March 6, 2014 at 3:27 PM
EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The New Jersey Department Of Education has granted a new five-year extension to the Hatikvah Academy as a K-5 school in East Brunswick, but has denied the Charter School's request to expand into grades 6-8.
The DOE notified Hatikvah of the decision to deny the expansion, citing a decline in academic performance in the 2012-2013 school year as the primary reason for the denial of the expansion.
The denial is viewed as a victory for the supporters of the East Brunswick School District and the residents of East Brunswick. Many families in the district were staunchly opposed to the expansion plans, primarily due to the inability of Hatikvah to bring enough township students to the school, and having too large a student base being made up of students from outside of the township.
East Brunswick was still responsible for the initial budgetary support for the Charter School each year, and the proposed expansion into grades 6-8, coupled with the 2 percent budget increase caps the Christie Administration has imposed annually would have meant massive cuts throughtout the district in programs, simply to support Hatikvah.
The 18th District legislative team issued a statement earlier today in support of the decision, issuing the following statement:
Senator Peter Barnes, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan and Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin applauded the Department of Education’s decision to deny the application for expansion by Hatikvah International Academy Charter School to include a middle school while allowing the elementary school to remain.
"The Department of Education has denied Hatikvah International Academy Charter School’s application to expand. This was the right decision for the taxpayers of New Jersey and we applaud them for making this decision," said Barnes (D-Middlesex). "Their decision today would have meant a loss of staff, books and supplies for the East Brunswick Public School. Fortunately, the Department of Education ruled in the favor of those who believe in a prosperous public school system.”
Diegnan, who is the chair of the Assembly Education Committee, said, “I commend Commissioner Cerf for his responsiveness to Senator Barnes, Assemblywoman Pinkin and my concerns to Hatikvah’s proposed expansion. East Brunswick has some of the finest schools in our state. It would be illogical to divert additional public dollars for the expansion of a charter school that does not have the public support within the community.”
“If we’re going to offer parents a choice, we need to ensure it’s a high-quality choice,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "The denial of the Hatikvah's expansion clearly indicates that East Brunswick strong public schools are meeting the needs of all of our children in terms of providing for their basic educational rights. Adding greater cost to a non-failing school system would add to the burden of property taxes and the taxpayers we represent. ”
The legislators stressed that this is an example of the potential divisiveness of imposing charter schools on a community without public input and support. It is time to put into law a process to require community approval as a part of the charter school approval process.
The Alternative Press of East Brunswick reached out to the East Brunswick Board of Education for any statement or comment, but none was forthcoming at this time.