Charter school local control bill clears committee

A bill, A3852, that aims to place control over charter school establishment at the local level was passed in the Assembly Education Committee Monday. 

It would provide that the Commissioner not approve a charter school application in Type II districts (which have elected school boards) unless such establishment has been approved by that district’s voters. And for Type I districts, (which have appointed boards), the board of school estimate must approve its establishment.

Committee Chairman and sponsor Patrick Diegnan, (D-18), South Plainsfield, said this gets to the crux of the controversial issue, because without local input and control the charter school movement cannot succeed.

That sentiment was echoed by Julia Rubin of Save Our Schools N.J., who testified that unless local control exists, other charter school-related bills – such as the authorization expansion bill that passed in committee earlier – ultimately will not accomplish their goals.

She characterized New Jersey as a fringe state, out of step with the rest of the country, in the way it bars local input into charter school establishment.

Princeton Regional School Board President Rebecca Cox argued that charter schools – absent local control – are the classic example of taxation without representation.

Opposition to the bill came from such quarters as the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey. “The payment of premium property taxes has blossomed into the right to exclude,’’ said Patricia Bombelyn of the Alliance.

Opponents argued that transferring control over charter school approval and funding from the state to the local level places smaller, minority populations at risk and jeopardizes the independence of such schools.

Charter school local control bill clears committee