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Deny The Expansion Of Hatikvah International Academy Charter School Which Harms Our Local Public School Students And Our Tax Burdens

This petition had 884 supporters

Under New Jersey’s broken charter school law, charter schools have the ability to apply for changes including expansion in classroom and school size every year. New Jersey State Commissioner of Education David Hespe is the sole decider of whether Hatikvah Charter School may expand, forcing our local public schools to turnover increasingly scarce resources to Hatikvah, likely requiring the loss of additional programs and/or staff in our local public schools.  

You may recall that last year Hatikvah Charter School was denied an expansion request due to a “decline in the school’s academic performance,” among other reasons, after substantial public opposition. The charter school has once again applied for an expansion request, even though it has not even filled the 300 seats it is currently allowed to fill.

When viewed from the perspective of what is best for the majority of public school students, there is no justification for this charter school to expand. Hatikvah cannot be allowed to continue their statewide expansion, to continue to segregate our communities and to continue to usurp scarce district dollars.

Please sign the petition insisting that Commissioner Hespe consider the facts and deny Hatikvah’s request for expansion for the following reasons:

  • Hatikvah has not demonstrated that there is an unmet need in the East Brunswick public schools, and in fact Hatikvah’s curriculum has now “morphed in many ways into a mirror of the curriculum in the eight East Brunswick elementary schools,” according to the East Brunswick School District. Last year, then-Commissioner Christopher Cerf clarified that an “unmet need means that there are children who are being underserved in terms of their basic educational rights.”

  • If approved by the state, Hatikvah would increase from 300 maximum to 450 students by either a) increasing class size from 50 to 75 students per grade or b) increasing the number of grades from K-5 to K-8.  While the charter was originally approved to offer small class sizes and a small school overall, it is now willing to abandon its own pedagogy to simply increase its share of school tax dollars.

  • East Brunswick Public Schools are already forced to set aside over $2 Million for the 2015-2016 school year to pay for Charter School obligations. Even though Hatikvah’s expansion request even admits an expansion would not result in any additional East Brunswick students attending the charter school, as the host district East Brunswick would be forced to set aside more than an ADDITIONAL Million dollars (or 42% of the district’s 2% budget cap) which would come directly from our tax dollars.

  • The East Brunswick Board of Education has made clear that an expansion approval would “jeopardize the district’s ability to maintain educational programs, staffing, and meet contractual obligations.” In addition to harming our students, further cuts to our schools could potentially impact our property values.

  • Hatikvah is segregating our public schools by taking far fewer Special Education, Limited English Proficient, low-income and minority students than East Brunswick or any other affected district. This not only demonstrates that Hatikvah is not fulfilling an “unmet need” but makes all comparisons between the performance of the charter and the sending districts invalid. Clearly, Hatikvah has become an unneeded, segregating boutique charter school. 

  • Hatikvah was only approved to serve students in East Brunswick. Yet currently Hatikvah draws students from an astounding 20 districts in 5 counties; in essence Hatikvah has become a de facto statewide charter school. The other 19 sending districts were not even notified of this expansion request, leaving those districts without a voice in a process that can negatively impact their budget.

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