Parents’ group backs voter input on charter schools

TRENTON – A grass-roots organization called for supporting two bills that would enable local voters to decide whether or not a charter school should open in a particular community.

Save Our Schools said the current charter school approval process is broken and needs revision, describing it as “completely secretive,” and done only by state officials as opposed to taxpayers who live in the districts where the schools would be set up. They said they don’t know who the charter school application reviewers are.

The members of Save Our Schools called for supporting bills S2243 and S3001. The first bill would “require voter approval at the annual school election or by the board of school estimate prior to the establishment of a charter school.” The Senate bill’s primary sponsors include Barbara Buono, (D-18), Methuchen, and Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Plainsboro.

Lorraine Carapellucci of Cherry Hill said the approval process is “biased in favor of the applicant. No public input at all.”

“There was no groundswell to open a charter school (in Cherry Hill),” she testified before the Senate Education Committee. “A charter school has been thrust upon us.”

She estimated that $1.9 million of Cherry Hill school tax revenue is going toward a charter school, leaving less money to keep public school teachers.

Carapellucci said the school district can’t just make up the lost funds “by cutting back on photocopies.”

“The taxpayers are outside the window looking in and the blinds are drawn.”

Parents from Monmouth Junction, East Brunswick and Highland Park expressed similar concerns.

In Highland Park, some $352,000, or the equivalent of the salaries of six teachers, were diverted from that school district’s budget to send 23 students to a local charter school.

 

Parents’ group backs voter input on charter schools