Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Board Objects to Renting out Schools

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Board Objects to Renting out Schools

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- The school board will likely oppose a controversial proposal that would rent sections of active public schools to charter schools, one piece of a sweeping reform package that members will take up in a vote tonight.

Allowing charter schools to locate in public schools is one of several "transformation strategies" outlined by Superintendent Donnie Evans at a public forum Monday evening as the district attempts to boost academic performance in reading and mathematics.

While Evans promoted the measure as a means of saving and raising money for a district that relies heavily on state aid, board members opposed to the idea cited building-management headaches, a glut of vacant city buildings and shoddy district facilities. Advocates for charters, meanwhile, support the initiative as a means to address what they see as a rising demand for charters.

As a whole, the reform package would affect thousands of children in some of the state's worst-performing schools and possibly redeploy hundreds of teachers. Several board members have vowed support for most other aspects of the package, including the use of test scores in assessing teacher performance, closing two small high schools and restarting seven elementary schools.

Paterson is expected to forward a proposal to the state's acting education commissioner, Christopher D. Cerf, for approval by next week.

What Paterson will include in that final draft remains unclear, however, especially if the board strips the charter school piece from the blueprint presented by Evans.

While the board can function only as an advisory panel in the state-controlled district, its members in this instance possess more political clout than usual -- Paterson would not have had the opportunity to propose reforms had the board not engaged Cerf about lifting state control. Cerf in February brushed aside an ambitious school board proposal to end state control of the district by the fall. …

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