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Measures Approved by Assembly in June Would Create Greater Accountability to Residents and More Oversight of Charter School Operations

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex) on Thursday encouraged the Senate to pass several measures she is sponsoring that would create more accountability and oversight when it comes to the creation of charter schools throughout New Jersey.
The measures (A-3356, A-3852), which employ a sensible approach to the establishment and operation of charter schools, passed the Assembly in June and were discussed before the Senate Education Committee today.
Jasey has been a strong advocate for requiring voter approval before charter schools can be established in a given district due to the fact that taxpayer money supports the schools.
In testimony submitted to the committee today, Jasey noted, “School budgets account for more than half of local taxpayer dollars, and I strongly believe that voters should have the opportunity, indeed the right, to decide if they want a charter school located in their school district. By definition, proposed charter schools will result in a diversion of funds from the traditional public schools whose budgets have already been cut to the bone due to ever increasing costs and the 2% cap.
“I believe that charter schools play an important role as incubators of innovation, and should be collaborating with our traditional public schools to share best practices. However, in these challenging economic times, as our school districts struggle financially to provide all of our students with the excellent education to which they are entitled, a proliferation of charter schools competing for scarce dollars is fraught with problems for all the students of a school district.”
Two of the measures taken up for discussion today by the Senate Education Committee include:
· A-3852 – Requires final voter approval at the annual school election or by the board of school estimate before the establishment of a charter school. Sponsored by Jasey, Assembly Education Chairman Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), and Assemblymen Peter Barnes III (D-Middlesex), John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), and Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), the bill was approved in the Assembly by a vote of 47-17-14.
· A-3356 – Creates greater accountability and transparency of charter schools and their operations. Sponsored by Jasey and Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex/Union), the bill was approved in the Assembly by a vote of 72-6.
“Careful review should be given to enrollment practices and monitoring…Conversation about all of these issues is critical, but this is also a time for action, and I would urge the Committee to post this bill so that the Senate can make its voice heard on this measure, as well as the referendum bill,” Jasey concluded in her testimony.