South Orange Board to Weigh Charter School Resolutions
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 • 7:21am
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Saying they needed more time to discuss their position on two proposed charter schools, members of the South Orange Village Board of Trustees took no action after hearing a presentation by the school district’s superintendent and school board president.
South Orange Maplewood Board of Education President Beth Daugherty and Schools Superintendent Brian Osborne asked the trustees at Monday night’s meeting to go on record opposing applications of two charter schools and also to support legislation that would give voters a voice in decisions on charter schools. Charter school applications are approved by the state Department of Education.
The Maplewood Township Committee declined to support the two resolutions at its May 16 meeting.
Although Trustee Deborah Davis Ford spoke in favor of the request, other trustees had reservations about the resolutions.
Trustee Michael Goldberg said that he was not sure that the board should be involved with educational policy. “I’m troubled with crossing that line,” he said. Trustee Howard Levison said that while he supported legislative reform, he also was “uncomfortable” with taking a position on specific charter schools.
“I had more trouble with the second resolution,” Trustee Janine Bauer said. She said she disliked the idea of education as a “political football.”
Daugherty and Osborne stressed that they had hoped for a decision by May 31, when the school district must submit its input on the two applications. However, Trustee Mark Rosner said that if the board did support one or both resolutions after discussion at its June meeting, that decision could still be communicated to the state Education Department.
Two groups are seeking to establish charter schools that would draw students from the South Orange Maplewood School District. Daugherty said one application is for a Mandarin immersion school based in Maplewood that would initially enroll 21 students, and the second is for a technology-centered middle school with a target enrollment of 64 students drawn from several districts.
Daugherty said that the Mandarin charter school could cost the district nearly $250,000 in its 2011-2012 budget for tuition and transportation, while the proposal for the middle school could cost nearly $750,000.
In other action, the village board:
-- approved a resolution allowing former Village President Douglas Newman to continue to serve on the Charter Review Committee as a South Orange citizen.
-- heard the first reading of an ordinance that would prohibit parking buses on residential streets. A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the board’s June meeting.