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In Asbury Park: Charter School OK to Open


coaster-news-200-newBy JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI

A new charter school is set to open in September in Asbury Park but will house all students in one approved location instead of two.

At the Aug. 8 Board of Adjustment meeting the board decided to carry the application for use of The First Baptist Church on Third Avenue until Sept. 12. The applicant is College Achieve Charter School.

This leaves the school with only one facility, at 700 Grand Ave., for the opening of school next month.

According to Director Michael Piscal the number of students beginning school in grades Kindergarten, first, fifth and sixth, is 197.

In year two the school will add two more grades and more students.

Board Attorney Jack Serpico reminded the board that the issue has to be decided within 120 days of the application being filed, which was determined to be Oct. 15.

If it is not decided by then, a request for an extension would have to be filed.

The board discussed use of the site to a packed house but board Chairman Christopher Avallone held strictly to guidelines that public comments could only address the use of the building and not the merits of charter schools.

Attorney Charles Liebling, cross examined Piscal on behalf of his client, Grand Avenue resident, Sharon Krengel about traffic, parking and transportation issues.

The school will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. with after school hours until 6 p.m.

Daytime staff will be leaving after the school day and new staff will arrive for after school activities.

Andrew Karas, attorney for the charter school, said his client has met all parking requirements with spots in the parking lot for 12 faculty and staff members who would work at the school.

Piscal lowered the number of students at the site to 104 from 127 to reduce the number of staff members required to meet the parking requirement.

Karas also said there is on street parking in the school’s neighborhood.

The issue of picking up and dropping off students at the beginning and end of the school day was also discussed extensively.

Piscal said the school is offering free busing to students west of Memorial Drive and will put together a detailed plan regarding transportation before the next meeting.

Piscal has previously operated schools in California and has another in New Jersey that opened last year. He said he has never had a problem with drop off and pick up.

In response to a question from Director of Alphabets Preschool, Esther Piekarski, regarding buses dropping students off at her school, which often stop for 20 minutes at a time, Piscal said, “These are not preschoolers. I’ve never had a problem at my other schools…it’s a rapid process.”

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