Agenda: New Charter School Regulations Finally Unveiled

State board to take first look at Christie’s deregulation proposal; NJ Teacher of Year also to be announced

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016

Time: 10 a.m.

Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

Charter schools, unregulated: Gov. Chris Christie in a speech in May pledged he would move to provide more flexibility for the state’s charter schools. Five months later, the state board will finally see the administration’s proposals on Wednesday, a mix of both significant and technical amendments. The board will also announce the annual award of the New Jersey Teacher of the Year, a selection from 21 county award winners. And this will be the first formal meeting for the state’s new interim education commissioner, Kimberley Harrington, who last month replaced outgoing commissioner David Hespe.

Teacher certification relaxed: The Christie administration is proposing a host of changes to the charter regulations. One of the more significant is a pilot program to loosen the state’s certification rules for charters in hiring teachers and administrators, providing a kind of new “alternate route.” The move is sure to draw the scrutiny of the New Jersey Education Association and district advocates who have pressed for their own relaxation of the rules.

Charter real estate: Another proposal would provide charter schools the right to first refusal for excess district school buildings. At a time when districts like Newark and Camden are shrinking in enrollment, the move is sure to fuel tensions over the growth of charters in those districts and whether it is on the backs of the districts that host them.

Fiscal accountability: The State Board will get a second look at the new fiscal accountability regulations mandating how schools keep their books and manage their funds. But left out of the mix so far is any changes to the existing and controversial regulations over superintendent pay, with the Christie administration not yet showing its hand with two months to go before the current rules expire.

More routine: The State Board will also hear presentations on several pieces of administrative code, but largely to readopt existing regulations rather than make changes. One notable exception is the code for the state’s interdistrict choice program, a much-debated regulation that allows students to cross district lines for their schools. The board will move to readopt the existing rules, while the debate continues. “The Department is continuing to assess the efficiency of the program and after a thorough review will propose any needed amendments,” according to the proposal’s summary.

Public testimony: The board will hear public testimony at 2 p.m. on a wide range of topics, from the fiscal accountability rules to those for anti-bullying.

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