Susan Bastnagle, Public Information Officer for the Cherry Hill Public Schools, confirmed in the article that just this week the NJDOE sent Cherry Hill a revised enrollment projection based on the numbers Khan proposed in the January 26th letter I received via OPRA.
Really? This is how the NJDOE functions? The week before district budgets are due Cherry Hill gets not one but two enrollment projections and the NJDOE can't tell them which to use? Based on the $1.9M for the original projection of 169 students, the NJDOE is telling Cherry Hill to budget somewhere between $562,100 for 50 kids or $2.1M for 186 kids.
Well, that's helpful.
FIVE! Cherry Hill is being asked to budget perhaps as much as $2.1M for the 2012-2013 school year when in five months Regis Academy has received applications from FIVE students.
I checked with the OPRA custodian yesterday and she said that to date they have not received a response from Regis Academy.
I guess we'll just have to take Amir Khan's word for it when he tells the Courier Post:
Khan said that as of Thursday, there were 65 applications in — just over 50 percent of them from the original four districts.
And don't miss this gem:
Our recruitment numbers are on track. In fact, we’re ahead of the game.
Need I remind Amir Khan of the recruitment timeline in his own application? Please see pages 126 and 127:
Regis Enrollement Timeline
So between a press release on October 10th and the initial enrollment submission on February 15th, Regis Academy was supposed to conduct Information Sessions throughout the region, post admission information, make applications available, and conduct three enrollment periods with lotteries if needed.
What happened? How did all those months of work only turn up 37 kids, and most of all, how does this demonstrate that Regis Academy is "on track?" Sounds more like they have crashed into the bleachers...
Notice that after February 15th Regis is supposed to move on to hiring staff, notifying districts of transportation needs and adopting and submitting their budget to the NJDOE by the end of this month. How in the world can they do this based on the enrollment of 37 students?
Even if Amir Khan is being truthful when he states in the Courier Post that he now has "65 applications in — just over 50 percent of them from the original four districts," that still puts him back to about 37 students!
Also notice that June 1st is the final day for late enrollments. If Regis needs 90% enrollment from it's four host districts to get it's final charter, that means they will need to enroll another 188 kids between now and June 1st.
Now here is the $64,000 question. If the NJDOE denied Amir Khan's request to expand Regis' sending districts, why did the NJDOE send out revised enrollment estimates based on Amir Khan's projections in his January 26th letter?
Cherry Hill confirmed in the Courier Post article that they received the revised bill for 50 students, and the Lawnside Superintendent confirmed to me in an email that he received the revised estimate of 20 students on Tuesday!
Now that they have gotten caught with their hand in the cookie jar, the NJDOE is saying, "No, no, no, they can't make any amendments to their application!" But notice how in the letter to Smarick this is EXACTLY what Amir Khan asks to do:
With the expanded definition of a contiguous District in Region of Residence being explored, I am submitting this letter of request asking you to explore the possibilities of the Regis Academy Charter School being able to amend its application to expand our District in Region of Residence. (emphasis mine)
Isn't it funny how my OPRA request didn't turn up a response to Amir Khan's letter from Deputy Commissioner Smarick or any other NJDOE employee? So let's review what has transpired between January 26th and now and see if the NJDOE has been living up to their claim that an application can't be amended.
At the public information session on February 16th Amir Khan told those in attendance that Regis was given permission to expand it's districts. He even bragged that now he could take kids from Hoboken if he wanted!
The letter from the Office of Charter Schools on February 23rd says NOTHING about limiting the districts, just that a district by district breakdown is needed.
The districts of Cherry Hill and Lawnside confirmed that just this week they received revised bills based on the numbers in Amir Khan's letter.
Kind of flies in the face of the NJDOE's claim that they denied Amir Khan's request and that an application can't be amended, doesn't it?
I suppose this is just par for the course. Acting Commissioner Cerf's NJDOE does whatever they want, whenever they want, to whatever district they want, the laws and regulations that govern charter schools be damned! All the while coddling and cajoling unproven charter operators.
Until they get caught.
Which is why I won't be going away any time soon...