State OKs more charter schools



TRENTON – The state Department of Education said Friday that four new charter schools will open in September 2012, which will accommodate more than 2,100 additional students.

The schools are:

*Beloved Community Charter School, Jersey City, grades K-5, 720 students

*Knowledge A to Z Charter School, Camden, grades K-4, 400 students

*Regis Academy Charter School Cherry Hill, Lawnside, Somerdale, Voorhees Township, grades K-7, 450 students

*Trenton Scholars Charter School, Trenton, grades K-6, 567 students

“Charter schools serve a critical need in New Jersey not only by providing high-quality options for students where they otherwise do not exist, but also by serving as laboratories of innovation,” DOE Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said in a statement. “As we look to 2012, we are confident that these four schools, along with those currently preparing to open in 2012 and a projected large applicant pool for the fall expedited round, will help to expand the options for students and ensure that all students in New Jersey, regardless of zip code, are on track to graduate from high school ready for college and career.”

The state Charter Schools Office follows various best practices identified by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), which include setting goals for students, having a curriculum that has proved to be successful, having experienced administration, a well-rounded board of trustees, and putting in place various programs.

Cerf said the DOE said will continue to conduct a “readiness review” to ensure that the approved charter schools have the necessary academic and operational resources before they open.

“Through our rigorous review process, we became confident that these four schools will offer students a great education on day one of the school year,” he said.

Earlier this month, Christie urged state legislators to pass many of his proposed education reforms to the New Jersey charter law to strengthen and expand high quality charter schools in New Jersey by improving the authorizing and application process, encouraging more charter school applicants, creating greater flexibility with administration and finances, and allowing districts to convert failing public schools into charters.

This year the Department also approved the expansion of several of the state’s highest performing charter schools. TEAM Academy, a network of KIPP schools in Newark, will add a new elementary school campus, ultimately serving 500 additional students. North Star Academy, also in Newark, will continue to grow current schools and plans to add a new elementary and middle school campus, ultimately serving 590 new students.

Not everyone sees the opening of new charter schools as a great thing.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), of South Orange, who has sponsored a bill that would require a voter referendum to take place in the towns where charter schools want to set up, said she was “concerned” about the high number that have already opened.

“This is yet another reason why we need to let the voters decide when and where they want to see charter schools developed in their community,” Jasey said on Friday.

Her bill, A-3852, passed the Assembly in June, but has yet to be taken up in the Senate. State OKs more charter schools