Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Banner Day for Charter

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Banner Day for Charter

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- Josephine Lebron's mother and grandfather took a trip to Newark earlier this year to check out the charter school there run by Philip's Academy.

They were so impressed with the atmosphere at the school that they entered Josephine in a lottery for the kindergarten class at a new school in Paterson the Newark outfit planned to open, and they were thrilled when her name was picked for one of the 60 seats at the new Philip's Academy.

She otherwise would have attended School 4, one of six Paterson public schools that at one time was targeted for possible state takeover because of its poor performance.

"She loves it here," said Josephine's mother, Vera Devorath.

Philip's Academy, which formally opened on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, is the city's fifth charter school. It's a time of intensive growth for urban charters. The Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology is asking the state for permission to expand its enrollment by about 500 slots.

The growth of charter schools in Paterson has been a subject of heated debate, pitting advocates who assert that charter offer an educational choice for city parents against critics who say charters are draining the city district's funds.

"What they are doing is taking over our resources," said Error Kerr, a veteran member of the Paterson Board of Education. "The remaining kids do not have the same access to those resources."

This year's district budget funnels about $34 million to the five charter schools, an allocation required by state law.

During Wednesday's ceremony, the chief executive officer at Philip's Academy, Miguel Brito, said his group has been "greeted and treated royally" by officials in city government and the school district. Brito said during his speech that Paterson children have the same potential and abilities as youngsters anywhere in America. …

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