The Montclair Community Pre-K (MCPK) administration and Board of Trustees, in a press release Friday, officially declared its opposition to the application of the Montclair Charter School, previously known as the Fulbright Academy Charter School. The MCPK has taken this action for the following reasons:
Neither the MCPK, nor any of its employees or board members, has had any involvement with the charter school application. The Montclair Charter School application alleges that the proposed charter school will enjoy a “natural relationship” with the MCPK for recruiting students, but there has been no discussion about this — or anything else — between the two groups.
A charter school would drain money from the existing public schools. According to a letter sent by Montclair’s Interim Superintendent Ron Bolandi to NJ Education Commissioner David Hespe on May 20, 2016, the state’s final approval of the Montclair Charter School will initially cause the Montclair School District to transfer $2,625,000 to the new charter school. This figure will increase to as much as $4,825,000 if and when the school’s student body grows to its full capacity (K-8). The loss of these funds will necessitate cuts to staff and services that will affect every student in the district, and most significantly those who are at-risk.
Down the line, this could impact the township’s funding priorities as well, potentially resulting in cuts to, or a total loss of, early childhood education. This chain of events might mean that the MCPK would be unable to offer financial assistance to those who cannot afford a pre-k education. Given that the MCPK’s mission is to prepare all of Montclair’s children for success in kindergarten and beyond, regardless of the family’s ability to pay, this could negatively impact the school’s ability to do so.
The MCPK stands with the Montclair Public School District on this issue. As an integral part of the public education system in Montclair, the school has a vested interest in seeing that every component of our public education system works together. The MCPK partners directly with the Montclair Public School District and stands with them in solidarity on this issue. It is important to note that the Montclair Township Council opposes the proposed charter school as well.
The Montclair Community Pre-K’s families, administration, faculty and Board of Trustees are a diverse and inclusive group, mirroring the demographics of the Township of Montclair. Our public school system should be diverse and inclusive as well. In order to maintain these values, the MCPK feels it is critical to stand together as a community in opposition to the proposed charter school.