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Maine Commission Approves First Virtual Charter School

The Maine Charter School Commission approved the creation of Maine Connections Academy, what could be the state’s first virtual charter school.
According to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, the school could open as early as September 2014, but must first meet a series of conditions set by the commission. Those conditions include limitations on enrollment, a requirement to operate independently from its parent for-profit company, Connections Education. The school also must agree to hire a third-party evaluator to assess its ongoing relationship with its parent company.
Following the vote, Carol Weston, a board member at Maine Connections, appeared supportive of the conditions.
“A virtual school in Maine is brand new,” she said. “I think that those requirements are there to make sure that the kids in Maine succeed.”
The commission had twice denied previous applications for virtual charter schools in the state. The commission denied another virtual charter school application after it approved the one for Maine Connections Academy.
“Look across the whole country and there’s success, there’s failure,” Jana LaPoint, the commission’s chair, told reporters after the decision. “We’re trying to find that ground that says that we have something that’s good. And that we can oversee it.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Paul LePage, a supporter of virtual charter schools, vetoed a bill passed by the Maine legislature that would have placed a moratorium on all virtual charter programs until 2015, according to the Bangor Daily News. The Maine Senate sustained the veto 23-12.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration announced plans to fund at least a dozen yearlong fellowships that will place women in state managerial roles in an effort to increase mentorship opportunities for aspiring women executives, The Boston Globe reported in March. In addition to placing fellows in state managerial roles at full salary for a one-year period, the program also will offer seminars on a range of management issues. Officials hope to select and place fellowship recipients by September.
 
HUNTING RIGHTS
Landowners in Vermont will have more options to restrict hunting on their property under new regulations being implemented by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. According to the Burlington Free Press, the Vermont Constitution provides the right “to hunt and fowl” on unenclosed properties. Under previous regulations, property owners had the choice to either allow or prohibit hunters from using their land, but the new regulations will give landowners the option of allowing hunting by permission only.
 
E-CIGARETTES
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are not currently regulated in Connecticut, however Gov. Dannel Malloy hopes to change that, according to The Hartford Courant. Under Senate Bill 24, the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 would be prohibited. If passed, violators could face fines of $200 for the first offense and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. 
 
FOOD STAMPS
Data from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services show the number of the state’s residents receiving food stamps nearly tripled between 2003 and 2013 as the population grew only 14 percent, The News Journal of northern Delaware reported in March. Rates varied by county, with all Delaware counties experiencing an increase of at least 97 percent, and one county’s food stamp usage growing by 325 percent. Overall, the state’s food stamp enrollment grew by 196 percent from 2003 to 2013. National rates of food stamp recipients increased by 124 percent during that same timeframe.
 
INMATE EDUCATION
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hopes to revive a program to provide inmates with access to college classes in an effort to reduce recidivism rates, according to National Public Radio. Inmate education programs were eliminated nationally with the passage of a 1994 crime bill, but advocates argue providing educational opportunities to inmates could save money in the long run by reducing recidivism rates. Cuomo says he intends to fund a pilot program in 10 prisons across the state.
 
 
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