Charter School Advocates and Parents Demand Action From Mayor de Blasio

After City Misses September 1 Deadline to Identify Space for Public Charter Schools, More Than 100 Parents and Charter Leaders Rally at City Hall, Demand Action from Mayor de Blasio.

After City Misses September 1 Deadline to Identify Space for Public Charter Schools, More Than 100 Parents and Charter Leaders Rally at City Hall, Demand Action from Mayor de Blasio.

Data Shows City Has Sufficient Space to Fulfill All Open Space Requests from Charter Schools

New York, NY – On Wednesday morning, public charter school leaders and more than 100 public charter school parents took to the steps of City Hall and demanded Mayor de Blasio immediately resolve their schools’ outstanding requests for public space. Although data has shown ample space for the City to fulfill all of these requests, the de Blasio administration failed to identify viable public spaces for these requests by September 1st, a deadline critical to ensuring space proposals can be finalized and approved in time for families to enroll their children.

Given the lengthy timeline for co-locations to be identified, proposed, and voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy, parents and school leaders need the City to immediately identify specific buildings for co-location. Continued delays will inflict chaos and uncertainty on charter school families. 842 rising middle school students from the school communities gathered at City Hall face educational homelessness next year unless public space is provided by the City, with thousands more impacted in the school years to come.

A recent analysis found 112 chronically underutilized public school buildings in New York City, each of which has had more than 300 empty classroom seats (thus meeting the DOE’s minimum threshold for co-location) every year since 2012. Of these 112 buildings, 68 are located in districts where charter schools are currently seeking access to space.

“Mayor de Blasio needs to act now to show he will support the children that want to attend our schools,” said Ian Rowe, CEO of Public Prep.

“Mayor de Blasio needs to act now to show he will support the children that want to attend our schools,” said Ian Rowe, CEO of Public Prep.

In July, Mayor de Blasio pledged to work collaboratively with New York’s public charter schools. In the weeks since, public charter leaders have asked the Mayor and the Department of Education to uphold this pledge by providing their schools with the public space they need. Missing the September 1st deadline flies in the face of this commitment to collaboration.

“108 of my students could lose their school if the Mayor does not act urgently,” said Miriam Raccah, Executive Director of Bronx Charter School for the Arts. “There are 112 chronically underutilized buildings that we could be using, but instead the Mayor is leaving our families in the cold.”

“If Mayor de Blasio truly cared about kids like mine, he would stop denying my daughter the chance to stay in a school where she feels protected and loved,” said Michelle Ortiz, a public charter school parent from the Bronx. “Mayor de Blasio, please, give my daughter the space our school needs so she can get the education she deserves.”

“The charter sector stands ready to work with Mayor de Blasio, but we cannot simply wait and wait while hundreds of children face educational homelessness,” said Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools. “If these requests aren’t addressed immediately, he will have turned his back on thousands of children seeking a high-quality education.”

Forcing public charter schools to pay for private space is prohibitively expensive, and stifles the growth of many of the city’s highest-performing schools. Legally required rental assistance from the City covers just $2 million per year for a school of 450 students, which fails to cover even the costs of leasing space for most charter schools. The cost of renovating a single building — creating classrooms, installing stairs, bathrooms, cafeteria, and gym — can cost $25 million to $35 million and are not funded by the City.

“Mayor de Blasio needs to act now to show he will support the children that want to attend our schools,” said Ian Rowe, CEO of Public Prep.” Instead of stifling the growth of charters by forcing them into private space, Mayor de Blasio should support the best schools in the city for high-need students.”

New York City’s public charter schools currently educate more than 100,000 city students per year, and are looking to expand into more underserved neighborhoods. As recent New York State test scores demonstrate, children who attend city charter schools receive a high quality public education and are more proficient in math and reading than their district school peers.

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