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Application for Proposed Virtual Charter School Denied

Proposed virtual charter in Teaneck is one of 22 denied applications, state officials say.

The state Department of Education has denied an application to open a controversial statewide virtual charter school in Teaneck, officials said Monday. 

Garden State Virtual Charter School, which had  after the state sent a letter to township school officials saying the charter could cost $15.4 million, was one of 22 charter applications that did not make it to the second round of reviews, said Justin Barra, a spokesman for the Education Department.

The charter school was proposed to eventually serve 3,500 students statewide using online courses, with a drop-in center located in Teaneck. Jason Flynn, the school's co-founder, was notified of the denial in a letter from the DOE Monday, according to a statement issued by the charter school's board. 

“We are extremely disappointed in the outcome. We addressed enthusiastically and with rigor every question and concern raised by the Department when we initially filed our application during the last round,” the statement said. "Because we have not yet determined our next steps, we will not be able to say more about the process."

The Teaneck  and a court hearing was scheduled for Monday, but was rescheduled before officials announced the application was denied. 

School officials had argued the possible cost would force deep cuts to local public school programs and staffing. State officials later said the number was only a guide and not a budget requirement. 

Teaneck Schools Superintendent Barbara Pinsak said Monday she was relieved by the news. The district has not yet received any official notice of the state's decision, she said. 

Pinsak said she hoped the state would develop better ways to vet the applications before asking districts to budget funds. During the process, Teaneck school officials had sought written confirmation from the state that they would not have to budget the full $15.4 million. 

"I can't understand why we couldn't get something a lot sooner," she said. 

Education Department representatives have said the cost would ultimately have been based on the amount of students who enrolled from Teaneck.  

The Board of Education would decide whether to pursue its legal motion seeking a moratorium on all virtual charter schools until the state can come up with specific regulations, Pinsak said. A hearing at the Office of Administrative Law was set for Friday, but Barra did not know if it was still planned. 

Pinsak noted the support from community members who had organized to lobby state officials, including Gov. Chris Christie, to block the school's approval. 

"I'm really impressed by all the people who stepped up," she said. 

Barra would not comment specifically on why the virtual charter school was denied, but said the application review was a two-part process. The Teaneck charter school was the only proposed virtual school in the current round of applications. 

"In our review, we evaluated both the strength of the proposed educational program and the capacity of the founding team to implement that program," Barra said in an e-mail. "Applicants that did not move on to the second stage of the process did not meet our review benchmarks in these areas."

The virtual charter school’s application raised questions about the more than governing charter schools in New Jersey. Although online charter schools are seemingly cheaper to operate, the current regulation makes no distinction between emerging virtual programs and brick-and-mortar schools.

Opponents questioned the virtual charter projected to run after its first year. Flynn had said the school wouldn’t need the surplus and would push to change the regulations. He also said he would have delayed the school’s launch if the state funding formula was not addressed.  

 


Karin Kiesow-Irvine December 15, 2011 at 10:11 PM
No way you see a chid learning by sitting in front of the T.V.? So much for Sesame Street, Word Girl, Cyber Chase and other educational shows that actually teaching children things. I am not for 100% sitting in front of a tv or computer screen to learn but kids do learn sitting in front of the idiot box. As to socialization you don't need to be in a school environment to socialize (parks/museums/grocery store etc.) Now legally I am thinking that you can not leave a 6 year old home alone so I would think that a parent would be home with their child(ren) if they decided to use a virtual charter school program. The parent would be there to make sure that their children are paying attention and doing what they should be doing, just like a teacher in the PS system except the parent has the benefit of not having 30 kids sitting in her living room. And your last statement I totally disagree with. My children and many others do not require a paid teacher to teach them to color/ hold a pencil/ learn to read/ put a puzzle together etc. because they have their parents to do that ..PARENTS are the first teachers of their children. I did all of these things with my kids and much more with them before they were school age and by the time they got to Kindergarten they were more then ready to get down to some real learning.
Aristides December 16, 2011 at 01:20 AM
In addition to the two articles recommended four places above this by Tom Abbott, have a look at a third: 'The Myth of Charter Schools,' a documentary film review by Diane Ravitch that appeared in the 'New York Review of Books' in January. The URL is <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools>. The main film of the 3 she reviews is 'Waiting for "Superman"'. ---Aristides
DMAB6395 December 19, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I for one am not happy about this being denied. I've talked to a few teachers in my family & they are in support of a virtual charter school anywhere. It's good for the children. Many of the people that I have read your comments are about taxes etc. Our school system is failing. This no money for books, paper, etc. Where my niece goes to school they are not allowed to take their books home or out of their classroom because the whole school has to share those books. As of Jan 1, 2012 they will no longer have any paper for them to make copies etc so they have no worksheets for them to take home to do homework-so they have no books & no paper. They have no after school activites except for sports but next year they may not have that either. In Teaneck we pay the highest property taxes in the state and 95% of that tax goes to education-but we don't have the supplies for our children either. I know i'm going to get beaten up for this but I am for the virtual charter schools-I was on the fence before I spoke to teachers that are all for it. Face it people in a few years there will be NO brick & mortar schools for our children I think & I know teachers who say the same thing we are going to have our children home & they will be learning on the computer. There classrooms will be like Skype with a teacher on 1 end & our children on the other. I'm just giving my opinion here on the facts that I've heard from teachers. So be kind in beating me up for MY OPINION. Home schooled children
DMAB6395 December 19, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Home schooled children rank better than those that go to school. I'm not talking about children that are home being taught by a parent I am talking about children that are in the virtual charter schools. Now let the beating begin because I know it's coming. I know I'm going to bashed by some very rude people as well.
Karin Kiesow-Irvine December 19, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Yeah the idea that in a few years all brick and mortar schools are going to be obsolete and be replaced by virtual schools is a joke. The parents would never allow that (sorry) ..yeah just not seeing it.

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