Bronx Families, School Leaders, and Community Advocates Call on Governor Hochul to Lift the Cap on Charter Schools and Prioritize Funding Equity
“Thousands of families across New York City are counting on Governor Hochul and state legislators to lift the cap and help bring more high-quality schools to our communities.” – James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center
(Albany, NY) – Today, hundreds of Bronx families, school leaders, and community advocates rallied at the New York State Capitol to call on Governor Hochul and state lawmakers to lift the charter school cap and prioritize funding equity for charter schools. The rally comes as Governor Hochul finalizes her budget proposal to the legislature, and following months of advocacy from New York City families. A livestream of the event can be viewed on the New York City Charter School Center’s Facebook page HERE.
Lifting the Charter School Cap
The charter school cap is the statutory limit on the number of charter schools that can open in New York State, which currently stands at 460 with a smaller sub-cap for New York City. Under the current cap, the state’s two existing authorizers, the New York State Board of Regents and the SUNY Board of Trustees, may issue charters so long as the total number does not exceed the sub-cap established for New York City or the statewide cap. Currently, there are no more charters available to be issued in New York City.
There are numerous innovative community leaders and educators who have been on hold to open new community-based charter schools in New York City. These schools conducted extensive community outreach to determine interest and need – families are waiting for these schools to open. A poll from Morning Consult released just days ago revealed that the overwhelming majority of NYC parents support lifting the charter cap.
Funding Equity for Charter Schools
All charter schools in New York City are funded at a lower level than their district counterparts. The most recent Independent Budget Office of New York City analysis found that NYC charter schools were underfunded between more than a $1,000 to up to almost $5,000. Additionally, in New York City, district schools and nearly half of charter schools are co-located in New York City DOE-owned buildings. Under the Facilities Access Law passed in 2014, many New York City charter schools are able to receive rental assistance if they do not receive co-located space. Unfortunately, that law excluded privately located charters that had grown to capacity or established grades prior to the 2014 – 2015 school year – essentially penalizing them for being long-standing members of the communities they serve.
Currently, there are more than 30,000 charter school students in New York City who don’t have access to facilities funding. These students’ per-pupil funding is being diverted from the classroom to pay for the buildings in which they are being educated. Students in these underfunded charter schools receive almost $5,000 less per pupil than district students.
“New York City is in the midst of an educational crisis. The status quo has left so many kids struggling to succeed, and the need for more high-quality public schools is loud and clear,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center. “Thousands of families in the Bronx and across New York City are counting on Governor Hochul and state legislators to lift the cap and help bring more high-quality schools to our communities.”
“Access to quality education is integral to the success of the Bronx and New York City,” said Lisa Sorin, President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “Deep investments in all equitable education strategies from charter schools to trade schools and traditional public education must be a continued priority for our borough and our State. Our children are the future of the Bronx and deserve the best educational opportunities available.”