Planet Princeton

Princeton Charter School receives record number of entries for student lottery

The Princeton Charter School received a record number of entries for the student lottery for the 2016-17 academic year, school officials said.

Yesterday, school officials drew names for 92 slots at the school at a public drawing. The number of Princeton students registering for the lottery increased by 25 percent over the previous year, rising to 320 students, school officials said.

Last year, 260 Princeton students register for the lottery. Over the past five years, the school has had an average of 262 Princeton students registering for the lottery. The numbers do not include out-of-district registrants.

“This enthusiastic response is a clear indication of parental demand and support for  the outstanding educational opportunities the Princeton Charter School offers to Princeton children,” Head of School Larry Patton said. “We received applicants from neighborhoods all across Princeton, and our new weighted lottery system and extensive outreach efforts worked to improve diversity at Princeton Charter School.”

Patton said 9.4 percent of the available seats went to economically disadvantaged students.

“This figure is in line with Princeton’s demographics and represents a cross-section of the community. It validates our multi-pronged strategy for increasing our economic diversity by moving our primary entry grade to kindergarten, expanding the number seats in K-2, and weighting our lottery,” Patton said. “Half of all income eligible students received a seat, and the remaining families are on the wait list for any additional seats that become available between now and September.”

Seats become available for wait listed students when students who entered the lottery decide not to attend the charter school, or when families decide to move out of town in the spring or summer, Patton said. “We’re extremely proud of our work to make all families living in our community aware of the tuition-free, first rate education offered at PCS and are excited to welcome our new families in September,” he said.

Last month the state approved the charter school’s proposal to expand its student population by 76 students over the next two academic years. The state also approved the district’s proposal to use a weighted lottery system to increase the chances for economically disadvantaged students to win seats at the school. The charter school will also expand its programs and services as part of its plans. The charter school’s expansion is controversial. The Princeton Public School has filed two lawsuits related to the expansion. Officials for the public schools argue the expansion will have a devastating financial impact on the public schools and that the expansion will cost the public schools $1.2 million annually. A Latino advocacy group based in Freehold has also filed a federal civil rights complaint against the charter school and other charter schools in Monmouth and Middlesex counties, alleging that the schools promote segregation.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Vivek Pai

    Yeah, “as far as federal labor law is concerned” is the only narrow scope for that decision, and in the very next paragraph, it says that the decisions apply only to the specific disputes.

    “The National Labor Relations Board decided in two separate cases last week that — as far as federal labor law is concerned — charter schools are not public schools but private corporations.

    The decisions apply only to the specific disputes from which they arose, involving unionization efforts at charter schools in New York and in Pennsylvania. ”

    Yes, PCS is considered a separate school district in terms of NJ administrative purposes. So what? It doesn’t charge money, it accepts students purely non-selectively, and it is nonprofit. For all intents and purposes, it is a public school.

    Do you also go around complaining that Rutgers isn’t a public school since it answers to its board of governors, and not citizens directly?

  • Joe

    PCS is a privately run entity taking public funds. It is unanswerable to the duly elected Princeton school board in its day to day operations and affairs. It amounts to a separate school district unto itself. There have been many court cases in which charter schools have been ruled to be private entities or even private contractors whether they be for-profit or non-profit. In 2016, the National Labor Relations Board ruled: “The National Labor Relations Board decided in two separate cases last week that — as far as federal labor law is concerned — charter schools are not public schools but private corporations.” From the Washington Post, 8-30-16.

  • Liz Winslow

    You may head over to my Facebook page where I’ve posted a video from the last BoE meeting where I was describing how my child’s special needs were missed and he was bullied at PPS, and also see how at the end of my remarks, a PPS teacher jumped up to call me a liar, and the president of the BoE mocked me. Good times.

    Extrapolate lil ole me across the district – I don’t think people “convince themselves” of the need for charter unless they like an awful lot of social isolation. You do it because you have to.

  • Vivek Pai

    PCS is a non-profit public school. It has no CEO, nor is it related to school privatization. Trying to inaccurately paint PCS as related to any of these things suggests that you’ve run out of any meaningful arguments.

