NEWARK — The KIPP charter school network plans to open five new schools in Newark in the coming years — a move likely to deepen an already wide divide in educational circles in the city.
The organization announced its plans Wednesday morning at TEAM Academy, the first of its Newark schools, saying it will file an application with the state Department of Education on Thursday to renew its certification and seek permission to enlarge.
If successful, the plan would give KIPP the capacity to operate up to 15 schools in Newark and add 5,440 new seats, nearly tripling its current membership of about 3,200.
In a statement, KIPP executive director Ryan Hill said the applications are the result of continued success at private schools which have consistently convinced parents to enroll their children and created a waiting list. thousands of names.
“Today’s filing represents an affirmation of our commitment to the families we already serve, and those who have made it clear that they also want to be part of the KIPP New Jersey family,” he said.
The announcement is the latest sign that the steady rise in charters, which now enroll nearly 40 percent of Newark’s children, shows no signs of letting up. New York-based Uncommon Schools recently filed an application with city planning officials to establish a 12e North Star Academy school in the city on former Star-Ledger property in the Central District.
But many education advocates say the growth of charters has made things anything but stable for the city’s public schools. Declining enrollment in the state-controlled district has forced many facilities to close, and students at those that remain often face overcrowding or other adverse conditions.
South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James, who attended this morning’s announcement with council colleagues Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, Anibal Ramos Jr. and Eddie Osborne, said he was worried about any impact from the expansion of the charter on the perception that students in public schools were being left behind.
“I’ve never been anti-charter, but the whole expansion without a fix for public schools is tearing our community apart,” he said. “What is the state’s solution? We don’t hear the answers.
Superintendent of Schools Christopher Cerf, a longtime school reform advocate and former state education commissioner who now oversees the public school district, declined to comment, saying he hadn’t seen the KIPP application.
KIPP spokeswoman Jessica Shearer said the network expects to receive a decision on its renewal and proposed expansion by March. The five proposed new schools would include two elementary schools, two middle schools, and a high school, which would likely be located in the south, west, and central wards.
The organization is currently licensed to run up to 10 schools in the city. Only eight are currently in use, although another building on Littleton Avenue in the West Quarter is currently under construction.
Newark school advisory board member Rashon Hasan, who also attended Wednesday morning’s announcement, said he believed efforts to stem the expansion of charters were unlikely to bear fruit. based on family demand. However, he decided to ensure that the city’s education system did not turn into a stark contrast between haves and have-nots.
“At the end of the day, it’s our job to make sure every school in the city of Newark is a great school,” he said.
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