Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NYC "Millions" for Charter Buildings? Actually, it's Charters Paying "Millions"

Charter schools do not get facilities aid - a common complaint made on The Chalkboard and everywhere else.

Several other states have provided support to charter schools for facilities, including formula-based funding. New York State has done nothing like that; instead it's given minimal competitive grants to some charter schools.

Yesterday's Daily News article (here) by reporter Rachel Monahan discussed three "politically connected" charter schools expected to receive "millions in city money for new buildings" from the New York City capital plan.

How about that?! Those three public schools will now get the "millions" that a thousand other district schools in the city already receive!

Like, some proper perspective is in order.

Charters Paying Millions for City-owned Space
This article is loaded with terminology about being politically-connected and playing favorites. Not hardly. Rather, as the article also mentions, all charters can access capital plan funding -- as long as the school can come up with one-third of the cost by itself. That is something no district school is required to do. That means a lot of fundraising and squirreling away money in the absence of facilities funding. Only a few charter schools have the means to do so, including schools like PAVE Charter School and Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy. They should be praised, rather than thrown cheap-shots by critics.

The charter schools that can come up with one-third of the cost of the of a new building can access capital plan funds to build a city-owned building. Sounds like a bargain for the school district, which only spends two-thirds of the cost of a facility, while the charter school pays the remainder for something it doesn't own.

Until the state decides to provide funding justice for charter school students, arguments back-and-forth about charter facilities will continue to polarize in many New York City communities - even against those schools that are paying millions for one-third the cost of a city-owned building.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard
(see me Twitter @ PeterMurphy26)

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