With six schools in Lacey, the township may welcome one more as an application for a nonprofit, parent-led charter school has been submitted to the State Department of Education.
Pamela Brown submitted an application for the Creative Studies Charter School on Oct. 15. If approved, the school is anticipated to be located at Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center at the intersection of Church Lane and Route 9 as of July 2012.
“The mission of Creative Studies Charter School is to offer the community a public school of choice that deepens student learning, increases student achievement and strengthens the academic rigor of a comprehensive, standards based education by integrating the arts into the curriculum,” the application states.
Creative Studies has a projected enrollment of 150 students in grades three to five to start. If the school is successful, Brown anticipates an enrollment of 500 from kindergarten to eighth grade by year 11.
The school will integrate music, art, drama and movement with academic subjects utilizing the Getty Foundation’s Discipline Based Education.
The arts increase student’s creativity and flexibility, Brown said.
“Public education is not one size fits all," she said. "Gifted students, typical learners, remedial students and students who are disengaged can all greatly benefit from approaching academics through their natural interests of music, art and drama.”
The arts integrated curriculum is aligned with the National Common Core State Standards and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards.
The application continues to say that the traditional curriculum fails to reach a significant percentage of students, citing Lacey Township School District’s NJ ASK test scores.
“Creative Studies Charter School offers a creativity-rich environment for the many children who do not learn best by 'traditional' methods,” Brown said. “We use innovative, research-based learning methods based upon creative arts integration, an educational approach not available in the traditional Lacey Township public school classroom.”
The state's projected total budget for Creative Studies Charter School is $1,577,351 for a student enrollment of 150 students.
“The funding for charter schools is set by law, it is 90 percent of the per pupil cost of the student's resident school district,” Faith Sarafin, state Department of Education spokesperson, said. “The money flows through the school district to the charter school.”
The per pupil cost in Lacey Township is $12,252 for the 2011-12 school year. The school district would have to pay the Creative Studies Charter School $1,654,020.
Creative Studies is allowing for an easy transition for the Lacey Township School District by offering three grades initially, Brown said. The charter school may also look to the school district to bid on contracts for food services or Child Study Teams.
“Parents expect a thorough and efficient public system of education delivered in a cost effective manner,” Brown said. “Lacey parents go above and beyond to support our children in their academic and extracurricular efforts and are taking a much more proactive role in education,” Brown said.
Currently, students are placed in a district school based on their location rather than their learning style and educational needs, she said. Creative Studies offers a “choice to select an appropriate learning environment.”
The charter school follows a year-round calendar and would be open to all students. Children would not have to take any entrance exams. Admission would be based on availability.
For the first year, the anticipated number of staff positions includes one lead person, one school business administrator, one secretary, one nurse, one administrative supervisor, eight teachers and two tutors.
According to the application, the school would be located on the grounds of the historic Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center, also known as the birthplace of Universalism.
But currently, there is no agreement between the charter school and Murray Grove, Executive Director Louise Ille said.
“We spoke about the possibility,” she said. “It’s a long shot right now.”
but its story began in 1770 when John Murray gave the first Universalist sermon in the country, Michael Masters, assistant director of Murray Grove told Patch in February.
The state will approve or deny the charter school in January. If the school is denied, the applicant may apply again, Sarafin said. To date, the state has not received objections.
Lacey School District officials weren't immediately available for comment. Continue to follow Lacey Patch for more details and comments later this week.
The application for the charter school is attached to this story as a PDF.