NJ Charter School Awarded Grants — and Can’t Open

Four charter schools in New Jersey have been awarded start-up grants despite not being given permission to open

One of four fledgling New Jersey charter schools awarded $785,000 in federal grants to help finance start-up costs has not yet received approval from the state to operate, writes Jessica Calefati at the Star Ledger.

Last week, the state Department of Education denied Tikun Olam’s application to open a Hebrew-language immersion high school in Highland Park, despite awarding $200,000 to the Friends of Tikun Olam.

Last spring, the school stirred controversy in Highland Park, where parents, teachers and legislators rallied to have its application blocked, writes Calefati. They were concerned that the unproven charter school would route money away from Highland Park’s high performing public schools.

The state has already denied the school’s application three times, but they are able to re-apply for a charter by a mid-October deadline.

The other three charter schools awarded funding include Bright Horizon Charter School in Penns Grove, Shalom Academy Charter School in Teaneck and Spirit Preparatory Charter School in Newark.

These new charter schools have all received state approval and are scheduled to open in 2012. Each school received between $186,000 and $200,000.

Overall, the U.S. DOE handed out $4,792,526 to help 23 new charter elementary and high schools open their doors in 11 states, writes the Ridgewood blog.

This all comes after about 100 people from across New Jersey showed up at Bartle Elementary School for the rally organized by Save Our Schools in June this year. Save Our Schools was a grassroots nonprofit organization focused on issues surrounding public education, writes Spencer Israel at New Brunswick Patch.

The rally drummed up support for the issue of charter school reform.

“We’re coming together to urge our legislators to stop stalling and act on two excellent bills that have been put forward to fix our broken charter school laws in New Jersey,” said Melanie McDermott, a Save Our Schools member and organizer of the rally.

“We vote on school budgets, we pay the taxes, and we feel like we should have a say on whether or not we can afford a new school in our district.”

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