  • Joe

    “In your reply below, you seem to want to lump public charter school supporters with Donald Trump, Chris Christie, and Betsy Devos…” Excuse me, but I did mention Obama and Cory Booker. In addition, I would add that the push for school privatization seems to be bipartisan. I think it is a huge mistake to abandon our public school system for charters, vouchers and home schooling. Now I will be scolded for not being Princeton specific. Wow, can’t win with this group of PPS-haters. All these attack helicopter parents should form a contingent and meet with Chris Christie and encourage him to close down PPS, fire all the teachers and administrators and give it over to the CEOs of PCS. That should work, turn it all over to PCS since it’s the miracle school of the century.

  • CivilDialogue

    ” I think the PPS do a great job of meeting the needs of the kids.” Other people have a very different opinion and that is why some parents chose to start the charter school.

    “When you have such a big system, there is always the possibility of
    occasional lapses. But such lapses can be addressed and dealt with by
    being persistent and maintaining constant contact with the teachers,
    administrators and, if need be, the school board and/or superintendent.”

    There are many people who have had very different experiences. If the lapses aren’t addressed through persistent contact, what is a parent to do? And what if the lapses aren’t occasional but are ongoing and part of how the schools are structured?

  • Vivek Pai

    Paying Princeton property taxes and then having to “[maintain] constant contact with the teachers, administrators and, if need be, the school board and/or superintendent” does not sound like my idea of fun. It was for precisely that reason that we decided to enter the PCS lottery after a few years. Not everyone wants to be a full-time helicopter parent.

  • Joe

    “It makes no sense to run two parallel school systems for K-8.” I agree with that statement. Comparing PCS to PPS is like comparing apples to oranges. They are two very different entities. The Princeton Public Schools educate over 90% of the children, they do all the heavy lifting, they have higher percentages of the more expensive kids to educate, poorer children and special needs kids. I DID NOT SAY THAT PCS HAS NO SPECIAL ED KIDS but that PPS have the higher percentages, even allowing for their bigger enrollment. Sorry, I don’t accept the premise that: “the traditional public schools haven’t done more to address the needs that are apparently going unmet.” That’s the trope that’s repeated as if it was some kind of given wisdom. I think the PPS do a great job of meeting the needs of the kids. Are they perfect? Of course not, there is always need for improvement even in such a good school system as exists in Princeton. When you have such a big system, there is always the possibility of occasional lapses. But such lapses can be addressed and dealt with by being persistent and maintaining constant contact with the teachers, administrators and, if need be, the school board and/or superintendent.

  • CivilDialogue

    A different way to view it is that it is a difficult decision to change schools and a parent only does if they are convinced that their child’s well-being depends on it.

  • CivilDialogue

    When you write about the shameful ads, did you miss the full page Town Topics ad that was against the charter school? How about the full-court press in social media and the letters to the editor accusing Princeton Charter School and their parents of being racist elites?

    In your reply below, you seem to want to lump public charter school supporters with Donald Trump, Chris Christie, and Betsy Devos (who the Mass. Charter School Association opposed). A civil dialogue can’t consist of labeling people with opposite views as extremists or linking them with extremists.

    There should be a rational discussion about the many issues involved here. It makes no sense to run two parallel school systems for K-8. It also doesn’t make sense to ignore the opinions of the princeton parents who are choosing the charter school. The charter school has existed for twenty years. It’s hard to understand why the traditional public schools haven’t done more to address the needs that are apparently going unmet. It’s long overdue for such conversations to happen.

  • Vivek Pai

    I’ll ignore all of the off-topic discussion and reiterate – if there isn’t a venue for pro-expansion taxpayers to express their views in their taxpayer-funded organizations, like the town council or BoE, then it’s entirely appropriate if someone wants to purchase an ad in Town Topics to express their views. Practically everything the BoE said about the expansion, like firing 15 teachers or the expansion costs eating the entire 2% cap, turned out to be false. Isn’t that more offensive than a private citizen taking out an ad to express his personal views?

  • Joe

    BoE meetings? Ah yes, a school board elected by the whole community as opposed to the PCS “school board” elected by a tiny elite, even though PCS gets public tax monies. Does the general public get equal time at PCS board meetings? All that being said, I don’t know why the PCS commenters here are so defensive and uptight. Trump and DeVos are opposed to public schools but are pro charter schools and school vouchers. Christie is rabidly against the public schools and a big booster for charter schools and school vouchers. The same for Cory Booker. Both the Bush #2 and Obama administrations promoted charter schools and school privatization. The regular public schools are not even on their radar.

