Township Part of NJ's Charter School Explosion
Gloucester Township's charter founder became involved in education after home-schooling her children.
Gloucester Township was among 23 New Jersey towns pegged by the Christie administration in January for a new charter school.
The Kingdom Charter School of Leadership will open this fall in Blackwood in the former St. Agnes School building, located on Church Street.
Wandria McCall-Hampton is the school’s founder.
A former paralegal, McCall-Hampton quit her job several years ago to home-school her children. She had decided, in part due to large class sizes, that her son wasn’t getting what he needed out of a public school education.
“I really started getting into the whole thing about how children learn—they each have a different learning style,” McCall-Hampton told Patch in February. “For example, my son needed a very colorful, movement-oriented learning approach. All of the stories I had him write were about dinosaurs, which he loved, and he learned his multiplication tables on the basketball court.”
WHAT ROLE FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS?
This report is part of a joint project between NJSpotlight.com (an issues-oriented news site that focuses on policy, politics, and community) and Patch.com to provide both a statewide and local look at the politics of charter schools in many NJ communities, and the tensions that sometimes arise regarding their funding in the age of budget cutbacks.
Statewide: Charter schools in suburbia under debate
East Brunswick: Questioning charter school's right to exist
Hoboken: Can the public schools compete, by getting better?
Livingston: How many Mandarin schools is too many?
Morristown, Morris Township & Morris Plains: Unity Charter may be a jewel, but it's one with costs
Princeton: Everyone's mad about Mandarin
Red Bank: Charter schools face budget woes too
South Brunswick: A debate or a shouting match?
Teaneck: Innovation or duplication?
Her unique teaching style caused other parents to seek out McCall-Hampton for tutoring, and that soon evolved into a day-care program run out of her home.
Kingdom Charter School initially will only house a maximum of 210 students, with classes from kindergarten through third grade. It is expected to eventually be a K-6 school.
The school will be funded by a $1.157 million payment from the Gloucester Township Public Schools’ 2011-12 budget.
Some locals have expressed concerns with that scenario, despite officials, including state Department of Education staffers and Hampton-McCall, frequently noting that charter schools technically are public schools.
“Although they receive money from government funds, charter schools are not subject to the same rules, regulations and statutes that apply to other public schools, and do not operate under the same constraints,” longtime Gloucester Township Public Schools board member Andrew Lalli recently said in an email to Patch. “Charter schools lack the oversight of publicly accountable boards and institutions, and often do not receive all of the public funds. … Although it can be argued that charter schools are designed to bring competition to the administrative side of education, criticism of for-profit involvement with education are pretty clear.”
Of the new charter school, Gloucester Township Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Seddon told Patch: “I think competition is good.”