NJBiz features Sean Scarborough in "Corner Office" section
Creation of a charter school in New Jersey is no easy task, evident from the stories told over the years by founders of the 73 charter schools now open in the state, as well as other organizers whose proposed schools that never got off the ground.
Many would be surprised to know the paramount challenge in building a successful charter school in New Jersey has nothing to do with the curriculum, student and faculty recruitment, or lingering distrust from the local public schools.
The problem has been the financing and construction of a long-term facility that can accommodate a 21st century curriculum. Land costs in New Jersey are astronomical, while construction prices with a reputable builder often are daunting for even the most aggressive fundraiser.
New Jersey needs to create a funding mechanism that levels the playing field between traditional public schools and charter schools, which have been coping with an inherent disadvantage since they first opened in the state in 1997.
If a local board of education is interested in building or expanding a school, the process is simple: There is a special election for voters to approve the issuing of a tax-exempt bond. Taxpayers then pay back the bond over a number of years, and the funds are incorporated in the overall property tax bill; most taxpayers don’t even know or recall what the long-term debt is for.
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