Bangor Acts to Stop Charter Schools, after Failed Bid to Start 420- Student 'Queen City Academy'

Article excerpt

BANGOR, Maine -- Bangor city councilors will consider a citywide moratorium on charter schools, arguing that having one in the city would create unnecessary competition and put a financial strain on an already strong public school system.

The council will hold a first reading of the proposed moratorium during a special council meeting Monday night.

Earlier this year, an application to create a Queen City Academy charter school at the former site of the Bangor YMCA on Hammond Street was rejected by the Maine Charter School Commission because it didn't adequately explain how the plan would be financed.

The application, authored by construction company owner Murat Kilic of Revere, Mass., stated that the school would have "high expectations at the core of the education program. An extended learning program, tutoring opportunities, data-driven instructional programs, parent involvement and collaboration with the area universities and colleges will be important components of the school's program. Moreover, [Queen City Academy] will implement a character education program, provide a career-oriented college preparation program and ensure strong student-teacher-parent alliance."

The school projected it would serve 420 Bangor-area students in grades 6-12.

Kilic also serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett, Mass. He told the Portland Press Herald after the denial that he likely would reapply.

Gov. Paul LePage has been a strong proponent of charter schools, arguing that their presence would prompt public schools to improve performance to attract and retain students.

The Queen City charter school application trumpeted a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, offerings, including calculus courses. Bangor School Department Superintendent Betsy Webb said during a May Government Operations Committee meeting that she was perplexed by that claim, because Bangor's public schools have their own STEM academy and have been offering higher- than-average calculus courses for decades, she said. Bangor schools also offer similar partnerships with higher education institutions and technical schools.

At this point, charter schools have had little effect on Bangor's school system, but if a charter school were to set up shop in the city, it likely would pull public funds away from public schools, according to Webb. …