Charter school operators hopeful state tour will help their cause

Brian McGuire said he is hopeful that the Department of Education’s review of the state’s charter schools will be positive for both his institution and for charter schools statewide.“I hope what comes out of it is that all those decision-makers can get a clear picture that charter schools work in New Jersey,” said McGuire, principal at Chartertech High School for the Performing Arts in Somers Point, the county’s only charter high school. “We have our problems just like any other school does, but we also have a lot of success.”

Department of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet visited McGuire’s school Thursday as part of a statewide listening tour that began this month to “gather public feedback on New Jersey’s approach to charter schools.” The tour coincides with the 20-year anniversary of the first charter school opening in New Jersey and follows up on Gov. Phil Murphy’s promise in March to review the law that governs the publicly-funded schools.

Charter schools are operated independent of the district within which they reside and are free for students to attend. Students are drawn from the local district or region and the charters for the schools are approved and reviewed by the state Department of Education. Of the 89 charter schools in the state, South Jersey is home to few compared with North Jersey, with four in Cumberland County, three in Atlantic County, one in Ocean County and none in Cape May County.