A proposed charter school that had hoped to open in Atlantic City in September did not get final approval from the state Department of Education to open and will instead get another planning year.
The Atlantic City Community Charter School had planned to take over the site of the Oceanside Charter School, which closed in June. A letter from the state to school founder Jake DerHagopian said only that the school failed to meet all the necessary regulatory and statutory requirements to gain final approval.
Another area charter school, the Compass Academy Charter School in Vineland, was approved to open, the state Department of Education announced Friday.
The school, located behind Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on East Landis Avenue, will open Sept. 5 with 114 students in grades K-2, and still has a few openings in the second-grade class, board President Sanford Tweedie said.
The Education Department conducts a multi-stage approval process of charter schools. Pre-approved applicants submit their final information to the department by June 30 of the year they plan to open.
“We must hold a high bar for any school that serves New Jersey students, and we are confident that these schools have the academic and operational components in place to provide a high-quality choice on day one,” Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said of the approved schools.
Atlantic City School District Superintendent Donna Haye said parents who had enrolled their children in the new charter school should re-register in the public school as quickly as possible so the district can plan for September. Parents can register their children at the school district offices at 1300 Atlantic Ave.
Oceanside had about 380 students, and there are concerns about overcrowding in the city schools. Haye said her staff is already discussing adding three more classes at Pennsylvania Avenue School because of increased enrollment there. The district is also re-opening Brighton Avenue School to accommodate overcrowding at Texas Avenue and Sovereign Avenue schools.
The district will have extra money from the tuition that would have been paid to the charter school, so it can afford to hire extra teachers if needed. Haye said it has already hired some teachers from Oceanside.
The status of the former Oceanside school site on Bacharach Boulevard is unclear. The land is owned by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which had a tentative agreement to lease the site to the new charter school, which was to be managed by CSMI Education Management in Chester, Pa. CRDA officials could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Contacted by phone Friday, Clifford Kendeall, principal for the new charter school, said he could not comment because he had not yet heard that the school was not opening. The letter to the school, dated Friday, was addressed to Jake DerHagopian at the Bacharach Boulevard address.
Other approved schools include the Camden Community Charter School, which is also managed by CSMI.
Jeanine Middleton, lead administrator of Oceanside, said they had allowed the new charter school access to their site and materials because CSMI officials had said they would purchase them. She said they will now have to see if that plan changes.
“We wanted to close in the black,” she said. “We’ll have to see where we stand.”
Tweedie said the board is very excited to have Compass Academy approved. The Vineland school had planned to open last year, but due to an error, did not meet the required enrollment target. Tweedie said they were ready to open last year, but the extra year, plus a $150,000 charter school grant, gave them the opportunity to purchase materials and train teachers.
“It would have been nice to open last year, but we are better prepared now,” he said.
The school has a waiting list for kindergarten, and the first-grade is full, but there are about six openings in the second-grade class. Plans call for Compass to expand each year until it reaches 228 students in grades K-5. The school is a free, and while its target areas are Vineland, Millville and Pittsgrove Township, they can accept students from other towns.
Interested parents can call the school at 856 899-5570 or visit www.compassacademycharter.org
Contact Diane D’Amico: