NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Charter school supporters are celebrating a tentative deal in Albany that gives students unprecedented protection as state leaders hope to resolve final budget issues on Friday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders had hoped to print legislation on Friday, clearing the way for Monday voting since bills typically must sit on lawmakers’ desks for three days. The budget is due before Tuesday.
Sources tell CBS 2 that part of the budget includes a tentative deal over charter schools in New York City.
The charter school reform package would increase funding per student, to $1,100 over three years and, for the first time, give governmental funding to cover rent or building costs.
“We’re very, very close to an agreement on everything,” state Senate co-leader Jeff Klein said Thursday. “It’s really everything, the property tax, renter relief, universal pre-K; it’s charter school issues.”
For charter schools seeking space, the city would have five months to find a suitable location or pay for a new, private one. The agreement also calls for the mayor to find room for three Success Academy charter schools in Harlem.
Many charter school parents and students were happy to hear about the potential deal.
“We will continue to show you this was worth the fight. Thank you!” Harlem Success Academy parent Allison Reed said
“That makes me so happy because I don’t want all those charter schools to close,” second grader Shon Bowens told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang on Friday.
“I’m just glad we won,” another parent said.
Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to reverse a decision not to allow the schools to use space in public school buildings even though it was promised to them by former mayor Michael Bloomberg.
De Blasio has defended the move, even though it resulted in protests and several active lawsuits.
“Of the 45 co-locations carried over from the Bloomberg administration, we agreed to 36,” the mayor said earlier this month. “We disagreed with nine and I think any judge that looks at that is going to see that we’re balanced and objective.”
Some traditional public school parents said charter school students already have many advantages and they don’t need even more.
“My son is in public school and they closed down a lot of public schools recently and I don’t think it’s fair at all,” P.S. 145 parent Shanice Carrion told Jiang.
Another blow to de Blasio would be shutting down his request to raise taxes on the city’s wealthiest to pay for universal per-kindergarten.
Cuomo has been vocal about it in the past, saying there is enough money in the state budget.
Legislative negotiators had been looking at $300 million to fund universal pre-k with an additional pool of money for upstate districts.
Advocates said the tentative budget language that would offer the pre-k aid as a reimbursement to cash-strapped districts would hobble its expansion, though Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Friday he had no issue with reimbursements.
The governor, Assembly and Senate have all proposed increasing state aid for public education above the current $21 billion level and funding pre-K.
Silver said a tax credit to help private and public schools advocated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan probably won’t be included in the budget.
There has been no comment yet from de Blasio’s office about the possible charter school deal.
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