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Charter and renaissance schools now have a way to support their building projects through a low-interest loan program. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill Tuesday approving the funding program.
Harry Lee, president and CEO of the New Jersey Public Charter School Association, called it a “landmark” move because the state never funded charter schools’ capital improvement projects.
“This is a huge step in the right direction,” he said. “To have a charter facilities loan program on the books is a major win for students and families in our urban charter schools.”
Over the next decade, $900 million is needed to address the building needs of charter schools, according to a survey by the association.
The state Economic Development Authority will administer the new loan program. The total amount for the fund will be allocated during the budgeting process.
Ultimately, this is a compromise from the original proposal, which sought to give charter and renaissance schools the ability to compete alongside traditional public schools not in School Development Authority or SDA districts for capital improvement projects.
SDA districts are among the poorest in the state. A series of court decisions have charged the state with putting these districts on par with wealthier ones. The original proposal would have created a fund specifically for schools in SDA districts.