Classroom Without Walls Held Outside to Dramatize 49,000 Charter Students Denied Facilities Funding by the State

Posted by on 11 / 18 / 2014 0 Reactions

Classroom Without Walls, held inside a tent at Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan, represented the 127 charter schools statewide that are forced to divert $118 million out of the classroom to pay rent and facilities costs.
Media Contacts:
NYC Charter School Center: Jon Reinish, 202-999-0461,, Petra Tuomi, 551-358-7672,
Northeast Charter Schools Network: Jessica Mokhiber, 518-573-0516,
NYC Coalition of Community Charter Schools: Arthur Samuels, MESA Charter High School, 917-257-6876,
$118 million must go to rent instead of teachers, technology, and more
No other public school children are denied facilities funding
(NEW YORK, NY, November 18, 2014) – A civics class was held outside today to dramatize the challenges of the more than 49,000 children whose charter schools receive no public funding for their facilities and instead must divert classroom funds to pay rent.
Classroom Without Walls, held inside a tent at Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan, represented the 127 charter schools statewide that are forced to divert $118 million out of the classroom to pay rent and facilities costs.
While the 2014 state budget agreement ensured there would be adequate facilities for new or growing charters in New York City, it did not address the ongoing costs of charters already paying rent in private space. Forty percent (40%) of charters in New York City and all of the charters outside New York City pay rent in private space.
That means students in one half of all charter schools in the state are denied facilities funding simply because they’re educated in a charter school. In the 2013-14 school year, that number was 49,145 students.
What makes matters even more startling is the fact that charter school students in private space are the only public school children in the state whose schools are denied public funds for facilities. Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature could resolve this glaring inequity.
Today’s Classroom Without Walls was facilitated by the New York City Charter School Center and Northeast Charter Schools Network, in conjunction with the NYC Coalition of Community Charter Schools. Students came from one charter school from each of the five boroughs (list below) and were taught by Michele Ciechalski, a teacher at Lavelle Preparatory Charter School in Staten Island.
Classroom Without Walls demonstrated in stark terms what it means to try and educate children without access to facilities funding that every other public school receives. While Albany made encouraging strides towards funding fairness, the conversation cannot be over until all public schools receive equal facility funding.
“Each year charter public schools are forced to divert about $118 million in operating funds to pay rent – leaving over 49,000 mostly low-income students in the lurch,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center.  “Students in district schools don’t face that problem, nor should they.  It’s time to level the playing field for all public school students once and for all, and that’s why funding equity is one of the charter sector’s top priorities. It’s time that funding for facilities is something that every public charter school gets.” 
Northeast Charter Schools Network CEO Kyle Rosenkrans said: “More than 49,000 school children, overwhelmingly poor and of color, across New York State are affected by this inequality every day.  These children are denied funding simply because their families have exercised their right to choose to attend a charter school. We are calling on state leaders for a solution to this serious problem in next year’s budget.” 
Barbara McKeon, Head of School at Broome Street Academy Charter School and a founding member of the NYC Coalition of Community Charter Schools said: “Many of my students are homeless, in foster care, or facing other challenges.  They deserve every academic and social support we can provide.  The rent that I have to pay makes it harder to give these inspiring kids the chance at a better life.  We are asking for equity and fairness for our students.”
To highlight these facts and bring to life the stark choices these schools are forced to make, the New York City Charter School Center and the Northeast Charter Schools Network today released “Still Building Inequality,” a new research paper analyzing data and highlighting trends statewide. The report can be found here.
Highlights from “Still Building Inequality” include:
  • New York State charter schools in private facilities spent an estimated $118 million on rent and other facility costs during the 2013-14 school year—money that should have been available for teachers, guidance counselors, technology and other learning tools..
  • This cost was approximately $2,250 per student statewide, on average, with an average of $2,500 per student in NYC and $1,700 per student in other areas of the state.
  • In school year 2013-14 alone, New York State invested $1.26 billion in school facilities aid to school districts where charter schools operate without public facility funding.
  • In the same year, local school districts paid local contributions of roughly $1 billion in addition to state investments.
The five public charter schools participating in Classroom Without Walls include:
  • Broome Street Academy Charter School (Manhattan)
  • Ascend Learning (Brooklyn)
  • Bronx Charter School for Excellence (The Bronx)
  • Growing Up Green Charter School (Queens)
  • Lavelle Preparatory Charter School (Staten Island)
About the New York City Charter School Center
The New York City Charter School Center is an independent non-profit committed to fostering an environment in which public charters can open and flourish, and, through their innovative approaches, provide models for improving all public schools. The Charter Center helps new charter schools get started, supports existing schools, and engages the charter school community around key issues.  Learn more about the New York City Charter School Center at
About the Northeast Charter Schools Network
The Northeast Charter Schools Network is the statewide membership and advocacy association for charter schools in New York and Connecticut. Its mission is to support and expand high quality charter schools in the region. Learn more at
About the NYC Coalition of Community Charter Schools
The NYC Coalition of Community Charter Schools includes more than 50 New York City public charter schools in all five boroughs educating more than 15,000 students.  The Coalition provides a voice for the many community charter public schools in New York City.  It endeavors to grow and sustain a vibrant, collaborative, and high-quality charter school sector that meets the diverse educational needs of all students, particularly those who have traditionally been underserved.
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