Wednesday, April 09, 2014

State leaders reach deal on charter school reforms

State leaders reach deal on charter school reforms

Thursday, March 27, 2014, 8:08 PM
Gov. Cuomo at a March 4 pro-charter school rally at the state Capitol on March 4. Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos in in the blue blazer in the background.

State leaders reached a tentative deal on a charter school reform package that will increase per pupil spending and provide government-funded rent for the schools for the first time.

Also under the deal, if a new charter approved by the city includes a request for space inside existing city buildings, the city would have five-months to make a "reasonable" co-location offer or pay for private space, the sources said.

The charter can then accept the offer or challenge it before an arbitrator. If the school loses, the charter must pay its own rent or accept the original co-location offer, the sources said.

The charter issue became an unexpected budget battle after Mayor de Blasio stripped $210 million in capital funding from the city's charter schools and rescinded co-location agreements with three charters operated by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz.

Gov. Cuomo and the birpartisan coalition that rules the Senate vowed to protect the publicly-funded, privately run charters in the budget process.

A de Blasio spokesman had no comment on the emerging deal Thursday evening.

Those briefed on the plan say that per pupil funding for the charter schools will jump by $1,100 over three years, including $250 per student in year one, $350 in year 2 and $500 in year 3.

Charter schools in New York City receive nearly 30% less in public funding per pupil than traditional public schools.

The state, not the city, will pick up the additional costs, the sources said.

The city, under the tentative plan, would be on the hook to pay up to $40 million to cover the rents of charter schools located in private buildings. The state and city would share the costs above the $40 million, a source said.

The plan does not make the charters eligible for state building aid to make up for the mayor' scapital funding cut, sources said.

As reported earlier this week by the News, the final budget deal will include $300 million in funding for de Blasio's push to implement universal full-day prekindergarten and additional money for after-school programs.

"The mayor will get what he needs and charter schools will be part of the city and state," said one legislative source.

Cuomo and the legislative leaders had hoped to wrap up the budget talks Thursday, but got bogged down on final details.

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