FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - Central Jersey College Prep Charter School was one of 15 schools approved for expansion by the New Jersey Department of Education on March 1.
Their approval was granted through an amendment process that allows the school to expand outside of their renewal.
CJCP currently enrolls 480 students in grades K-2, 6-12, and with the expansion will increase their enrollment to 1,320 serving students from K-12. The school serves students from students from Franklin, North Brunswick, and New Brunswick.
The expansion does not come without opposition. The Franklin Township Board of Education called for a temporary moratorium on new charter school seats in Middlesex and Somerset counties, as well as the expansion of existing charter schools back in January.
The resolution called for the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to conduct a full analysis of the potential impact of the expansion of existing and addition of new charter schools in Middlesex and Somerset county and their impact on public schools in their respective districts.
"We are not saying that the ones we have (charter schools) should not continue, what we are saying - they shouldn't have the opportunity to expand until the questions, very serious questions fiscal and student outcome questions are answered," Board of Education President Ed Potasnak said at last month's BOE meeting. "That is why this resolution is here today. It is not trying to put us against them... we are in this together."
Franklin Community Advocates Revitalizing our Education System (C.A.R.E.S.) a parent-led community advocate group held a forum in late February to discuss the impact charter school expansion would have on the district.
"This is an economic issue for us budget challenges in this time can be very difficult for us, we have had flat state aide over the years, Superintendent Dr. John Ravally said at the forum. "For us that is a de facto cut as other increases continue to rise."
The 8,096-student district spent some $9.8 million sending students to charter schools in this year’s $148 million budget, according to 2016-2017 budget information on the district’s website. That accounts for about 6 percent of the total district spending plan.
If the expansion of the charter schools in the district continues that figure can double in three years.
"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," Acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington said in a statement. "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."