Governor Kathy Hochul recently released NYC budget contained a proposal that could have major effects on the often-contentious issue of charter school caps and funding in NYC.
The city currently has 275 charter schools, the maximum number allowed under the current cap. In October, Governor Hochul surprised many by saying in the gubernatorial debate against her Republican opponent Lee Zeldin that she supported lifting the local cap on charter schools.
Although the boost in charters is not supported by the United Federation of Teachers union, Hochul’s executive budget proposal, released Feb. 1 could allow about 85 new charter schools to open in NYC even as the statewide cap would not be raised beyond its current level of 460. The budget proposal comes at a moment of particular tension regarding charter schools. Schools Chancellor David Banks announced last week that the city was nixing proposals for three new Success Academy charter schools which were to have opened in Queens and the Bronx. The NYC chapter of the United Federation of Teachers opposed the Success Academy’s attempt at expansion, describing the DOE’s decision to withdraw Success Academy’s proposal as a “momentous victory.”
The New York State Teachers’ Union also opposes lifting the cap on the number of charter schools allowed to open in the city, citing concerns that the expansion could hinder the educational progress of students in existing public schools. They tweeted of Feb. 2: “To be clear: NYSTU has always stood against the expansion of charter schools and the degradation of public education. We will fight ardently against the expansion of charter schools proposed in the 2024 Executive Budget.” As reported by the New York Post, however, over 60% of NYC parents say they support New York State increasing the cap.
James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, released a statement in response to Hochul’s budget proposal: “A budget is a reflection of priorities–and with this budget proposal, Governor Hochul has proven that she prioritizes the voices and needs of students and families first,” said Merriman. “We applaud the governor for fighting to make it possible for more great schools to open in New York City and look forward to working with her and members of the legislature to see this proposal through. This momentum is only possible thanks to the thousands of parents across the City who have stood up and made their voices heard.”
Emily A. Kim, founder an CEO of Zeta Charter Schools, also expressed her approval in response to the budget proposal. “Tens of thousands of families are stuck every year on charter waitlists across NYC, and are in great need of high-quality educational options for their children,” said Kim in a statement. “Zeta and many other public charter schools have the capacity and ability to meet this demand by opening additional schools in the least-resourced areas of the city.”
Governor Hochul surprised some observers with a budget proposal that could allow for up to 85 additional charters schools in NYC. But it faces an uncertain fate in the Democratic-controlled legislature.