Thursday, December 22, 2005

District Moves To Fix Charter Lapse, New Charter School Coming

As a new charter school prepares for a September 2006 opening, the Plainfield school district is trying to make up for leaving another one out of the 2005-06 budget.

The Central Jersey Arts Charter School is accepting applications for a lottery to enroll students for the coming school year. Applications may be obtained weekdays from 1 to 4 p.m. at the school’s office at 203 Park Avenue, or at the En Pointe School of Dance, 114 E. Second St., Monday through Thursday between 4 and 8 p.m. The deadline is Jan. 14, 2006.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education must find a way to make up $1.9 million in funding for the Union County TEAMS Charter School. The school opened in September 2005 with 177 students in the new Shiloh Baptist Church edifice on West Fourth Street, but the district did not budget for its opening. The agenda for the Dec. 20, 2005 board meeting included a resolution authorizing use of $1 million from $2.2 million in surplus funds and realignment of the 2005-06 budget to come up with the $865,613 balance.

Despite the error, Union County TEAMS founder Sheila Thorpe said the district has not skipped any payments to the charter school. All charter schools are publicly funded, receiving 90 percent tuition per pupil, with the district retaining the balance.

“They’ve not missed a beat with us,“ Thorpe said Thursday (Dec. 22, 2005). “It’s never really been a problem.”

Union County TEAMS received its charter in January 2005 and has students in grades 1 through 8. Its theme is “Technology, Engineering, Architecture, Math & Science,” yielding its acronym.

Longtime School Secretary/Business Administrator Gary Ottmann left the district a year ago and the district had an interim business administrator, Edward Kent, in early 2005. The 2005-06 budget was approved in April 2005.

Central Jersey Arts Charter School will open next year with 248 students in grades K through 5, said its board president, Shamida D. Coney. The school will be hiring a director and 16 teachers, as well as support staff, Coney said. Negotiations are underway for a site, she said.

Coney is in her sixth year of operating En Pointe School of Dance and has also been a teaching artist at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for six years, she said. Besides meeting required state Department of Education standards, the school’s curriculum will emphasize the arts, including movement, music and theater techniques.

“Teachers will undergo professional development in order to incorporate creativity into lessons,” Coney said.
Another Plainfield charter school, Queen City Academy, received its five-year charter renewal and is now operating in the former Temple Sholom building at West Seventh Street and Grant Avenue.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: charter school


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