A Senate Committee approved a bill last week that would allow some non-public schools to convert to charter schools.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Aug. 25 released S1858 (Lesniak). The Senate bill, with amendments from the committee, would permit high-performing non-public schools located in persistently under-performing public school districts to convert to charter schools. The legislation passed the Assembly on June 29 by a 59-14 vote, and is now poised for a vote by the full Senate.
According to the bill, the governing body of a non-public school may submit an application to the state Commissioner of Education to convert to a charter school. The application must certify that, upon conversion to charter school status, the school will prohibit religious instruction, events and activities that promote religious views, and the display of religious symbols. The bill also says that the name of the proposed charter school cannot include any religious reference.
Financing Host public school districts would experience a limited financial impact for the education of those non-public school students who remain in the facility after its conversion to charter status. In the school’s first year of operation as a charter, the state would pay the full cost of educating those students who chose to remain in the school. (First-year full state funding would result from the fact that these students had not been included in the host district’s resident enrollment up to that point.)
In subsequent years of operation, the students would be included in the host district’s resident enrollment, its equalization aid would be adjusted accordingly, and the charter school funding mechanism would apply. The district of residence would provide 90 percent of state equalization aid and local tax levy per pupil to the charter school.
Students Affected According to testimony at the Senate hearing, it is currently impossible to determine how many eligible non-public schools will opt to convert under the provisions of this legislation
As amended, S1858 is identical to Assembly Bill 2806 (Jasey, Coutinho). While the legislation is set for a vote by the full Senate, no voting date has been set.