HomeNewswirePRINCETON: Mayor Lempert comes out against charter school expansion

PRINCETON: Mayor Lempert comes out against charter school expansion

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Mayor Liz Lempert waded into the feud between the Princeton School Board and the Princeton Charter School by saying Monday that she opposed the Charter school proposal to add roughly 75 students., “I’m against it,” she told reporters at her press conference. “I’m concerned about the impact it will have to the full district because of the expense of it.”, The school district has said adding 76 more students would mean $1.16 million more a year it would have to hand over to the Charter School, which gets funded by local tax dollars. The Charter School contends the enrollment growth would help toward the diversity of its student body and soften enrollment growth at other schools in the district., The state Department of Education will decide the Charter School’s application, likely in March. Neither the president of the Princeton School Board nor the head of the charter school board of trustees could be reached for comment Monday., For her part, Mayor Lempert said she would prefer to see voters decide any expansion at a referendum. She said New Jersey has a “flawed” charter school law because it does not give local towns “any say in what happens.”, “I feel that a question of whether the Charter School should expand is something that should be made here in Princeton and not in Trenton,” she said., Mayor Lempert’s comments come with the school district suing the charter school by alleging it had violated the state ‘s Open Public Meetings Act. “In essence we are claiming that the community was not properly informed that the PCS trustees were intending to take action to approve an application to increase the school’s enrollment, and that as a result, the court should invalidate that action,” Superintendent of Schools Stephen C. Cochrane said last week., In choosing sides in the debate, Mayor Lempert, a public school mom who sent one child through the district and has another still in it, found herself staying true to her base. She has allies within the larger public school community; she built up her network of supporters among fellow parents in the Littlebrook Elementary School area of town., Also, she helped start Save our Schools, an organization that, among other things, advocated for legislation to require local voter approval before a charter school can open or expand in their communities. The organization and its leadership say they are not anti-charter school, despite clashes with charter school advocates., One of the other founders of that group, Julia Sass Rubin, a former charter school mom who is married to Princeton school board member Greg Stankiewicz, is due to make two presentations about the proposed expansion at forums the district is having on Wednesday and Thursday, at John Witherspoon Middle School. In the past, she has been critical of charter schools.

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