Nine charter schools OK’d to open

TRENTON – Gov Chris Christie has long called for more charter schools as part of his education reform plan, and he’s getting them.

The state Department of Education said Tuesday it has approved nine charter schools to open in September.

In addition to the nine schools that are opening, another 13 schools were granted a planning year during which they will continue to develop the academic and operational components of the school, which are crucial to ensuring that it will be successful when it opens the following year, according to the Education Department. 

The approved schools are:

*City Invincible Charter School in Camden;

*Knowledge A to Z Charter School in Camden;

*Thomas Edison Energy Charter School in Franklin Township (including the Somerset section), North Brunswick, and South Brunswick;

*Beloved Charter School in Jersey City;

*Merit Preparatory of Newark Charter School in Newark;

*Newark Prep in Newark;

*Paulo Freire Charter School in Newark;

*100 Legacy in Newark and Irvington; and

*Benjamin Banneker School in Willingboro

Another 10 schools were not granted a planning year and will not receive a final charter because they failed to demonstrate sufficient progress towards readiness.

The state now has 86 charter schools.

The DOE has set up Performance Frameworks that set clear expectations and will serve as the basis for school evaluation, monitoring and intervention, the Department reported. Among the things it looks for in charter applications are whether the school is an academic success; whether it is financially viable; and whether the school is equitable and organizationally sound. 

“We are deeply committed to ensuring that every student in New Jersey has access to a high-quality public school option that is a good fit for them, no matter whether that is a district, charter, magnet, or vocational school,” Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf said in a statement. “We are confident that the charter schools we approved today will provide great options for the children of New Jersey.”

As part of the annual charter authorizing process, the Department of Education conducts a “preparedness review” to evaluate whether a charter applicant approved in a previous round has the academic and operational capacity in place to offer a strong educational program. Applicants are required to submit compliance documents with state regulations to the DOE by June 30 — and staffers visit the school.

DOE then reviews information to determine which schools will open in September.

Schools will be assessed in a number of areas, such as how the school compares to similar “peer” schools; progress of individual subgroups of students and the school as a whole over time; whether the school is financially healthy and sustainable; whether the school has equitable admissions and enrollment practices to serve all students; and whether the school offers a safe and structured learning environment.

Since 2010, the DOE has opened 18 new schools, closed five schools for poor academic performance or organizational and fiscal issues, and put another 13 schools on probation.  Nine charter schools OK’d to open