Christie gives nod to Bergen County Hebrew charter school

Christie gives nod to Bergen County Hebrew charter school

Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday approved 23 new charter schools for the state, including the Shalom Academy for students in Englewood and Teaneck. The school would be New Jersey’s second Hebrew immersion charter school.

The new Hebrew-language charter school is set to provide a Hebrew immersion program for up to 240 students in grades kindergarten to eight. The school, the brainchild of Englewood resident Raphael Bachrach, had been rejected by the state board of education three times in the past.

Bachrach did not immediately return calls for comment.

Local school leaders reportedly opposed the academy, which had been rejected three times by previous administrations, because they say it will drain resources from the public schools.

Before turning to the idea of a charter school, Bachrach had first sought to create a dual-language program in one of Englewood’s public schools, similar to existing programs for Spanish in some New Jersey schools, as an alternative to day school for tuition-burdened families. Difficulties with the Englewood school board eventually led to Bachrach abandoning the proposal for the charter school idea.

The Shalom Academy will be the second Hebrew-immersion charter school in the state, joining the Hatikvah International Academy that opened last year in East Brunswick with 108 students in kindergarten through second grade. Ninety percent of its students come from East Brunswick.

Hebrew charter schools, which offer nonreligious but Hebrew-focused curricula, are being looked at across the country as less expensive alternatives to Jewish day schools. Several of the schools are operating in New York and Florida.

A full report on the school will appear in The Jewish Standard next week.

The Jewish Standard and JTA Wire Service

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