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Funding gap for New York City charter schools widens

Funding gap for New York City charter schools widens

Charters schools housed in private facilities fare worse than those sharing space in city school buildings.

Charter schools in New York City have lost ground over the last five years in their quest for equitable funding, compared with budgets for traditional schools, a report from the city's Independent Budget Office (IBO) says.

The IBO says that charter schools sharing space in school district buildings in 2014-15 received only $29 less per student than traditional public schools, but charter schools housed in private space received considerably less support--$2,914 for each student, or about 16 percent less than traditional public school funding.

The last time the IBO looked at the per-student funding in charter and traditional schools--2009-10--the gap was less for charter schools in private settings: They received $13,653 per student, compared with $16,011 per student in traditional public schools--a difference of $2,358. Charters sharing space in the city's school buildings fared even better in 2009-10--the $16,660 they received per student was $649 more than the funding for students in traditional public schools.

"Whether these differences in support continue in the coming years largely depends upon two factors," the IBO says. "One is whether [state lawmakers in] Albany will continue to set aside the funding allocation formula for charter schools that remains in law,."

The New York state school funding formula calls for increases in charter school funding that are generally proportional to the increases in general funding for district schools. Beginning in 2014, instead of following the formula, the state increased charter school funding by a fixed amount--$250 per student.

"A second factor is the rental assistance provision enacted by the state in 2014 and the availability of space for charter schools within education department buildings," the report says. "Some charter schools will be eligible to receive $2,775 per student next school year to defray the cost of renting private space.

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