State Legislature Votes to Double State Charter School Cap

By DNAinfo Staff on May 28, 2010 12:23pm  | Updated on May 28, 2010 7:15pm

Students at Harlem Success Academy, a charter school in Harlem.
Students at Harlem Success Academy, a charter school in Harlem.
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Chris Hondros/Getty

By Della Hasselle and Olivia Scheck

DNAinfo Reporter Producer

MANHATTAN — The New York State Legislature passed a bill Friday morning to raise the cap on charter schools within the state, a step officials hope will increase chances of receiving hundred of millions in federal funding.

The bill will more than double the number of charter schools – schools that receive government funding but are run by independent operators – allowed in New York, from 200 to 460.  

The vote came after days of negotiations as officials struggled to make the June 1st deadline for applications to the Race to the Top federal grant program, which rewards charter-friendly states.

"This bill will allow New York State to submit a competitive application for federal Race to the Top funding and increase our chances at receiving up to $700 million for our schools," said Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan, according to a statement from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office.

Silver added, "These sweeping reforms will help put an end to divisive fighting over school space and give a meaningful voice in the process to traditional public school parents."

In addition to raising the charter school cap, the bill would add a provision prohibiting for-profit organizations from operating any newly-created schools and require matching improvements to the buildings of traditional public schools when they are connected to charters, according to the statement.

The bill would also consolidate the control over charter school development in the hands of the New York State Board of Regents, who currently share that role with the State University of New York.

"I am extremely pleased that an agreement has been reached to lift the cap on charter schools, and am confident that this legislation will greatly increase our competitiveness in the second round of Race to the Top," Gov. David Paterson said in a statement.