N.J. approves 8 more charter schools, 3 in Camden

Posted: January 21, 2012

Eight new charter schools, including three in Camden, have been approved for September, the state Department of Education announced Friday.

The Camden schools are: the Charter School for Global Leadership, for 600 students in grades nine through 12; City Invincible Charter School, for 600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade; and Hope Community Charter School, for 330 in kindergarten through fourth grade.

"We are so honored by the opportunity," said Robin Ruiz, a founder of Hope Community Charter.

Ruiz, who teaches at the public Camden County Technical School, said Hope Community would emphasize literacy and strive to turn its students into confident readers, writers, and speakers.

City Invincible will include traditional and project-based learning. Students will have opportunities to learn from their community and how to improve it, according to spokeswoman Julie Stapleton-Carroll, a founder and former chief officer of the Wissahickon Charter School in Philadelphia.

Stapleton-Carroll said she serves as executive director of social services for Foundations Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit that supports charters and helped organize City Invincible.

Another charter, COMPASS Academy Charter School, is slated to open in Vineland. It plans to serve 228 students in kindergarten through fifth grade from Vineland, Millville, and Pittsgrove.

The other approved charters are to be located in Jersey City, Newark, and Trenton. None of the new schools is to be situated in a high-performing suburban district, where proposed charters have drawn fire of late.

"Since Gov. Christie took office, we have committed to being unapologetically impatient when students do not have access to the high-quality school options they deserve," acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said in statement Friday, referring to the largely urban, challenged districts where the new charters will be located.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers worked with the state through the review and approval process.

The eight approved applications were chosen from 42 submitted statewide. That's a higher approval rate than in October, when four out of 58 applicants were granted charters.

There are 80 charter schools operating in the state. Thirty-three more, including the new eight, are eligible to open in September provided they pass the department's readiness review, according to state education spokesman Justin Barra.

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

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