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NEW YORK: State legislature to fund charter schools, pre-kindergarten

charter-school-fundingALBANY — Charter schools have a guaranteed home in New York City thanks to the state’s new $138 billion budget deal.

The spending plan says the city must provide rent-free space for charters in public schools, or give them rent subsidies in exchange — a provision that could cost the city up to $40 million.

The plan is a rebuke to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who criticized co-locations as “not democratic” and once vowed the city would force charters in public spaces to pay the city rent.

On Saturday, he offered muted praise at the end of a press conference on Sandy relief.

“Clearly, I said we want to work with every kind of school,” de Blasio said. “I’m waiting for more details, but my strong understanding is the way we are approaching things is that this is a different co-location process that is fair to all the schools.”

Other charter opponents were more vocal.

“It’s outrageous! It still gives more power to Eva Moskowitz than it does to the mayor of the city of New York,” said Noah Gotbaum of Community Education Council 3. “It eviscerates any type of local control.”

Charter advocates — including Moskowitz, who saw three of her Success Academy charters kicked out of public school co-locations by de Blasio — rejoiced.

“This is a historic moment in public education,” she said. “Coupled with universal pre-K, this legislation will provide unparalleled education options to New York’s families.”

The budget deal reached late Friday by Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders will also provide $340 million in state money for pre-kindergarten classes for each of the next two years, with $300 million of that going to city schools.

De Blasio lauded that piece of the budget, describing it as an “extraordinary and historic step forward,” even though it pre-empts his plan to bankroll the program by taxing the city’s top earners.

“We have rewritten the rules for pre-K in New York,” Cuomo told reporters Saturday.

The biggest budget surprise was the inclusion of ethics reform, just days after Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough’s office was raided by the feds looking into his taxpayer-funded per-diem charges.

The “public trust” provision, if passed, would toughen penalties against corrupt politicians. An elected official convicted of taking a bribe — the felony threshold would be lowered to a $5,000 payoff — could face a lifetime ban from public office.

The budget would also implement public campaign financing on a trial basis during this year’s state comptroller’s race.

The Legislature is expected to pass the budget Monday, making it the fourth consecutive on-time state spending plan.

Source: New York Post – by Pat Bailey and Aaron Short

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This entry was posted on March 31, 2014 by in Charter Schools, New York, States.

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