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Updated: Sports Ban On Charter School Students Could Be Lifted, Albeit At A Cost

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said that the policy banning charter school students from playing on district sports teams could be relaxed.


Update: Central Jersey College Prep Charter School would be interested in paying to have its students participate on the school district’s sports teams, the charter school’s principal said.

CJCP CEO Namik Sercan made the comment after the Feb. 25 round of open house presentations at the school.

Sercan said the school gets about $13,000 per child per year from the school district. Schools Superintendent John Ravally estimates (in original story, below) that about 1.6 percent of the tax money the district must divert to the charter schools is targeted to activities such as sports, which translates to about $200 per student, if accurate.

Based on that, Sercan said the school “would definitely be interested in paying the district $200 for every child that’s attending their sports teams. We’re definitely OK with this.”

“At the end of the day, as long as our resources are available, we’re definitely interested in helping the child get the best academic experience in terms of academics, extra-curriculars, sports, music, what have you,” he said. “We’re a public school and our mission and vision is to help the child get the best educational experience in their educational career.”

Franklin Township students attend other charter schools in the area, including the Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School on Pierce Street.

 

Original Story: Charter school students may be allowed to play on school district sports teams after all, but that permission may come with a cost.

Details are far from being finalized, but initial indications are that a rewriting of the policy banning charter school students, imposed last year, would entail some form of payment from the charter schools to the district. That payment could possibly take the form of a retention of some of the money the district pays annual to the township’s two charter schools, Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School and Central Jersey College Prep Charter School.

The board in September 2016 voted to ban most charter school students from playing on district sports teams, beginning with the 2017-18 school year. The policy change “grandfathers” those township residents in charter schools who played on a district middle or high school team during the 2016-17 school year, and it allows those students to play on district teams until they graduate high school, provided that they play every year.

The policy change angered charter school parents who showed up en masse at the September 2016 meeting and were vocal in their opposition. Board members Richard Seamon and Patricia Stanley voted against the ban.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said the idea to relax the ban was broached in separate meetings he held earlier this year with groups of parents from each school.

“The ask was from parents of kids in the community who attend charter schools, would I as a representative of the board put it on the policy committee for at least some discussion to see if there was some kind of avenue to allow that participation to happen again,” Ravally said after the Feb. 23 school board meeting. “The policy committee said let’s throw it to the finance committee and see if something can be done. The finance committee said to me, there’s some possibility, but you have to do some calculations and we have to revisit it, but we also need to talk with the charter school groups.”

“There is that willingness to try and reach out and see if there is something can be done,” he said.

Ravally estimated that about 1.6 percent of the per-pupil payment made from the district to the charter schools covers activities such as sports.

The district is expected this school year to divert nearly $10 million to charter schools attended by township students, mostly at TEECS and CJCPCS.

Ravally said that the district would have to calculate what it costs to run sports programs in grades 6 to 12, then divide that by the number of participating students to derive the per-pupil cost.

“That’s what the boards have to consider, the charter school boards and this board,” he said.

Ravally said he didn’t think it would come as a surprise to the charter schools that the board would want some kind of payment for relaxing the ban.

“There was a recognition that much of this discussion that’s gone on recently is an economic issue, so logically it does make sense that if there is some money following the child to fund that program, maybe some of that money should come back to afford those students the opportunity to participate,” he said. “Realizing it’s an economic issue, I don’t think anyone would be surprised.”

Should the board decide it’s amenable to the idea and a cost-per-pupil calculated, the board would then have to negotiate with the two charter school boards of trustees, Ravally said.

 

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