Just six new charter schools have been granted final approval by the Christie administration to open next fall, including the state’s first instance of a private school being converted to a charter.
The state Department of Education announced the six approved charters late Friday afternoon.
In doing so, the idea that the state is holding the alternative schools accountable was stressed almost as much as the notion that the state is promoting and supporting charter schools.
The new approvals bring the total to 87 charter schools operating statewide next fall.
"Accountability is important, and we have and will continue to hold every charter school accountable both for the quality of its educational program and for equality of access to all students," said state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf in announcing the approvals.
Two others that had been up for final approval were passed over, with one given another year and the other rejected outright. Both had been approved through the preliminary rounds, but needed final approval of facilities, budgets and other components to open in September.
Among those approved, Camden will see two new charter schools. The only final charter approved for Newark was the new Philip’s Academy Charter School, a conversion from the former St. Philip’s Academy, an independent private school. The K-8 school will serve Newark, Irvington and East Orange.
The other five approved, all elementary schools, are the following:
"We must hold a high bar for any school that serves New Jersey students, and we are confident that these schools have the academic and operational components in place to provide a high-quality choice on day one," Cerf said in the announcement. The two that did not win final charters were Charter School for Global Leadership in Camden and the Atlantic City Community Charter School in Atlantic City.
The Camden school was rejected outright, with the state writing its founders that they failed to meet facility requirements as well as not providing broader evidence of their capacity to lead and run a school.
“Based on these findings, Charter School for Global Leadership will not be granted a final charter,” read the letter from Evo Popoff, the assistant education commissioner who oversees charter schools.
The Atlantic City school was given another year to meet statutory and department requirements, the state said.
The addition of six new schools comes as leading state lawmakers increasingly say they wish to rewrite the state’s 18-year-old charter school law.
The Democratic chairs of both the Senate and Assembly education committees have both said they would press legislation in the coming months, although it is unclear if there will votes before the November elections.
Carlos Perez, executive director of the state’s charter schools association, said the addition of six new schools would benefit another 1,200 students who are looking for alternatives from district schools.
“More than 30,000 children are enrolled in charter schools in New Jersey, but another 20,000 remain on the wait list and these additional public charter schools will provide an opportunity for many of them to receive a high quality public school education,” Perez said.