When Gov. Chris Christie leaves office in six months, one of his clear legacies will be the growth of charter schools in New Jersey, with school enrollment more than doubling in his eight years in office.
Yesterday, his administration finished the job, announcing the final approval of five more schools to open this fall. That brings to 89 the number of charters that will be open when Christie steps down in January.
That number isn’t that big an increase from the 70 in place in 2010 at the start of Christie’s tenure, a number that jumped to over 90 in his first year. But his administration ultimately closed nearly 20 charter schools as well.
Nevertheless, there will be close to 50,000 students enrolled in charters this fall, according to the state, up from less than 25,000 when he took office. More than 56,000 seats will be authorized with the latest approvals.
“By expanding public school options for families, we are ensuring that more New Jersey children have access to the high-quality education they deserve,” said Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington in announcing the five new schools yesterday.
Technically, Christie’s administration is not done just yet in terms of the application process going forward. It is currently reviewing more than a dozen applications from March for opening in 2018, and another round of fresh applications is due in October.
But even if all pass, those approvals will be preliminary until next summer, and any that get the go-ahead — or rejection — will be under the next administration’s watch.
The five new schools announced yesterday to open in the fall were:
Achieve Community Charter School, Newark, opening as K-1, growing to K-4.
College Achieve Greater Asbury Park Charter School, Asbury Park/Neptune, opening as K-1 and grades 5-6, and growing to K-9.
College Achieve Paterson Charter School, Paterson, opening as K-1 and grades 5-6, and growing to K-9.
LEAD Charter School, Newark, opening and staying as grades 9-12.
Ocean Academy Charter School, opening as K-2, and growing to K-5.