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Administration Reveals Which Charters Have Made the First Cut

John Mooney | December 13, 2011

More than half the applications weeded out, at least for now.

With every detail of its process under scrutiny, the Christie administration said yesterday that 17 of 42 applications for new charter schools in the state have made the first cut in the latest review, while the remainder have been eliminated, at least for now.

Included in the latter group were a couple of the more controversial proposals, including a plan for an online charter out of Teaneck that had caused a budget stir and protest in that Bergen County town. A second online proposal also fell short, as did the only two proposals this round for charters in Paterson.

But in taking the unusual step of releasing the list midway through the process, the administration disclosed that some other contentious plans remain in the running. They include language immersion schools in Essex and Middlesex counties, and a proposal for a Montclair charter school making its fifth try.

“In our review, we evaluated both the strength of the proposed educational program and the capacity of the founding team to implement that program,” said Justin Barra, the state Department of Education’s communications director. “Applicants that did not move on to the second stage of the process did not meet our review benchmarks in these areas.”

State officials said they released the list yesterday after those behind the Teaneck online proposal publicly announced their application had been eliminated. The plan had caused an uproar and a legal challenge in Teaneck after the state said the district needed to set aside $15 million in its 2012-2013 budget in case the school was approved.

The state will continue its review of the remaining applications over the next month, requesting additional information and in-person interviews from the schools still under consideration. Final approvals are to be announced January 17.

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