Home Voorhees News Voorhees district opposes planned charter school

Voorhees district opposes planned charter school

Voorhees has followed suit with Cherry Hill in appealing the decision to allow a charter school to be located in the area.

Regis Academy would be located in Cherry Hill and receive students from Somerdale, Lawnside, Cherry Hill, and Voorhees.

Voorhees Superintendent of Schools Raymond Brosel does not think the town needs a charter school.

“Our children are receiving appropriate and excellent education,” Brosel said. “Our district is a high performing district.”

The charter school will cost Voorhees $727,000 a year. There is no funding from the state to help defray the cost.

While he says he has no philosophical objection to charter schools, Brosel said he has opposed charter schools in the area in the past.

He said he hopes for a fair, honest hearing and a dramatic realization that the cap law affects districts like Voorhees.

The $727,000 makes up 89 percent of the school district’s cap space. The budget can only be increased by no more than 2 percent every year.

Irene Afek, coordinator of elementary programs in Voorhees, said there is a bill in the state senate that would allow for local communities to either agree or disagree with the establishment of a charter school. As it stands right now municipalities have no say and the decision to create a charter school rests with the state.

Afek said Voorhees has been notified about two new applications received from the state, one of which is in Somerdale.

“We will be carefully reviewing these two applications” and have the board of education look at them, she said.

One of those two new schools would cost Voorhees $1.9 million annually.

“So we’re looking at these applications very carefully,” Afek said.

Amir Khan, pastor of Solid Rock Worship Center in Cherry Hill, is spearheading the effort to create Regis Academy.

Regis will be a charter school that has a particular focus: entrepreneurship, leadership, and uses a microsociety curriculum.

“You see children excel tremendously with this system,” Khan said.

The school will start with grades K-4, and add a grade every year until eighth.

He said students will be taught the core curriculum classes with business and entrepreneurship classes intertwined.

Students will also role play and have a marketplace in the auditorium where they buy and sell goods.

They will also create business plans and learn how to reincorporate if they go bankrupt.

There will also be a government with judges and lawyers. For example, a child caught running in the hallway can get a ticket and have to go to court.

Originally from Camden, Khan moved to Cherry Hill in 1967 and lives in Voorhees now. He graduated from Cherry Hill West in 1974 and moved to Voorhees in 1980.

His three children went through the Voorhees school system and one grandchild is currently in Voorhees Middle School. Khan went to Rutgers University.

Business is one of his passions.

“I just always enjoyed entrepreneurship, always enjoyed business,” Khan said. He started a water ice business while in high school that was very successful in part because of a mentor.

Khan said entrepreneurship “is the heartbeat of America.

“What you see and experience with Regis Academy is a school set up to teach entrepreneurship, to teach business, to teach leadership,” he added.

While he said Cherry Hill and Voorhees school districts are “exceptional,” Khan said he is concerned with how local schools stack up to those in other countries.

He said there needs to be a mixture of global and local, called “glocal,” lessons taught in school.

“If you think you’re going to get an education today and just be local, it’s not happening,” Khan said, noting America ranks around 25th in math and sciences compared to 29 other developed countries.

“I am not knocking our school systems here in America,” he said. “I am saying this — if we don’t keep up we’re losing it in the global market.”

Khan said the appeal filed by Voorhees “concerns” him.

He said the Voorhees school administration was intrigued by the microsociety approach and was supportive of the curriculum.

“It shocked me,” Khan said, adding his was “disappointed” and “hurt.

“But it’s not stopping our vision,” he continued. “I keep my eye on the ball.”

Khan said the $1.9 million Cherry Hill has to kick in is just a little over 1 percent of the Cherry Hill budget.

Also, he said there will be no tenure for teachers and that he believes in merit pay.

“They do bad we let them go,” Khan said.

He said Regis Academy will have a better teacher to student ratio (1/16) than in Cherry Hill and Voorhees.

“Everybody deserves a choice,” Khan said.

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