Q: What is Map Academy?
A: Map Academy is a new Commonwealth Charter school in Plymouth, MA that serves students for whom traditional school did not work. The idea for Map Academy grew from our work as leaders of Plymouth Public Schools alternative high school programs. Despite best efforts, too many young people were still being left behind. Our work with students in Plymouth has informed every aspect of Map Academy. We will open in September 2018, and are currently enrolling students here.
Q: Where will the school be located?
A: We are exploring a number of potential locations. As we determine a permanent location for the school, we will do so in consideration of a number of factors. First, we consider areas of density of our target student population. Second, because Map Academy’s model relies on partnerships with community-based organizations, we will look for opportunities for co-location in areas that make sense for this kind of arrangement. Additionally, maximizing public transit access is a priority for us, in order to ensure that Map Academy students and families have as few barriers to reaching the school as possible. Our goal is to be located in North Plymouth with easy access to Quincy College at Plymouth, our postsecondary partner. The education campus currently proposed for North Plymouth is our ideal location, but it remains to be seen whether cost and timing considerations will allow for it.
Q: Why open in 2018?
A: Starting a new school from the ground up is a massive undertaking. We are thankful for the funding to plan for our 2018 opening as we move from design to implementation and launch. In addition to preparing all aspects of the academic program, there are countless operational and logistical components of a school which we need to establish, including facility, staffing, transportation, food services, and others. We look forward to welcoming our first group of students.
Q: How are you going to recruit students?
A: Map Academy is a regional charter school serving Plymouth, Wareham, and Carver. But as a Commonwealth charter school any student in Massachusetts can apply. Preference will be given to students who reside in our designated region of Plymouth, Wareham, and Carver. We are committed to intentional and targeted recruitment to ensure that the seats at Map Academy are filled by our target population—students who have not been successful in traditional environments.
Q: Why is the school called Map Academy?
A: The school’s name was inspired by an actual map depicting the extent of the challenge Plymouth faces with young people dropping out of school. The map illustrated the increasing demand for alternative high school programs. We wanted to create a space where these students, for whom the traditional system did not work, could find their way. By providing a different pathway to a high school diploma and beyond for students who are not successful in traditional high school environments, Map will provide individualized roadmaps and put students back on the path to success.
Q: How is Map Academy governed?
A: As public agents authorized by the state, the members of the board of trustees of a charter school are responsible for governing the school and hold the charter for the school. The Board of Trustees will oversee the implementation and status of the school’s policies and procedures, serve as a fiduciary agent, and hold the school’s Co-Directors responsible for successfully operating the school, meeting school goals, and providing state-of-the-school reports at Board meetings.
Q: Where will Map Academy’s teachers come from?
A: Like any opening for a teaching position at any public school, Map Academy will manage a professional recruitment and hiring process for all interested and qualified applicants. Map Academy recognizes that to strengthen and sustain the student-centered culture we strive for, we must recruit teachers that are not only highly qualified, but equally committed and passionate about the success of every student.
Q: When will you add additional staff?
A: We are currently seeking experienced, passionate educators to be part of our founding team on a volunteer basis with potential for stipended opportunities during our planning year and a range of full time positions beginning as we get closer to launch. If you are interested in joining the Map Academy team in this capacity, please click here and tell us about yourself. We will be ramping up the recruitment and hiring process as we head into the winter and spring of 2018.
Q: Does this school compete with other public schools?
A: No. Map Academy represents an alternative educational model designed to cater to youth for whom the traditional model has not worked, and intends to cooperate, rather than compete with, sending districts. Map Academy has the endorsement of Plymouth Public Schools’ central administration and School Committee. When students on the South Shore are on the verge of walking away from school, they have extremely limited options. In our catchment area of Plymouth, Carver, and Wareham, 430 students dropped out of the cohorts of 2011-2015. Map Academy will serve as a mutually beneficial option for the region’s most vulnerable youth, and will meet a district and regional need.
Q: What is the long-term vision for Map Academy?
A: We know that our students face a variety of challenges that can serve as barriers to success in school. Our vision is to provide the supports necessary to help navigate those challenges. Eventually, we hope to offer a residential option that will provide stable housing to those students who lack it. We also know there is demand for alternative approaches to high school like Map Academy, particularly options specifically designed to meet the unique needs of off-track youth. We have deliberately designed a model that can be replicated. Our vision is to bring the Map Academy model to other communities.
Q: Where does Map Academy’s funding come from?
A: Charter schools are funded through a combination of sources in Massachusetts, including the state and the child’s home district, a cost that is largely reimbursed by the Commonwealth in the early years of the charter. For each child that a Commonwealth charter school enrolls, it receives a tuition amount from the state. Since the school is not yet operational and thus is not yet receiving per pupil tuition funding, the pre-operational budget is entirely grant-funded. We are fortunate to have received grants from the Barr Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to support this planning period.
Q: If the state funds charter schools, why are you raising money?
A: The ongoing operational budget for Map Academy will be sustained by per pupil funding allocations. Our growth plan is to expand our number of students from 130 in year one to 300 in year seven. This gradual expansion will allow us to ensure that we implement our model with fidelity and can provide all of the personalized supports each student needs to be successful. The budget generated by state per pupil funding alone means that key capacities needed to support such expansion must be phased in as well. Additional funding would support specific areas of need related to launch and growth.
Q: Who will manage Map Academy?
A: The school’s Co-Directors will manage all day-to-day operations of the school and will report directly to the Board, providing a link between the day-to-day operation of Map Academy and the policy work done at the Board level. The Co-Directors will be charged with the following responsibilities: managing school operations and finances; executing the recruitment, hiring, training, and evaluation of employees; providing instructional and cultural leadership; conducting public relations and outreach; overseeing student recruitment and enrollment; conducting resource development; and providing vision, leadership, and support for all fundraising and institutional advancement efforts. The Co-Directors will also support the Board’s work around strategic planning, policy development, budget, and fiscal performance. All other Map Academy staff members will report to the Co-Directors.