Five South Jersey districts rejected for school-choice program

Posted: October 06, 2013

Six of 27 school districts that sought state funding to receive students from other communities learned this week that their applications for a so-called choice designation had been rejected by the New Jersey Department of Education.

They "were not approved because their applications didn't sufficiently address the questions in the application forms," department spokesman Michael Yaple said. "We didn't have enough information or the applications weren't complete."

Yaple said some responses to questions contradicted state law for admissions and lottery processes. "If you didn't fall in line with a state law, you weren't considered for the program," he said.

The Interdistrict Public School Choice Program, which began as a pilot in 2005 with 15 schools, was signed into law in September 2010 by Gov. Christie.

Since then, the number of districts has grown to 110, with about 4,600 students participating. In the 2014-15 school year, that number will rise to 137, with more than 5,500 students, though the approved districts still need to confirm by Friday that they will take part in the program.

Qualified districts with open seats can take students from outside their district and receive funding from the state. The sending district pays for transportation up to 20 miles.

The program has long been touted as a win-win for districts with low enrollment and families looking for a way out of failing districts.

Districts interested in joining the program or expanding an existing program sent notice to the state by Oct. 11 last year.

Parents interested in enrolling their children in choice schools must submit applications by Dec. 4 for the 2014-15 school year.

The Haddon Heights School District received the choice designation this year and could accept up to 26 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Superintendent Michael Adams said the district offered to receive 100 students, but, due to high demand, this year was given only about a quarter of that number.

"The district was hoping for more," Adams said. "But in the same regard, we understand that there were a lot of districts that applied, so they wanted to spread seats out so more children had the opportunity."

Five of the six districts rejected were in South Jersey. They were Barrington and Woodlynne in Camden County, Greenwich Township and Stow Creek in Cumberland County, and Little Egg Harbor in Ocean County. Henry Hudson Regional District in Monmouth County also did not receive approval.

In addition to the new schools, all of the existing choice districts were able to grow this year, but all at the same rate, due to the increased applicants.

"The numbers tell the story," Yaple said. "It's a very popular program."

School Choice

South Jersey school districts approved, with their county:

Atlantic City Atlantic.

Clementon Camden.

Deptford Township Gloucester.

Haddon Heights Camden.

Island Heights Ocean.

Logan Township


Middle Township

Cape May.

Oaklyn Camden.

Pennsville Salem.

Pinelands Regional    Ocean.

Plumsted Township Ocean.

Upper Township

Cape May.

Vineland Cumberland.

Wildwood Crest

Cape May.



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