Citing a “broken and unaffordable” education system and lengthy waiting lists for charter schools, Governor Chris Christie announced proposed regulatory changes charter schools that the Governor argues would provide ‘greater flexibility in hiring staff and better access to high quality facilities.’ The announcement was made at the New Jersey Charter School’s Conference in Atlantic City where Christie keynoted.
Christie indicated that the proposals were developed after he met with charter school leaders and asked ‘what barriers were holding them back.’
“All of these ideas came from you,” Christie said Thursday.
In addition to announcing these regulatory changes, the Governor also indicated that he would any bills that ‘stick it’ to charter schools.
Video Excerpts from Speech
The proposal would:
- Give charter schools a chance to develop and propose their own standards for teacher certifications; and
- Allow schools to hire chief financial officers who are certified public accountants (CPA) but do not possess business administrator certification to serve in charter schools.
The proposal also includes ‘enhanced administrative flexibility”:
- Allowing ‘high performing charters’ the ability to access an expedited renewal process;
- Removing review of corrective action plans by Executive County Superintendents as they are submitted to the NJDOE Charter Office; and
- Relaxing funding monitoring requirements.
In addition, several enrollment proposals were announced. These include:
- Granting permission for weighted charter school lotteries that give economically disadvantaged students higher odds of winning admission;
- Allowing single-gender charter schools; and
- Allowing single-purpose charter schools (e.g. a school dedicated to serving students high-school age or older who need more than four years to graduate.
Further, the proposal would require all State-operated districts to offer leases to charter schools for any available, unused facilities in the district. In addition, the proposal would require ALL districts to report to the NJDOE, on a rolling basis, any closed, unused or unoccupied school facility available for lease so that the Department could post the information online in order to facilitate cooperation between districts and charter schools.
Moreover, the proposal calls for modification of current regulation as it relates to charter ‘satellite campuses’ to allow charter schools in all districts to ‘take advantage of available facilities that might be situated further from the main school.’ In addition, the proposal would allow charter leases to exceed the length of the charter (charter schools would still be subject to a requirement in leases that terminates contracts upon the denial, revocation, non-renewal, or surrender of the charter). Lastly, the proposed regulations would allow charter school to apply for public funds for renovation, expansion and reconstruction of their facilities.
The proposed reforms will need to be approved by the state Board of Education. It is expected they may proposed at the upcoming June State Board meeting by the Administration. NJPSA will keep you posted as the proposal moves forward.