School Sharing Plan Offers More Options for Newark Students .
on Monday, 13 June 2011. Posted in In The News
Read this article as it originally appeared on localtalknews.com
Newark Public Schools today announced its final shared campus plan for the 2011-12 school year, with fourteen district and public charter schools sharing space in seven buildings across the district, creating space for some 1,800 students.
The plan calls for four new district high schools and seven public charter schools to open next fall in underutilized district schools. The district estimates it will save $4.1 million in facility operating costs next year, while earning about $800,000 in rent.
“Our goal with shared space is simple: to create more high quality school options for Newark families while reducing operational costs and freeing up resources that can be redirected,” said Superintendent Cami Anderson, who announced the plan at a press conference this afternoon, her first official day as superintendent.
The move comes as the districts’ student population continues its decade-long decline while the number of students enrolled in public charter schools expands. NPS officials say the loss of students has left as many as 10,000 empty seats throughout the district. At the same time, facility maintenance and operations costs have steadily risen, in part due to the age and size of Newark’s public school buildings.
“It simply is no longer feasible to pay to heat buildings and pay administrators for buildings that are more than half empty while the NPS budget is shrinking,” said Valerie Wilson, School Business Administrator.
The number of students in Newark’s charter schools has steadily grown since the first group opened in 1997. This year, 6,324 students are enrolled in Newark’s 20 charter schools, about 14 percent of Newark’s total school population. Next year, nearly 7,900 students are expected to be enrolled, about 17 percent of the school population. Currently, about 10,000 students are on waiting lists. Students at charter schools with more applicants than seats are admitted through a random lottery and those that don’t get in are placed on a waiting list.
“From a financial, instructional, and equity perspective, there is no reason why these underutilized spaces should not be made available for new school programs, including charter schools,” said Mashea Ashton, the CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund, which works with charter schools in Newark. “Taxpayers in Newark and across the State are paying for these entire buildings to be heated and lit. It is inefficient to let this vacant space sit there unused.”
The shared space plan was born out of the district’s strategic plan, Great Expectations 2009-13, which calls for expanding high-quality school options for Newark families. The latest proposal is revised from an earlier draft plan that was unintentionally made public earlier this year. At public hearings, some residents expressed concerns about aspects of the plan. Anderson said the revised proposal takes into account the public input. For example, previously considered consolidations at Barringer 9 and 18th Avenue will not occur next fall.
“I have been working closely with the various stakeholders and felt it was important to make the details specific and public so that we can all work together in implementing the shared campus plan,” Anderson said.
Ashton applauded NPS for listening to the community before drafting its final proposal.
“The proposal addresses many of the concerns expressed by the community and school leaders of the charter schools and traditional public schools during the last few months,” Ashton said. “Several positive steps were taken to engage the school leaders and school community on the plans. They were given the opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges and I am optimistic that the school leaders will come together to create a positive school community for all students.”
District officials said the NPS would host open houses and other community events for charter and district schools that are sharing space where families can learn about how shared campuses work, hear about the missions of the respective schools, and begin to build a cohesive school community. Several meetings already occurred last week.
Over the summer, training will be offered to establish decision-making teams at the school level to meet regularly to plan and resolve emergent issues.
In addition to creating space for charter schools, the plan will also make classrooms available to four new high schools that will be run in partnership with NPS. The new schools are: Bard High School Early College Newark (BHSEC), Newark Bridges High School, Newark Hybrid High, and Newark Leadership Academy.
Ray Peterson, who was appointed Monday as the principal of Bard High School Early College Newark, said he is looking forward to starting in Newark in September. The school will share space with two charters in the Camden Street Middle School.
“I’m excited to be part of bringing Bard’s early college program to Newark Public Schools,” Peterson said. “The parents and students I have met seem to share in this excitement and we join them as we look forward to an innovative and engaging new school.”
Specific Plan Details:
Burnet Street Building – Burnet Street Elementary School and Great Oaks Charter School
Camden Middle School Building – People’s Prep Charter School, New Day Charter School and Bard High School Early College
200 Washington Street – YEES Center and Newark Hybrid High
Newark Vocational Building – Newark Leadership Academy and Newark Vocational HS
13th Avenue Building – 13th Avenue Elementary and North Star Elementary III Charter School.
15th Avenue Building – North Star Elementary II Charter School
Camden Middle School into Camden Elementary
Fast Track High School and Middle School (from multiple locations) into Harold Wilson and Pathways
Broadway Elementary into Luis Munoz Marin Middle
Elliott Street into Old First Avenue
15th Avenue Students will choose between South 17th Street and 14th Avenue schools
To Be Determinied
TEAM Academy Charter School – Spark
Newark Bridges Academy