Friday, June 23, 2006

Last-ditch Effort Set to Lift Cap on Schools

This article lays out the last-minute horse trading that's going on. Joel Klein said it perfectly last week: "It's beyond comprehension to me that the charter cap wouldn't get lifted. The test scores are good, the parents want it, Mayor Bloomberg and I want it..."

Last-ditch Effort Set to Lift Cap on Schools

BY JACOB GERSHMAN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
June 22, 2006

ALBANY - With time running out before the end of session, an effort to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state has been resuscitated during negotiations between legislative leaders and Governor Pataki, sources said.

The emergence of charter schools as a dark horse in the flurry of last-minute bargaining here has come as a surprise to supporters of the schools, who had written off a victory this session and assumed the Legislature would take it up next year.

While those familiar with negotiations say the Democrat-controlled Assembly has not softened its opposition to an expansion of the schools, sources say charter schools could play a key role in a complicated end-of-session compromise made up of many parts and involving billions of dollars.

"It's being discussed as part of the negotiations, and the ball is in the air," a legislative source said.

Breathing life into the schools is Mr. Pataki, who is said to be hungry for a triumph on school choice, an issue that could be an important plank in his policy platform should he mount a campaign for president.

Mr. Pataki is focusing budget talks on charter schools, having secured a deal from lawmakers to expand the state's criminal DNA databank, an issue he had been pressing hard in recent days...

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