Flanagan pledges support for charter schools

Gazette file photo


Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was among several state lawmakers who made an appearance at the annual Charter School Advocacy Day in support of increasing state funding for the charter school system.

Hundreds of students, parents and charter school advocates rallied in the state Convention Center to hear guest speakers and watch student performances before meetings with their own legislators.

“Parents all over the state have spoken loud and clear; they want more options to find a great public school that meets their child’s needs,” Flanagan said. “The Senate embraces policies that ensure that quality charter schools are one of those options.”

In addition to more funding, proponents of the charter school system are calling for the elimination of the cap on the number of charters. According to the New York City Charter School Center, there are currently 216 charter schools in New York City, with only 30 remaining under the current cap. Governor Andrew Cuomo recommends lifting the geographic restrictions that currently limit the number of new charters in New York City. The increase would not affect the total number of charters in the state.

According to the New York State Education Department, there are 335 approved charter schools in the state as of 2016. Charter schools are privately run but publicly funded. “Charter schools are public schools,” Flanagan reminded the crowd.

In 1998, the New York Charter Schools Act authorized a system of charter schools to “provide opportunities for teachers, parents, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently of existing schools and school districts”

Gov. Cuomo has proposed an increase in the maximum amount that eligible charter schools may receive in rental assistance, from 20 percent of district per-pupil funding to 30 percent. According to New York’s Independent Budget Office, the proposed change would amount to less than $2,000 per student per year in New York City, where the annual public school per-pupil spending is currently $17,900.

Flanagan spoke in support of the governor’s charter budget priorities. “There are good things in the governor’s proposal, but we’re going to do more,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, D-Bronx, also spoke at the event, which was sponsored by The New York City Charter School Center and the Northeast Charter Schools Network.

After the morning program, parents made their case for more funding and a higher cap during nearly 90 meetings with state lawmakers.