Home > Uncategorized > Newark Charter applications are here – *facepalm*

Newark Charter applications are here – *facepalm*

October 26, 2012

The new admission applications for Newark Charter School are out, with one troubling feature removed and new ones added instead.

Can you find your utility bills?
The previous requirement that you authorize NCS to rummage through your school records pre-lottery is fortunately gone. But now you have to include a current utility bill with your application to prove your address, or the application is rejected with no recourse.

So if you are planning to apply to Newark Charter, hang on to those utility bills. If for some reason you don’t get the utility bill directly, better go ask the person who does get it. And if you are on paperless billing like me, I guess you can just print out your statements from the web.

But most concerning is the possibility that families are living in some situation where they don’t receive utility bills directly, and don’t fit the white-picket-fence homeowner model suggested by the utility bill requirement. It’s not clear whether the parent’s name has to be the name on the utility bill. The instructions on the application say “All applications must be submitted with a current utility bill indicating the service address and the name of the home owner.”

If you don’t have a utility bill, or aren’t sure about the acceptability of your utility bill, I strongly suggest you walk into the school and clear it up well before the deadline.

Realistically, there needs to be alternate procedures for establishing residency.

No habla español
I couldn’t find any Spanish version of the application forms or instructions on the NCS web site. However, board minutes do contain some references to creation of some Spanish-language material.

When is the application due?
It’s not really clear when the applications are due. The NCS website says the open enrollment period ends November 26, while the admissions lottery procedure document says they are due November 21. I’d suggest you get them in by the 21st if not sooner. Given the uncertainty here I’d suggest hand-delivering them to the school and getting a signature, or send them by certified mail.

At any rate, the NCS Open House for K-8 is November 5, 6:00 pm at NCS. I couldn’t find an open house or informational meeting for the high school.

By the way, here’s the 5-mile radius map. If you live inside this circle, you are eligible to apply to NCS.

Essay questions?
There is now a separate application for the new high school, which asks the student to respond to two essay questions (short response inside a small space allowed on the application). I’m pretty sure that is not an allowable part of NCS admissions preferences as per its charter. There is a footnote claiming “*Responses are not used as part of the acceptance criteria for the school.” Fine – then take it off the form.

At any rate the essay questions appear to be optional. The instructions say to fill in the grayed-out areas, and the essay areas aren’t grayed out. So it appears to be safe to ignore them. That’s what I would have my kids do if they were applying.

Maybe it’s a preliminary test for conformity?

What’s so hard about producing a clean application?
Why are they so obsessed with putting obstacles in the way of applying BEFORE the lottery? Can’t they verify addresses and solicit essays AFTER the lottery? Come on people, please just make it a straight-up lottery and remove the ugly appearance of discouraging certain applicants.

About those outreach conditions
It seems like only yesterday, but it was really just last April when Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery approved the expansion of Newark Charter School (NCS) to grades 9-12, but with the following conditions:

…the Department approves the application for modification but conditions that approval on: (1) the development, approval and implementation of an outreach plan to significantly increase, consistent with the public school population it serves, the diversity of NCS going forward; and (2) NCS providing a free and reduced lunch program for all grades starting in the fall of 2012.

Secretary Lowery also sharply noted:

I am hopeful these conditions, coupled with NCS’s full and earnest implementation of them, will result in NCS being more accessible to high need students. However, the Department will review this issue carefully when NCS seeks its next charter renewal and will be inclined to impose additional conditions in the absence of significant progress on this issue. [emphasis mine]

NCS has apparently submitted an outreach plan, and I will post it as soon as I get my hands on it. NCS does have an Outreach Committee and an outreach plan which is referenced in its board minutes. And NCS does now offer free and reduced lunches.

I can only hope Secretary Lowery’s statement is fully supported by the current administration. If so, I suggest the Department should take a look at the new admissions forms now, before the next charter renewal.

  1. John Young
    October 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm


    thanks for your research. The NCS acolytes will liekly defend their new stepped up equity process, but this lays that bare.

    The screening has simply shifted and we are left to wonder what we always have: do the kids score high because they are more affluent, or does NCS have more affluence because their kids screen so well?

  2. John Young
    October 26, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

  3. Jodi
    October 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I had to have a utility bill to register my daughter for kindergarten in our feeder school district and at her current charter. This is not unusual at all.

  4. October 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Can you go check your school’s registration policy and get back to us with a link? Your school almost certainly has a long list of ways to verify residence, including but not limited to utility bills. They have developed those inclusive procedures because they take their admissions responsibilities seriously and don’t constantly try to manipulate them.

    Not only that, but your feeder school does not disqualify you if you submit the wrong form of proof the first time like NCS:

    Effective October 10, 2011, applications that do not include a copy of a current utility bill will be deemed incomplete and will not be accepted.

    That is why if you aren’t a model homeowner, you need to walk your applications into the NCS office and get someone to sign off that it is accepted.

    I have no problem with NCS taking any additional information they need from you AFTER you are selected in the lottery. That would remove the ugly appearance of pre-screening.

  5. Greg
    October 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Stop w/the NCS hate… let it go, you lost. Stop fighting against a good program following the rules it makes you look like you hate education. If you don’t like the rules get them changed. Stop fighting against a school that is doing everything right.

  6. October 28, 2012 at 5:41 am

    No, Delaware will only lose if the Department of Education fails to uphold the conditions attached to the approval. The numbers will tell the story in a few years, and then you will have nowhere to hide. Do you think your essay questions and your pre-screening utility bills will help you make your diversity numbers?

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