Mother Crusader is angry again.

Despite the success of parents in keeping a Hebrew charter school from opening in Highland Park, one opened in East Brunswick called the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School. Since there was not enough demand in East Brunswick for the school, it draws students from 17 other districts, including Highland Park, which previously rejected a charter.

What is striking here is that the new charter is enrolling students who never attended public schools, but the public schools lose money by paying for them from their budget.

So, for example, there are students transferring out of Jewish day schools to the new charter, but the public school in their home district must pay their tuition. A

And there are students starting kindergarten who never attended public school, but their tuition comes out of the public school budget.

As she explains:

Only 110 of their 194 students are from East Brunswick, which seriously undermines the idea that this school was “needed” or “wanted” in the community it was approved to serve.  If they need to cast such a wide net to fill their seats, what does that mean about the NJDOE’s decision to approve this charter, and it’s decision to keep it open despite the VERY limited interest in East Brunswick?

According to the official enrollment numbers, Hatikvah serves 13 students from Highland Park, costing our district just shy of $165,000.  Highland Park had absolutely NO SAY in the approval process when Hatikvah was being considered by the NJDOE, yet proportionately the school is having almost the same impact it has in East Brunswick (Hatikvah serves .08% of Highland Park’s public school students, and 1.3% of East Brunswick’s).  

Highland Park administrators have found that the majority of children attending Hatikvah have never been served in our public schools – either parents place their children into Hatikvah in Kindergarten, or they transfer from private, religious schools. Nonetheless, our district is billed $12,692 (13 students at a cost of $165,000 = $12,692) per student, so the Hatikvah bill is just a loss of revenue from our district with no cost savings at all.  

In addition, the sending districts must pay transportation of the charter students, another $900 per student.

Who are the losers in this deal?

First, the traditional Jewish day schools lose enrollment and are harmed, just as Catholic schools are harmed when charters open.

Second, the competition has cost the East Brunswick school. It added full-day kindergarten to compete, which is good, but made up for the lost revenue by cutting:

The elementary foreign language program
The summer Academy for at-risk students
21 extra-curricular clubs
3 sports programs

So, to open a charter for several dozen students, the children in the entire district lose.

And 20 more such charters are in the works.