  • Vivek Pai

    No, meaning that if someone asks _only_ you whether you can change your behavior, it’s often a request to not exercise your own rights. Couching it with “as a teacher” and likening it to children arguing is an implicit infantilization of the person to whom you’re speaking, whether that was the intent or not. So I’ll repeat your own request to you – maybe you could try to be nice. Or, one step further – what do we say when we’ve accidentally said something mean to someone else?

  • Publius

    Meaning that you don’t care if a person asks if maybe we could try to be nice?

    Good to know.

  • George

    Hey, 22% is exactly the same percentage that PCS is expanding its number of students. Why would PPS have any problem with such a slight increase? 🙂

  • Vivek Pai

    I’m not overly sympathetic to unilateral requests to improve discourse.

  • Publius

    Again, as a teacher, I’m not swayed by the “but he/she did it too!” defense. And I’m not arguing one side or the other, just remarking on the breakdown of civil discourse — victory laps aside.

  • WhatInTheWorldz

    I don’t know that it’s the kids. It’s the parents, isn’t it? Personally, I don’t understand what everybody’s beef is about the Princeton schools. But, hey, if they’ve convinced themselves that their kids must not go there, so be it. If it means having fewer uptight parents whining and complaining about PPS, so much the better.

  • Vivek Pai

    a) what does it matter what is said in non-Princeton charter school discussions? If this is a discussion of PPS and PCS, then outside discussions are beside the point

    b) what does it matter what one person said in an ad he took in Town Topics? It’s one person’s opinion, and taking out an ad is one way to get your opinion out. In comparison, it’s not like any PCS supporters can get access to the parent e-mail lists that PPS uses to drive their advocacy, or get equal time at the BoE meetings to refute what’s presented there.

    c) if peer-reviewed scientific findings are the bar, that would disqualify basically all of the Princeton-focused material put forth by PPS. Publishing on a blog is not a scientific peer review

  • Joe

    I agree with you Publius. Charter schools, by design, are not meant to complement or work in cooperation with the district schools. This is not just a Princeton phenomenon, it’s nation-wide. The charter cheerleaders (nationally), talk about competition and “choice,” not cooperation. I don’t remember PPS advocates taking out full page ads in Town Topics demeaning and smearing PCS. That despicable anti-JWS ad is always glossed over. 90% of the children are still educated in the very excellent PPS. The fact that PCS has a waiting list proves nothing negative about the district schools. A waiting list is not a peer reviewed scientific finding.

  • Dan D’Menny

    Wow. . . maybe they/we should have approved that Chinese-immersion school after all . . . that would put a wrinkle in the PPS/PCS discussion, ehh?

  • Vivek Pai

    Take a look at the Keep PPS Strong Facebook page. They refer to the increase in application as a “slight increase,” and when a commenter pointed out that 22% is hardly a slight increase, they deleted the comment. Someone could reasonably point out that even with a huge, coordinated negative campaign by the school district, the town council, and other parties, PCS’s applications actually went _up_. That says a lot about the demand for PCS in this town.

  • Liz Winslow

    Have you taken part in the discussions for the past four months, including the ones where the PCS Board of Trustees were baselessly accused of corruption, the school of segregation and racism, etc.? Where parents were attacked for being without conscience? It was constantly playing whack-a-mole with the latest rumor someone spread – and why? Because someone’s ego at the PTO was threatened, or the teacher’s union was worried?

    I’m all about being civil, but at this point? I’m taking a bit of a victory dance that all of the lies and defamation accomplished nothing other than, maybe, publicizing PCS’s existence to kids who could benefit from it, just like mine have.

  • Publius

    Would it please be possible for these discussions to remain civil instead of snarky? The meaness and nastiness of comments on this site, about this issue, lead me (a teacher) to despair about our future.

  • Liz Winslow

    Well holy cow, lots of people want to go, and lots of economic diversity was reflected. Hoodathunkit?

    Seriously – NOW will the average Joe/Jane pause and wonder why so many kids who evidently can’t afford private want out of PPS?

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