Three proposed charter schools in the Atlantic City and greater Bridgeton area are among 38 applications received by the state Board of Education by the April 7 deadline.
All of the schools have local founders, including the mayor of Bridgeton, but two are working with Sabis Educational Systems, which runs private and charter schools in 15 countries and several states, including New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York.
The International Academy of Atlantic City Charter School would target Atlantic City and Pleasantville. The International Academy of Greater Bridgeton Charter School would target Bridgeton, Upper Deerfield Township and Fairfield Township. Both are working with Sabis. The Bridgeton Public Charter School would focus just on Bridgeton.
Matthew Craig, New Jersey state development coordinator for Sabis, which is based in Minnesota, said they have already begun working to reach out to the community and identify potential sites for the school in Atlantic City. Craig formerly worked for the state Department of Education Charter School office.
He said that with the closings of charter schools in Atlantic City and Pleasantville, there is a gap they hope the new school can fill. He said Sabis offers an international approach they hope will appeal to the diverse population in the city.
The schools have managed to attract some high-profile founders to their boards of trustees.
Peter Caporilli, of Galloway Township, owner of Tidewater Workshop, is the lead founder of the Atlantic County school, according to a list supplied by Sabis. Other founders include Pleasantville chiropractor Thomas Miller, Noyes Museum director Michael Cagno, Revel Casino Hotel Vice President Cyndee Phoenix, Sturdy Savings Bank auditor Jeff Harris, Stockton College Educational Opportunity Fund Director Stacey Zacharoff, Atlantic City teacher Stacey Robinson, Pleasantville parent Doris Rowell, financial adviser Rolanda Brewer, of Sicklerville, and AAA Academy for Children founder Larry Chenault of Dover, Morris County.
Caporilli said he is impressed with the work being done in Atlantic City public schools but also thinks there is room for another option in a smaller charter school. The Atlantic City School would have about 700 students in grades K-6, but could later expand through high school.
Caporilli, who is active with the Stockton College Foundation, said he believes if the area is to thrive the workforce must be well-educated, and he is impressed with the success of Sabis schools in narrowing the achievement gap for minority and low-income children.
“They have a model I can get behind,” he said.
The proposed Greater Bridgeton school’s founders include Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly, who is also CEO of Gateway Community Action Partnership in Bridgeton. Several other founding members are also affiliated with Gateway including Vice President and COO Edward Bethea, attorney Demetricia Todd-Hunter, case worker Samantha Jones, senior director of childcare Colleen Wright, and Head Start Family Partnership Specialist Shelly Mihalecz.
Other founders include Marian King, of Bridgeton; Tambria Swift, of Clayton, Gloucester County; Larry Chenault, of Dover, Morris County; Willie Maddox, of Deptford, Gloucester County; Audrey Miller, of Winslow, Camden County; Cheng Hsieh, of Lake Hopatcong, Morris County, and Dr. Lance Brown of Burlington County.
A similar Gateway Charter School proposal, with Wright as spokeswoman was submitted last year, but not approved. Kelly could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The Bridgeton Public School projects teaching 285 students in grades K-4. Founder Charlotte Gould could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
All applications must still be reviewed by the state Department of Education, with approvals announced by Sept. 30. The approved schools would be able to open in September 2015. Last year only three of 38 applications were approved.
Contact Diane D'Amico: