The only charter that currently uses that preference is Newark Charter School, which has almost 2,000 students in grades K-10 and is expanding into a full K-12 school. Eastside Charter and the Delaware Met have approval to do so in their charter, but have not yet exercised it because they have not had more applicants than available seats.
So changing the law will have minimal effect on the charter school movement.
Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, says Newark Charter’s five-mile radius preference leads to de facto segregation because it is situated in a mostly white, more affluent area of town.
I thought the call for charter schools was due tradition public schools struggling with closing the achievement gap. Doesn’t sound like this is the case with Newark Charter School.
Kowalko has proposed House Bill 83, which would eliminate charters’ ability to give preference to nearby families. He has long criticized the five-mile radius provision, and is a frequent charter school critic.
Greg Meece, the director of Newark Charter, says he’s “confused” as to why lawmakers would want to prevent charters from having a geographical preference when traditional schools have feeder patterns that are often smaller than five miles.
“The legislature listed this preference in order to keep communities together in order to encourage parent involvement in their schools and to mirror what is done in traditional schools,” Meece said.
I see the merits of Meece’s comment but, Newark Charter limits school choice whereas in traditional public schools students can choice across school districts. So Newark Charter School ignores the spirit of the state’s Choice School Law. Should that be allowed?
Meece argues it doesn’t make sense to compare Newark Charter’s student population to Christina’s because the two are completely different. Christina’s schools include many urban Wilmington students in addition to the Newark suburbs in which the charter is located.
Newark Charter School is located in Christina School District and is funded in part by local school taxes collected by Christina School District. Do each of Charter School of Newark parents pay school taxes equal to the per student cost? Perhaps Charter School of Newark be funded with the exact school tax revenues collected from parents of their students.