Two Newark Charter Schools Make History Through Merger

Peggy McGlone | The Star-Ledger

Two independent charter schools in Newark joined forces this week, creating a “crayon to college” experience and making history as the first charter school merger in New Jersey.

The Marion P. Thomas Charter School and Visions Academy Charter High School officially merged July 1 after getting approval from the state Department of Education earlier this year. 

The merger creates a 1,300-student school on four campuses and reaching from pre-K to grade 12. Visions Academy will become the Marion P. Thomas Charter High School. 
The new entity will be one of the largest independent charter schools in the state.

Marion P. Thomas CEO Karen Thomas said the merger was a response to parent demand for a high school. Students were leaving after the fifth grade to attend schools that continued through grade 12, she said, and that was having a negative impact on the school.

Joining with Visions, which opened four years ago, made sense, she said.

“They are community based, our missions are very similar,” Thomas said, adding that many graduates of Marion P. Thomas had enrolled in Visions.

“Making it a seamless transition to high school was the number one goal,” she said. “Building capacity for sustainability in the future, it is a huge move for both our schools.”

In September, the newly configured school will open in four locations. The elementary school and middle schools each have their own sites, while the high school will be in two locations until 2015, when a new building on Sussex Avenue will open.

“Since its founding, Visions Academy has shared Marion P. Thomas Charter School’s commitment to rigorous academic preparation and community engagement,” said Reverend Ronald Slaughter, the former President of the Visions Academy Board of Trustees. “We are proud to unite as one Marion P. Thomas Charter School and look forward to our future together as one village serving the best interests of our students.” 

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