ALBANY, N.Y. (April 24, 2023) — As New York State budget negotiations continue, public education advocacy organization the Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:
“Charter schools are funded by extracting resources from public schools, therefore any expansion of charter schools in the enacted budget — whether the reauthorization of zombie charters, or lifting the regional cap — will negatively impact the overall budget for public schools, in New York City in particular,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education.
“New York City already spends over $3 billion on charter schools. Even without lifting the charter cap or reauthorizing zombie charters, 32 percent of this year’s Foundation Aid increase to New York City will go toward charter schools, which educate just 14 percent of students there. Reauthorizing ‘zombie’ charters alone would add another $58 million annually to the city’s current $3 billion bill for charter schools.”
“New York State’s leaders must reject Governor Hochul’s proposals to expand charter schools in New York City. The State Legislature should stand its ground and keep any expansion of privately run charter schools out of the enacted budget, so that the majority of the Foundation Aid increase goes to the majority of students, as is intended.”
Understanding the current cost of charter schools
With state law as it currently stands — with the regional charter cap in place, and without reauthorization of “zombie” charters that previously failed and closed — charter schools will eat up $183 million of New York City’s $568 million increase in Foundation Aid funding.
|Total Foundation Aid increase — NYC 2023-24||$568 million|
|Total cost of charter tuition payments from NYC public schools (currently)||$3 billion|
|Mandatory increase from NYC DOE to charter schools in NYC in 2023-24||$183 million [32% of Foundation Aid Increase]|
|Potential Additional cost to DOE of 1 new charter school (150 students)||$2.6 million|
|Potential Additional cost to DOE of 22 new schools (150 students)||$58.2 million|
Calculating the cost of Governor Hochul’s proposed “zombie charters”
If the state budget reauthorizes “zombie” charters, it will open the door for an estimated 22 new charter schools to open in New York City, and the disproportionate increase going to charter schools versus public schools there will grow.
Based on an estimate of those 22 new charter schools enrolling 150 students each, the reauthorization of “zombie” charter schools would add another $58 million annually to the Department of Education’s current $3 billion bill for charter school students. That bill only accounts for tuition payments that DOE would be required to make to charter schools, and doesn’t include other substantial costs, including charter school rent, that New York City would be on the hook for.
Impact on Foundation Aid
Charter schools are already receiving a disproportionate share of the Foundation Aid increase. With the state finally poised to fully fund Foundation Aid this year, any expansion of charter schools in the enacted budget — whether the reauthorization of zombie charters, or lifting the regional cap — will reduce the intended impact of the city’s Foundation Aid increase, and siphon resources from public schools that have waited decades for adequate funding.
On the other hand, not expanding charter schools will not impact parent choice or existing charter schools that are currently operating. There are more than enough spots for students in existing charter schools to meet demand.