The 2014-15 budget, which is due by midnight Monday, is expected to provide Mayor Bill de Blasio an important victory and a setback. He will get about $300 million for prekindergarten in New York City this year, allowing him to fulfill his major campaign promise to provide early learning programs for all children in the city.However, the budget agreement announced Saturday also threatens to chip away at the mayor’s ability to control city schools. Having the mayor fully in charge of public education in the city has mostly worked over the last dozen years. This is no time to start diluting that authority and responsibility over the largest system in the country.Yet, after Mayor de Blasio recently scaled back plans by three charter schools to use public school space, state lawmakers and Mr. Cuomo — supported by charter school advocates — fought back. They have responded with plans to “protect charter schools,” as the governor’s news release put it, though Mr. de Blasio has already said that these independently run, publicly financed schools have a place in the city’s education system.This budget would phase in more state money per student for charter schools, bringing them into line with the level of support received by traditional public schools. The package also bars the city from charging charter schools rent for the use of public school buildings, a suggestion that Mr. de Blasio floated during his campaign. If the city does not want to use public school space for a charter school, the legislation requires the city to find appropriate space elsewhere, or, in some cases, pay the rent for private facilities.This, of course, must not be interpreted as a guarantee that new or expanded charter schools can automatically commandeer limited public school space, especially if those charter schools have not proved to be successful in educating students. The new provision should give the mayor and state officials leeway to weed out expansions by mediocre and poorly performing charter schools.
More constructively, the proposed state law would make it clear that the city comptroller can audit charter schools in the city while the state comptroller is authorized to audit charters in the rest of the state.
Of course these new provisions will be interpreted as any charter can expand as much as it wants and commandeer whatever space it wants in a particular district.
Who will stop Eva Moskowitz from saying at the end of the year that she wants to expand six of her elementary schools and have the city pick up the tab for the spaces?
There's nothing in the budget bill to counter whatever the charter operators want.
Yes, there is a yearly audit that will be conducted by the city comptroller, but that's not a counter to the expansion powers.
The Times seems most concerned with expansion of charters that are "mediocre and poorly performing," but the reality is, any uncountered expansion by any charter school becomes a problem with space at such a premium.
I think it was Diane Ravitch who dubbed this a "land grab" the other day - and that's exactly what it is.
And there is no counter in the budget bill to how much land they want to grab.
Cuomo gave the keys of the city's school system to the charter operators to do with it as they will.