QOD: NJ DOE is "Derailing" Interdistrict Choice Program

New Jersey’s Interdistrict PublicSchool Choice program is hugely popular with both parents and school districts. A 2010 state law expanded a pilot program to allow any district to apply.In just three years, the program has grown from the 15 pilot districts to 110 districts this year. Another 27 were recently approved by the state to being accepting students from other towns in 2014-15. Parents have until Dec. 2 to apply.
The program is especially popular with districts that have room in their schools for more students and welcome the extra aid provided by the state, about $10,000 per student, or $49 million statewide this year for more than 4,600 students. Students attend for free.
Mainland Regional got 130 applications for 35 seats this year as a new choice school. The district planned to add at least another 25 to 35 seats for students from other towns for 2014-15. But a new 5 percent growth limit imposed by the state Department of Education will limit the high school’s expansion to just two new students next year. “That pretty much derails the program,” said Nathan Lichtenwalner, guidance director at Mainland who coordinates the choice program. “We already have 40 applications for next year.” (Press of Atlantic City)