Education Department Diverts $210 Million Away From Charter Schools

By Colby Hamilton on January 31, 2014 5:59pm 

 Mayor Bill de Blasio will shift funding priorities away from charter schools and towards universal pre-k construction, the Department of Education announced Friday, January 31.
Mayor Bill de Blasio will shift funding priorities away from charter schools and towards universal pre-k construction, the Department of Education announced Friday, January 31.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CIVIC CENTER — In a move that hit at the core of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's schools legacy, the city’s Department of Education announced Friday evening that it was slashing $210 million away from city charter schools and redistributing it to programs including creating new pre-K seats.

The move, which sent shock waves through the charter school community, gutted the entirety of the devoted capital funds designated by the Bloomberg administration to help charter school and their partners in the private sector construct new charter facilities, according to the previous version of the department’s capital plan, released in November of last year.

De Blasio, who rose to frontrunner in large part with his vow to cut back on the growing power of charter schools, has been openly critical of the role that charter schools play in the education system.

De Blasio has vowed to institute a moratorium on new charters in the city, while reviewing the previous administration’s stance on existing charter colocations in public schools. Some charters would be forced to pay rent going forward, de Blasio has promised.

"It is insult to injury to give them free rent," de Blasio said last summer as he campaigned for mayor.

According to officials with the Department of Education, the funding doesn’t affect any existing charter-based projects, only those projects that had relied on the funding for fiscal year 2015.

The new funding priorities are part of de Blasio’s plan to create 73,000 seats for full-day universal pre-kindergarten, Education Department officials said.

“These revisions will help us create high-quality, full-day pre-Kindergarten seats citywide that will deliver strong instruction,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement. “These are important steps that will dramatically improve educational outcomes for our students.”

Advocates of charters schools denounced the funding plan.

"Tonight, the Chancellor cut funding for thousands of students who attend excellent public charter schools," Jeremiah Kittredge, executive director of Families for Excellent Schools, said. "Once again, thousands of minority and low income students and families have their educational future unfairly put in jeopardy."

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