Wealthy with federal government cash and previous tax hikes on the wealthy, Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed to increase funding for charter schools in the Big Apple by 4.7% and expand authority of Mayor Eric Adams to control New York’s public education system for the duration of his first term.
The boost will increase charter school aid to $17,633 per student, up from $16,844, according to the NYC Charter School Center. Two years ago, aid to charter schools was frozen.
The increase, however, is lower than the overall increase of 7.1% for all K-12 schools.
“This will allow charter schools to continue to innovate, recruit high-quality teachers and staff, and provide strong educational options for New York families and students,” Hochul said in the briefing book describing his gigantic budget of 216 billion dollars.
Hochul’s recommended four-year extension for the mayor’s control of schools is a gift for Adams. The law giving him such control is due to expire in June.
During former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first term as mayor, he only received a one- or two-year extension from Albany to oversee the city’s school system, when antagonist Andrew Cuomo was governor and Republicans controlled one chamber of the legislature – the state Senate.
It wasn’t until 2019, when friendlier Democrats ruled the Senate, that lawmakers granted him a three-year extension of control of the school for the remainder of his second term.
Charter school advocates welcomed the increase in education aid, but said there was another pressing issue the governor and legislature had not addressed — approval of a legislation to lift the cap that has blocked the expansion of charter schools in the city.
“We are pleased to see that Governor Hochul’s proposed budget recognizes the need to increase funding for K-12 education even as we continue to fight for truly equitable public funding for public charter schools in New York. New York parents who choose charter schools deserve nothing less,” said James Merriman, CEO of New York City Charter School Center.
“At the same time, we will continue our fight to lift the cap on charter schools, so that parents have the options they want. This is especially true as more and more parents continue to seek schools at charter even as overall public school enrollment has declined. It really is long past time to lift the cap. We look forward to working with our partners in Albany and New York to achieve this.”
Approximately 180,000 students attend 331 charter schools in New York State. The overwhelming majority of students – 145,000 – attend 272 charter schools serving New York City.
Charter schools receive tuition funded by the state and local school districts, based on the district’s average spending growth over previous years combined.
“So as district school spending increases, charter school spending also increases, per student,” Mujica said.
But he admitted there’s a ‘lag’ in charter school funding because it’s based on an average over at least three previous years – a criticism charter school advocates say limit increases compared to traditional public schools.
“So there was a lag compared to last year’s spending. We have seen the shift. We’re going to hear that,” he said, referring to criticism from charter school advocates.
Mujica said there was no change in the charter school cap for New York, but added,
“We are in discussion on this subject, with the mayor.”
In total, Hochul’s executive spending provides $31.3 billion in state aid for fiscal year 2023, a year-over-year increase of $2.1 billion or 7.1% , compared to the current budget, which expires on March 31.