Franklin Township: Public Panel to Discuss the Impact of Charter Schools

Central Jersey College Prep Trustees Credits: Malik A. Lyons
Franklin Township Board of Education Credits: Malik A. Lyons

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - This week a community advocate group called Franklin C.A.R.E.S. will hold a panel called "Panel: Protect Public Schools - Oppose Charter Growth" at the Franklin High School Cafeteria Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7:00 p.m. 

Last month Franklin Township's BOE passed resolution Moratorium on New Charter School Seats in Middlesex and Somerset Counties (A-08) calling for a temporary moratorium on new charter school seats in Middlesex and Somerset counties, as well as the expansion of existing charter schools. 

There are five charter schools in Middlesex and Somerset counties, including two that operate in Franklin Township. Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School (TEECS), and Central Jersey College Prep (CJCP)  and serve students from Franklin, North Brunswick, South Brunswick and New Brunswick. Ailanthus Charter School is scheduled to open September 2018 and serve students from Franklin and New Brunswick.

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TAPinto Franklin Township reached out to TEECS, CJCP, and Ailanthus for comments. TAPinto Franklin Township is still waiting to hear back from TEECS and Ailanthus.

Last week CJCP had their Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 2 and handed out a document responding to resolution A-08. 

Below is the unedited responses to Franklin Township's resolution:

On January 26, 2017, the Franklin Township Public Schools Board of Education (FTBOE) passed a non-binding resolution that called for a moratorium on new charter seats in Middlesex and Somerset Counties, created through the approval of new facilities and/or the expansion of existing facilities.

Central Jersey College Prep Charter School (CJCP) is one of the schools mentioned by name in the resolution. Therefore, CJCP administration feels obliged to correct some misinformation contained in that resolution and related to the school. 

FTBOE’s Claim 1: Franklin Township Board of Education (FTBOE) claims that charter schools drain and diminish money available to serve students in the traditional public schools.

CJCP’s Response: CJCP is a public charter school approved by the NJDOE that primarily serves students from Franklin Township. Therefore, CJCP is entitled to receive funding for students it serves according to the state law. Without question, CJCP has been able to provide a high-quality education in a financially efficient manner. Any impact to the district has been accounted for in the Commissioner’s financial impact analysis as mandated by law. 

FTBOE’s Claim 2: FTBOE claims that public school districts are underfunded unlike charter schools. 

CJCP’s Response: According to the NJDOE’s budget allocation documents, titled FY 2016 – 17 State Charter School Aid, CJCP expects to receive $13,166.53 for each Franklin Township student enrolling at CJCP for the school year 2016-17. On the other hand, FTBOE’s document, titled User Friendly Budget Summary posted on Franklin Township School’s website, indicates a revenue of $144,647,726 from local sources and state sources, which equate an expenditure of $20,329.97 per student for the school year 2016-17. Furthermore, according to the Taxpayers Guide to Education Spending 2016, CJCP’s total per pupil spending for 2014-2015 is $17,038 while Franklin Township for the same time period is $20,633. Taking into account both calculations CJCP spends significantly less per pupil.

FTBOE’s Claim 3: FTBOE claims that the existing charter schools located in Middlesex and Somerset counties are already lacking in demand in their own designated communities and the expansion of these schools will only exacerbate this issue.

CJCP’s Response: CJCP has been experiencing an increase in demand for enrollment from students living within its sending district. The number of applications CJCP received from its own region of residence is as follows:

*Applications for the school year 2017-18 are due February 28, 2017. CJCP anticipates to receive over 1,200 applications based on the current trend of applications.

FTBOE’s Claim 4: FTBOE claims that only 87% of the students enrolled in CJCP reside in CJCP’s region of residence. 

CJCP’s Response: 87% enrollment from the students in CJCP’s region of residence is a result of upperclassmen high school students from outside of attendance zone who started to attend CJCP when they were sixth graders. As these students graduate, the ratio of students from CJCP’s region of residence attending CJCP has increased. The percentage of CJCP students from the region of residence is as follows:

Given the applications received for the school year 2017-18, CJCP anticipates to have approximately 94% of its students attending from the region of residence for the 2017-2018 school year. If the existing trend holds, approximately 100% of CJCP students will live in the region of residence within a few years. 

FTBOE’s Claim 5: In the January 26th resolution, FTBOE mentions only two charter schools, Thomas Edison Energy Smart Charter School and Hatikvah Charter School, as enrolling a significantly more segregated student body than any of the resident or non-resident sending districts with respect to race, socioeconomic status, and need for special education.

CJCP’s Response: With its claim regarding diversity in other charter schools, FTBOE tacitly admits that CJCP’s student body is comparable to its sending districts with respect to race, socioeconomic background, and need for special education. CJCP’s student body is approximately comprised of 14% White, 17% Hispanic, 30% African-American, 38% Asian and 1% others. 

Click the link below to see the full document:

Central Jersey College Prep Charter School’s Response to Franklin Township Board of Education’s Resolutionpdf

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