New Jersey approves two new charter schools in Camden County

Amir Khan, pastor of the Christian nondenominational Solid Rock Worship Center in Cherry Hill, who sought the charter for Regis Academy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Amir Khan, pastor of the Christian nondenominational Solid Rock Worship Center in Cherry Hill, who sought the charter for Regis Academy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Posted: October 01, 2011

The New Jersey Department of Education announced Friday the approval of four charter schools, including two in Camden County.

That brings the number approved by the state this year to 27, the most ever in one year.

Knowledge A to Z Charter School will open in Camden. It will be a kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school with 400 pupils.

Regis Academy Charter School will serve Cherry Hill, Lawnside, Somerdale, and Voorhees. The first charter school in those communities, it hopes to grow to 450 students in kindergarten through seventh grade.

Also approved were Beloved Community Charter in Jersey City and Trenton Scholars Charter.

The four are among 25 charter schools slated to open in September, officials said.

The Christie administration has often stated its commitment to increasing the number of high-quality charter schools. About 80 charter schools now operate in New Jersey, according to state records.

Those announced Friday represent a small percentage of the record 58 that sought approval.

"We are excited about the announcement and about educating our children," said Amir Khan, pastor of the Christian nondenominational Solid Rock Worship Center in Cherry Hill, who sought the charter for Regis Academy.

The secular school will be based on the "micro-society" education model, Khan said. Children will create their own community, with jobs, responsibilities and rules.

Khan said he thought the school would attract families that like its program and a racially "blended environment."

Khan now runs a Christian school, job-training program, and child-care program. Like those operations, the charter school will be situated on the former Holy Rosary Church campus, which Khan said he obtained through a $2.9 million buy-lease agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden. Earlier in the year, it looked like the deal would fall through, but Khan said the matter was resolved.

The diocese could not be reached for comment.

Khan also got media attention for his mixed-results attempt to rehabilitate 54 homeless people who had been living in Camden's Tent City.

A sponsor of the Knowledge A to Z Charter School did not return a request for comment.

Response to the state's announcement was mixed.

Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (D., Essex) said she was encouraged by the state's "measured approach" in approving only four charters, but she was concerned about the overall numbers.

She called for passage of her bill to let voters decide when and where they want to see the schools developed.


Contact staff writer Rita Giordano at 856-779-3841, rgiordano@phillynews.com or on Twitter @ritagiordano.

|
|
|
|
|