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6-10-13 GSCS on Charter bill A4177 Diegnan

GARDEN STATE COALITION OF SCHOOLS/GSCS 12-13-12

160 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608

Testimony before the Assembly Education Committee: A4177 Charter Schools – Discussion

Committee Room 11, Statehouse Annex June 10, 2013

A4177 Updates Charter Law; Establishes Review Board within the Dept. of Education

Good afternoon, my name is Lynne Strickland and I am Executive Director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.

GSCS welcomes the beginning of the discussion on the current ‘graying’ charter school law of 1995. It is past time to update this law and we thank Chairman Diegnan for thoughtfully reaching out to so many interested parties and for getting this ball rolling at last.

There are a number of positive elements of the bill, a few are:

Local decision-making is a key approval factor

The law tightens up many aspects of the charter school program and will serve to tighten up the regulatory process as well. Some of the elements include more effective timelines, oversight and accountability, transparency, attention to student demographics, more requisite information during application process, annual guidance documentation and minimum performance framework, and also

requires higher-level fiscal responsibility; adjusts the local per pupil tax levy to a match a district revised budget after voter defeat of that budget; establishes a workable, tighter process for non-renewal and revocation of a charter school; and applies QSAC review to charters as well as traditional public schools in this bill.

On some of the issues:

The Review Board, given the specific nature regarding the experiences and qualities of t he appointments to the Board, has a good chance of being successful. GSCS has stated on prior occasions that authorization and oversight belong in the Department of Education, but it is important

The Commissioner’s recent decision to not approve virtual charter schools for 2013-2014 is a gift of time that enables in-depth analysis on this issue that concerns many. GSCS, however, is supportive of blended learning and also looks forward to what research reveals regarding learning and environment for students in virtual schools.

GSCS is very concerned that the funding of charters is not included in this bill. And, while we understand and do not necessarily disagree with the Chairman that the timing is very difficult to confront funding now, we also believe that until funding is addressed a positive sentiment towards charters in general will be stymied.

Thank you for your time, we look forward to continuing to work with the Chairman and the Committee to see this important legislation is effective and helps all our public school students.

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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