Sunday Leftovers

"The Newark Educational Success Board – formed by Mayor Ras Baraka and Gov. Chris Christie in June – told more than 100 attendees at Abyssinian Baptist Church Wednesday that the timeline for the end of state control will likely begin once the district demonstrates it is ready to govern itself." See the Star-Ledger. Also see NJ Spotlight.

The Star-Ledger digs into Education Law Center’s most recent attack on charter schools, which focuses on whether charter schools “hoard” money by keeping more  than 2% in fund balances. This accusation according to the NJ Charter School Association, is a “misguided assault on charter school viability” because:
Unlike school districts, charter schools do not receive money directly from property taxes or from the state. Instead, when a student leaves his or her home district for a charter school, the school receives a portion of the district's per-pupil expenses.  
Charter schools need to build up larger fund balances to pay for facilities, the NJCSA said.  
"The only way for a charter school to purchase or renovate a building is to accumulate a fund balance from their operating funds," the NJSCA said in a statement.
The fund balance must be large enough to give a school the opportunity for additional financing, including loans, the NJCSA said.  
Any cap on the financial reserves of charter schools threatens their viability and their ability to provide academic opportunities for students, the NJCSA said.
The Ledger could have also pointed out that NJ charter schools are required by DOE regulations to carry fund balances. Also,  they don't receive tuition payments during the summer and so must accumulate fund balances in June to pay for necessary facilities work during the summer. Education Law Center, of course, confines its comparison of traditional vs. charter school fund balances to June, when charters would necessarily have built up their highest fund balances.

Montclair Superintendent Ron Bolandi told parents that he received a letter from the DOE regarding the district’s sky-high opt-out rates: over 42 percent in March and over 47 percent in May. The Record reports that Bolandi blamed the DOE, “pointing out that it changes requirements year to year. He said the information that he was reading at the board meeting could change as soon as the next day.” On the other hand, the Record also reports that Rutherford Superintendent Jack Hurley told his Board that now the PARCC is “a much more user-friendly model,... adding that the amount of time that students will actually spend taking PARCC, and the time of year when PARCC will be administered, will be similar to the previous standardized tests, HSPA and NJASK. Hurley believes testing later in the year - primarily April and into May, which is when Rutherford plans to test - provides a better reflection of where a student stands.”

New York State, which uses its own tests aligned with the Common Core, is also shortening tests: Chalkbeat reports that "Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said testmakers will remove reading and writing passages from the English tests given to third through eighth graders this year, and remove multiple-choice questions from the math tests."

Trenton parents of children with disabilities have a new resource for information and advocacy. Out of the 13,000 children enrolled in Trenton schools, a whopping  2,322  are classified as eligible for special education services.