Four charter schools in the city were granted expansions by the state on Wednesday afternoon creating 1,479 new seats.
Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology was given the biggest expansion with 516 seats. John P. Holland Charter School was given 375 additional seats. The Paterson Arts and Science Charter School received a 357-seat expansion. Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson secured a 231-seat expansion.
Ali Riza Gurcanli, lead person of the Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology, said his school has received 1,445 admission applications for a lottery scheduled for next Thursday. He said new admissions will gradually fill the 516 new seats his K-12 school secured.
Gurcanli’s school had an enrollment of 1,068 students in 2016-17 school year. With the approved expansion the school will have 1,584 students.
“This approval will allow PCSST to gradually increase its enrollment, grade-by-grade, in order to address the growing demand for enrollment at our school. The Commissioner’s approval also allow’s PCSST to open a new satellite campus, giving even more Paterson students access to the public school option of their choice,” said Gurcanli. He said the gradual expansion will be completed by 2020.
The Paterson Arts and Science Charter School has been approved for expansion to high school grades. The school had 540 students in K-8 grades with the expansion it will have 897 students in K-12.
Both schools were approved for expansion as part of their five-year charter renewal. The other two charter schools applied for expansions through an amendment process outside of their renewal.
John P. Holland Charter School will go from 201 students in K-8 to 576 in PK-8. Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson will go from 54 students in kindergarten to 285 in K-3.
“Many parents continue to choose to send their children to public charter schools, and we remain committed to being responsive to their calls for increased opportunities for their children,” said acting education commissioner Kimberley Harrington.
Charter schools have come under criticism in Paterson for taking millions of dollars from the local school district’s budget. Critics of charter schools say when students move to charter schools much of the fixed cost remain with the school district.
“I’m opposed to charters taking money out of our budget,” said school board member Emanuel Capers. He said he is in favor of competition in education, but dislikes the fact that $34 million from the district’s budget is sent to the city’s charter schools.
In all, the New Jersey Department of Education granted expansion as part of the renewal process for 7 charter schools and 15 expansions through the amendment process.
Other approved expansions through renewal were:
- Englewood on the Palisades Charter School in Englewood from K-6, 252 to K-8, 324
- Hope Community Charter School in Camden from K-4, 330 to K-5, 330
- Jersey City Global Charter School in Jersey City from K-5, 480 to K-6, 480
- Jersey City Golden Door Charter School in Jersey City from PK-8, 549 to PK-8, 720.
- Philip’s Academy Charter School in Newark from K-8, 378 to PK-12, 816.
Expansion through amendment approved were:
- Central Jersey College Prep Charter School in New Brunswick, North Brunswick, and Franklin from K-2, 6-12, 480 to K-12, 1,320.
- Environment Community Opportunity Charter School in Camden from K-5, 330 to K-7, 320
- Great Oaks Legacy Charter School in Newark from PK-12, 1,536 to PK-12, 2,517
- Hatikvah International Academy Charter School in East Brunswick from K-7, 400 to K-8, 500
- Hope Academy Charter School in Asbury Park from K-8, 207 to K-8, 253
- Hudson Arts and Science Charter School in Jersey City, Kearny from K-5, 360 to K-8, 1,021
- M.E.T.S. Charter School in Jersey City, Newark from 6-12, 560 to 6-12, 960
- Millville Public Charter School in Millville from K-7, 313 to K-10, 567
- Pace Charter School of Hamilton from K-5, 255 to K-6, 405
- Passaic Arts and Science Charter School in Passaic City from K-10, 860 to K-12, 1,021
- Princeton Charter School in Princeton from K-8, 348 to K-8, 424
- University Heights Charter School in Newark from PK-8, 750 to PK-8, 1,125
- Vineland Public Charter School in Vineland from PK-9, 452 to PK-10, 576.
22 charter schools were up for renewal this year. The state renewed 21 and opted against renewing the Camden Community Charter School due to low academic performance.
The state is closing three — Newark Prep Charter School; Merit Preparatory Charter School; and Paulo Freire Charter School — low-performing Newark charter schools that were on probation.
The four schools — Pierce Academy: A Personalized Learning Charter School of Jersey City; Albert Einstein EnergySmart Charter School of Old Bridge; Nikola Tesla EnergySmart Charter School of Perth Amboy; and Reach Charter School of Clifton — invited to phase two of the application process as part of the October expedited charter application round did not receive approval for failing to meet the requirements of the state’s approval process.
The state closed 20 lowest performing charter schools since 2010 for poor academics, organization, or fiscal issues.
“All New Jersey public schools, which include charter schools, must be held to a high standard in order to ensure that all of our children receive the quality educational experiences they deserve,” said Harrington. “These decisions reflect this Administration’s continued commitment to hold low-performing charter schools accountable, while expanding access for New Jersey families to high-quality charter schools.”