PROPOSED NEW PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL REGULATIONS PROVIDE AUTONOMY WHILE MAINTAINING OVERSIGHT TO ENSURE HIGH-QUALITY SCHOOLS

Hamilton, NJ October 5, 2016 – New Jersey’s public charter school regulations are getting a facelift with proposed regulatory changes under Governor Chris Christie. Based on twenty years of public charter history in New Jersey, the Administration’s proposal includes language to amend three key areas: single-purpose public charter schools, facilities, and operational flexibility.

“New Jersey’s public charter schools already have a tremendous level of accountability and oversight,” said Nicole D. Cole, Esq., President and CEO of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association. “If approved, these regulatory changes will permit our schools to serve a broader range of students, grant schools access to facilities for their students, and add more accountability on the part of the authorizer to increase transparency for all stakeholders, especially parents. We’re very excited to see the process under way. It is long overdue.”

“It is an exciting move to see these regulatory changes go before the State Board of Education,” said Paul Josephson, Board President of the Princeton Charter School. “Public charter schools face more scrutiny than any other public school in the state. Expanding autonomy for public charter schools’ access to facilities; ability to educate specific populations of underserved students; and, increasing the applicant pool of qualified educators is necessary so the public charter school community may continue improving access to a high-quality education for thousands of students across the state.”

The Department of Education is taking an important step towards strengthening its authorization process with the proposed regulatory changes. If approved, New Jersey’s public charter school climate will improve with greater autonomy provided to schools balanced by greater accountability and transparency to the Department of Education and taxpayers of New Jersey. Public charter schools are the most highly accountable public schools in the state where the possibility of closure is the ultimate measure of accountability. Under the proposed regulations, charter schools will see increased accountability in several areas, including:

Public Reporting

The DOE will publicly report on each public charter school’s performance based on the Performance Framework (6A:11-2.2).

Facility Construction

A public charter school may use State and local funds for the rehabilitation or expansion of a facility, which is defined as an addition to an existing school facility characterized by an increase in the school facility’s gross square footage (6A:11-4.17).

Certification

A five-year pilot public charter certification program will be established for teachers, SBAs, and administrators (6A:9B-11.12). This regulation will allow public charter schools access to a larger qualified applicant pool to ensure students are served by the most qualified individual in the best interest of the student and the continued renewal of the school.

Demographics

  • A school may be approved that seeks to limit enrollment to a specific population of educationally disadvantaged or traditionally underserved students. The application must demonstrate a compelling need (6A:11-2.12). This component will permit schools to serve specific student populations such as those who are over-age and under-credited.
  • A charter school may request approval to establish a weighted lottery (6A:11-2.6), a random selection process that provides additional weight or increased chances to individual students who are identified as a part of a specified set of educationally disadvantaged students but does not reserve or set aside seats for individual students or sets of students.

The regulations introduced today will be considered over the next several months. If the regulations move forward, they could be adopted as early as June 2017.

About New Jersey Charter Schools Association

The New Jersey Charter Schools Association (NJCSA) is a statewide association representing the state’s charter sector. New Jersey is home to 88 charter schools, serving nearly 50,000 children. NJCSA was formed in 1999 and today is charged with advancing a quality public education for New Jersey’s children through quality public charter schools. Our vision is that every child in the State of New Jersey has the opportunity to attend a high quality public school that best meets his or her needs. For more information, visit www.njcharters.org.

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PROPOSED NEW PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL REGULATIONS PROVIDE AUTONOMY WHILE MAINTAINING OVERSIGHT TO ENSURE HIGH-QUALITY SCHOOLS