

Armstrong-Busby filed the letter of intent after the Maine Department of Education sent out a request for proposals. Shed did not necessarily select Maine for any specific reason, she said.

“I think when I look at the charter school movement, that it’s a good opportunity for a different way of running schools,” Armstrong-Busby said. “It’s got it’s own board and it can represent a community or neighborhood in unique ways.”

Charter schools are funded in part by state funding that follows students from the traditional public school districts where those students would have otherwise been enrolled.

Maine currently has five charter schools. Three of them opened this year, including Baxter Academy for Science and Technology in Portland.

In addition to the proposed Portland charter school, six other groups also filed letters of intent with the commission: Birches Montessori School for deaf and hard of hearing students and their hearing peers, serving students in central Maine; Inspire ME Academy in the Sanford-Springvale area; Lewiston-Auburn Academy Charter School; Maine Connections Academy and Maine Virtual Academy, a statewide virtual school; and Many Hands Montessori School in Windham.

The schools must submit full applications by Dec. 2. State law allows the  commission to approve up to 10 schools in 10 years.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.