Dear Community Members,
You will remember that two charter schools were proposed last year that would have drawn students from the South Orange Maplewood School District. by the Department of Education in September.
However, one of the schools, the , a Mandarin immersion school, and the state is reconsidering their proposal. A decision will be made in January. Their application has made it past the first cut and is one of 17 being seriously considered for approval to open in September 2012.
Hua Mei’s new application names Maplewood, South Orange and West Orange as the districts from which it would draw students. Their last proposal named those three towns as well as Livingston, Millburn, and Union. There was a great deal of and Livingston in the last round. There was also a great deal of opposition from Maplewood and South Orange but the founders live in our community. Community members in our two towns sent emails, made phone calls, and signed petitions. And now, only a few short months later, we find ourselves in the same position once again. If the application is granted, Hua Mei would open in September of 2012 in a Maplewood location.
If you believe that public funding for a boutique Charter School in a district like ours does not make sense and that it will benefit a few at the expense of an entire community, then here is what you can do:
- Please sign the electronic petition that has been drafted opposing the proposed Hua Mei Charter School. You can find it here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/somsdcharterconcerns2/
- Please take a few minutes to call, email, and/or write to Acting Commissioner Cerf and Governor Christie (contact info below) and ask them to reject the Hua Mei application.
- Please contact our state legislators to urge them to do whatever they can to get the Charter Reform bills moving again (contact info below).
Some background: Charter Reform bills were passed by the Assembly this year, and unfortunately, are now stalled in the Senate. Our legislators all supported these bills which would allow for communities to have a say in whether charters open in their districts. Without this legislation, our towns are, once again, vulnerable.
Superintendent Osborne has officially opposed the charter and the administration has pointing out five pages worth of problems and weaknesses in the proposal. However, as a community, we must also make our voices heard in the next few weeks.
Remember, the money to fund charter schools comes out of the school district’s budget. This means that the South Orange Maplewood School district would pay the costs for students in our district attending the Hua Mei School and if the distance is more than two miles away, the school district would also have to provide transportation. For example, our school district would have a per pupil cost of $12,000 per student. If 40 children left our public schools to attend Hua Mei, $480,000 would be taken out of the South Orange Maplewood School District’s budget (in addition to transportation costs, when necessary). Additionally, since these students would likely be coming from a number of our district’s public schools, we would still have to carry the same number of teachers and all related costs at our public schools.
If you are concerned that public funding for Hua Mei would negatively affect our existing public schools, then please make your voice heard. Phone calls and emails are most effective. Please spread the word to friends and neighbors as well.
Cecelia Cancellaro, Co-President firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne Turner, Co-President email@example.com
South Orange Maplewood Presidents’ Council
Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf
100 River View Plaza
PO Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625
Or email using this link: http://www.state.nj.us/education/parents/contact.htm
Governor Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Or email using this link: http://www.nj.gov/governor/contact/
- Senator Codey (973-731-6770)
- Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (973-762-1886)
- Assemblyman John McKeon (973-275-1113)
What is Presidents’ Council?
Presidents’ Council is an organization consisting of all PTA, PTO and HSA Presidents in the South Orange Maplewood School District, whose purpose is:
- To discuss matters of interest to members including topics affecting the district as a whole, as well as individual schools;
- To provide an interchange of ideas and concerns among the presidents of various schools;
- To promote communication and a sense of unity among the schools.