Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester announced this month that he intends to renew the charter of the Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School through 2017.
Charter schools, unlike other public schools, have increased accountability in exchange for increased autonomy, and thus must be renewed by the state every five years.
The school submitted an application for renewal to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in July and hosted a three-day inspection visit in October.
Site visitors interviewed school leaders, the board of trustees, teachers, parents, and students. They also observed numerous classes, and examined school documents and submitted a report to the department summarizing the school's condition.
According to a memo Chester submitted to the department, the school "has established a program that is faithful to its charter."
Chester wrote that he academic program has shown improvement over the term of the charter, with high rates of proficiency in English Language Arts, and improvement overall in mathematics.
"Additionally, the organizational viability of the school has improved and stabilized during the current charter term," Chester wrote.
McAuliffe Executive Director Kristin Harrison said the staff has worked hard over the past five years to establish McAuliffe as an outstanding learning environment for middle school students, and that she is very pleased state leaders intend to renew the charter for another five years.
"We have big plans for the next five years including expanding the size of the school, possibly adding a fifth grade, and acquiring a facility of our own," Harrison said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to working with community leaders to ensure that MetroWest becomes known as the hub of innovative education in Massachusetts."
As of Jan. 18,, the school received over double the number of lottery applications submitted this time last year: there were 170 applicants in January, compared to 76 applicants last January.
The March 15 public lottery will determine families that attend McAuliffe next year. Admission is open to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students.
According to Massachusetts charter school law, preference goes to families with children currently attending the school. After that, students from the eight regional districts - Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Natick, Southborough, and Sudbury - will be drawn at random by a neutral party.
When all seats are filled, the regional, and then non-regional, applicants will be drawn at random to build a waitlist. The school will accept applicants off the waitlist as openings arise.
McAuliffe opened in 2002 as the Framingham Community Charter School, with its last renewal in 2007. As of November, 269 students were enrolled at the school, while the charter currently allows the institution to accept up to 306 pupils, according to Chester's summary report.
To learn more about the school, visit www.mcaulifferegional.org.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org