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Advocacy for Public Schools

CHARTER UPDATE…RECENT EVENTS

April 2013 - The Department of Education releases the list of 2013 Prospective Charter Schools Phase One;"  none of the schools on the list names Cherry Hill as a host district.

July 6, 2012 - The Superintendent receives notification from the Department of Education that the Commissioner has denied final approval for Regis Academy Charter School.  In a joint statement issued that afternoon, Dr. Reusche and BOE President Seth Klukoff said:  “The district's objections to this charter application have been well documented and we are glad that the Commissioner has decided not to grant final approval.” They also expressed gratitude to the many community members who supported the district’s efforts to have the preliminary approval overturned. Click HERE for the DOE's letter to Regis.

June 27, 2012 - Representatives from the Department of Education conduct the preparedness review of Regis Academy Charter School - not at the Evesham Road facility, from which the school and the Solid Rock Worship Center are facing eviction, but at a different facility at 202 Park Blvd.

June 21, 2012 - The NJ Assembly passes A3105, which places a 12-month moratorium on the establishment of virtual charter schools.  Similar legislation will be considered in the Senate this fall.

June 6, 2012 - The State Board of Education hears testimony from the public on proposed changes to charter school regulations, including an amendment that would eliminate the requirement that charter schools serve "contiguous" school districts – a move that opponents fear would result in widespread expansion of charters, particularly virtual charters, throughout the state. Many speakers noted the abysmal track record of virtual charter schools elsewhere in the U.S. and expressed concerns about the impact on the local districts that will bear the financial burden. Others criticized the proposed changes as “an attempt to circumvent the legislature and the will of New Jersey residents, who overwhelmingly support local democratic approval of new charter schools.” 

June 5, 2012 - The Courier-Post reports that the Interim Director of the DOE's Office of Charter Schools sent a letter to Regis Academy noting that "numerous issues and inaccuracies have been brought to our attention regarding the school's application and addenda" and requesting evidence or documentation to "help in reviewing the situation."

May 7, 2012 - The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, grants a motion from the Commissioner of Education for Remand. (The Commissioner lacked the jurisdiction to decide the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Cherry Hill because of appeals filed by Cherry Hill and Voorhees pending before the court.)

March 27, 2012 - The Board Solicitor files a motion on behalf of the Cherry Hill Board of Education requesting reconsideration of the Department of Education's determination to grant approval of the application of the Regis Academy Charter School. Click HERE to view the Letter Brief filed by the district.

March 17, 2012 – The Inquirer and Courier-Post report that Holy Eucharist Parish is initiating eviction proceedings against Solid Rock Worship Center over the Holy Rosary Church complex, future home of the Regis Academy Charter School. 

March 15, 2012 - The NJ Assembly passes A1877. The bill, which passed by a vote of 45-27, would apply retroactively to charter schools that have been approved but have not yet opened. The bill also requires local approval before a charter school can expand the number of grade levels or enlarge the region of residence. Finally, the bill would prohibit a charter school from enrolling a student who does not reside in the district of residence or region of residence specified in the charter.  A Senate version of the bill (S458), cosponsored by Senator Jim Beach, was introduced in January and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

February 28, 2012 – In response to an OPRA request for enrollment data, Regis Academy advises that, as of February 15, it has received 37 applications; five of the applicants are Cherry Hill residents.

February 28, 2012 – The NJ DOE Office of School Funding provides two versions of FY2012-2013 charter school aid projections for the Regis Academy Charter School. One version (for 186 students and a set-aside of $2,331,866) “apportions enrollment for the districts in the region of residence using the maximum students in the approved New Jersey Charter School Application pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-15.3.”  The second version, for 50 students and $608,825, “is based on enrollment data provided by the charter school.”

February 2012 – Senator Jim Beach, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, and Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt publish a piece entitled “Why We Don’t Support Regis Academy’s Plan.” Click HERE to view.

February 2012 – Dr. Reusche meets on several occasions in February with Senator Jim Beach and others to point out flaws in the charter approval and funding processes.

February 2, 2012 – Dr. Reusche testifies at the Assembly Education Committee hearings in support of A1877, legislation that would require local approval prior to the opening of a charter school.  (Prior to the committee hearings, thanks in part to the efforts of Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, the bill is amended to apply retroactively to charter schools that have been approved but have not yet opened.)  Click HERE to read Dr. Reusche’s testimony. 

January 19, 2012 – Dr. Reusche and Board of Education President Seth Klukoff meet with Acting Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf to discuss DOE decisions that impact district budgets, including issues and concerns related to the approval of charter schools.

January 18, 2012 – At a Town Hall meeting in Voorhees, Gov. Chris Christie reiterates his preference that charter schools be approved primarily in failing districts.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW EARLIER EVENTS IN THE CHRONOLOGY AND
TO ACCESS LINKS TO THE REGIS APPLICATION AND OTHER DOCUMENTS.

DON'T STOP NOW...

While the Regis Academy Charter School has been denied final approval, public school supporters must remain vigilant.  The decision to approve charter school applications rests entirely with the Acting Commissioner of Education.  The NJ Assembly has passed legislation (A1877) that would require local approval before the establishment of new charter schools.  The Senate version of the bill (S2243) is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.  We encourage our residents to join us in lobbying the Senate to fix New Jersey’s broken charter school law and bring local control to the charter school approval process.

Contact State Senator Jim Beach, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and members of the Senate Education Committee; let them know that our community, not the NJDOE, should decide if a charter school will open in Cherry Hill. 

Sign the petition at: http://www.change.org/petitions/new-jersey-communities-want-local-control-over-new-charter-schools-2

Each signature generates a letter to Senate President Sweeney and the members of the Senate Education Committee.

You can also contact the Senators directly:

  • Senator Jim Beach: (856) 429-1572
  • Senate President Steve Sweeney: (856) 251-9801
  • Senate Education Committee (2012)
    • Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Chair: (973) 484-1000
    • Senator Shirley Turner, Vice Chair: (609) 530-3277
    • Senator Diane Allen: (609) 239-2800
    • Senator Jim Beach
    • Senator Michael Doherty:  (908) 835-0552

Click HERE for Frequently Asked Questions about charter schools.

Other Resources:

Relevant pending legislation:

  • S458 (S2243 last session) which requires local approval before the establishment of a new charter school (an amended version of this bill, A1877, was passed by the Assembly in March)
  • A2147 (bill A3356/S3001/3005, which improves charter school financial and educational transparency and accountability and helps ensure that charter school students represent their sending districts

Following are links which present different perspectives on the charter school issue:


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