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Corzine wants to streamline creation of new charter schools

corzine051409_optGov. Jon Corzine Wednesday announced significant growth in both the number of New Jersey charter schools and the number of students.

Since 2006, the number of charter schools has increased by 34 percent while student enrollment rose almost 55 percent, the governor said in Paterson.

As a result, Corzine said he is recommending to the state Board of Education that a new process be adopted to expedite charter approvals. He said an expedited process would cut the approval process time from 18 months to about 11 months, allowing more charter schools to open within a shorter time frame.

"Community Charter School in Paterson mirrors the growth that is occurring at charter school throughout the state," Corzine said during a visit to the school. "I am proud of the work that is occurring at charter schools in New Jersey, as well as the work ongoing in many of our traditional public schools. Both our traditional public schools and our charter schools are preparing our students with the skills they will need to compete in the ever-evolving global economy and to secure a brighter economic future."

Corzine's action comes as a rival for the governor's post, Republican Chris Christie campaigns that he would allow for the opening of more charter schools and provide parents a choice on where to have their children educated.

Currently, there are 68 charter schools operating in the state. Six of these will open for the first time this month. Approximately 14,496 students attended charter schools in 2006. That number is projected to increase to more than 22,000 by October.

The Community Charter School opened last September. It was founded by the New Jersey Community Development Corporation and provides education for 350 kindergarten through third grade students. This year, the school has expanded to fourth grade and will serve 450 students.

"New Jersey is fortunate to have a number of charter schools that have been providing high-quality educational programs to children for nearly a decade," state Education Commissioner Lucille E. Davy said. "New Jersey should welcome people with a track record of success who want to open additional charter schools by providing an early decision process. The proposed application procedures will recognize the effective work of proven charter school operators but still give additional time to applicants who are new to the process."

Charter schools are public schools operated by a charter granted by the Department of Education. A charter school is open to all students on a space-available basis with preference being given to students who live nearby. All classroom teachers and professional support staff must hold appropriate state certification.

— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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