Brunswick board ponders creation of charter school
BRUNSWICK — The School Board will discuss on Oct. 23 whether it wants to pursue establishing a charter school in collaboration with a local entrepreneur.
If the board ultimately decides to move forward, it could create the first charter school authorized by a public school district in Maine. So far, the only charter schools in the state have been authorized by the Maine Charter School Commission.
The proposal emerged Wednesday night while the board considered ways to give town schools a competitive edge, including forming sister-school agreements and recruiting students in China.
Board member Chris McCarthy has been heading charter school discussions with an ad hoc committee since April. He said the Oct. 23 workshop will give other board members a sense of the work that needs to be done in the months ahead.
The board will then have to decide at a future meeting whether it wants to continue pursuing the project.
McCarthy said the idea is to help plan and implement a charter school focused on International Baccalaureate education in partnership with John Stadler, who co-owns Tao Yuan Restaurant and founded one of the first charter schools approved in Massachusetts.
While the school would create opportunities for high school students from within the district, it would also attempt to attract students from other countries who want a jump-start on college-level courses, McCarthy said.
McCarthy said Stadler is willing to front the capital needed to start the charter school, which could begin as a program within Brunswick High School and then grow into a separate entity.
There could also be potential federal grant funding, McCarthy said.
"It's hard to see if a concept is doable without doing enough planning to get there," he said. "It's also understood from the person who's looking to pony up some of the money and has brought it forward to say 'here's what we need to get to in order for me to invest in this concept.'"
In an April interview, Stadler said an international charter school could be a "huge potential money-maker" for the district, with most of the revenue coming from tuition-paying international students.
"And when you look at the financial opportunity here – if we can grow this the way we likely can – roughly half of those students will be tuition students from overseas," he said.