Twelve Finalists Clear First Round of Application Reviews for Charter Schools

John Mooney | June 25, 2014 | Education
Successful applicants not concentrated in larger cities, where charter movement has made strong inroads

Department of Education Building
Twelve charter school applications have made it to the second round of the state’s review process, a significant reduction from the original roster of nearly 40.

The state released the names of the 12 finalists this week, including two new schools each for Plainfield and Bridgeton, and one startup apiece for Lakewood and Elizabeth.

Final applications will be submitted in July, and the next round of reviews will include interviews of the applicants. Schools will be notified in September if they have preliminary approval to open in the fall of 2015. Final charters are not granted until the summer before the school opens, after a final preparedness assessment.

Thirty-eight schools had initially applied in March, four of them disqualified as incomplete and one withdrawn, state officials said.

The list of those making it to the next round was largely devoid of New Jersey’s largest cities, where the charter school movement has made its deepest inroads, such as Newark and Jersey City.

Jersey City has one application on the list, but none of six initial Newark applications made it to the second round. Three initial applications for Camden and Paterson also didn’t make it to the second round.

This doesn’t mean the state is stepping back from those cities; a separate application cycle is reserved for larger and established charter organizations that have been the strongest force in urban areas.

The list of finalists also include a few proposals that have drawn early criticism, including ones in Bridgeton and Atlantic City that would be operated by a for-profit firm and one in Elizabeth operated by K12 Inc., the nation’s largest online education company.

The finalists are:

  • Regional-Pneuma Academy Charter School for Science, Health and Technology (serving Asbury Park and Neptune Township)
  • + Bridgeton Public Charter School (Bridgeton)

  • Centre Oak Charter School (Pemberton)
  • College Achieve Central Charter School (Plainfield and North Plainfield)
  • Cresthaven Academy Charter School (Plainfield)
  • Elizabeth Prep Charter School (Jersey City)
  • Empowerment Academy Charter School (Jersey City)
  • Equity Prep Charter School (East Orange, Irvington, Orange)
  • International Academy of Atlantic City Charter School (Atlantic City, Pleasantville)
  • International Academy of Greater Bridgeton Charter School (Bridgeton, Upper Deerfield, Fairfield)
  • Lakewood Academy Charter School (Lakewood)
  • Rising Star Preparatory Charter School (Trenton)