the Charter School Movement
Fulfill Its Promise
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI
October, I was very proud to announce that New York City was taking
the lead in encouraging the growth of charter schools by instituting
the first and most generous local charter school grant fund in
the nation. New York’s Charter School Improvement Fund enables
newly-approved charter schools to apply for funding of up to $250,000
each to help finance their equipment and facility-related needs.
In April, the City awarded grants totaling $3.42 million to 14
schools that applied to the Fund’s first round of grant applications.
The funding will help the schools meet a variety of needs that
range from getting valuable assistance in purchasing or leasing
school buildings to upgrading their facilities—including libraries,
science labs and computer rooms—or purchasing much-needed equipment.
Now, the City is taking another step forward by offering a second
round of awards to help charter public schools compete with district-run
public schools on a level playing field.
Why did we create this fund? For all of its many strengths, the
New York State Charter Law does not provide funding for building
maintenance and equipment. And the per-student operating funds
that charter schools receive are much less than what district-run
schools receive. New York City’s public schools currently have
access to a record $12 billion in annual operating funds, which
translates to $9,820 per pupil. But students in charter schools
only receive two-thirds that amount—$6,630 per pupil on average.
That’s not right. Charter schools shouldn’t be given particular
privileges, but neither should they be specifically disadvantaged.
We ought to be going out of our way to see that those who are
granted charters have every opportunity to succeed. And that’s
what we’re doing.
Alternatives to the local district-run public schools should not
be open only to the sons and daughters of the wealthy. Equality
of educational opportunity is a right, and that is what these
charter schools are providing. I am proud to be lending the City’s
support to their effort.
The schools will receive an additional 10 percent of the grant
total if they meet the performance goals they have agreed upon
in conjunction with the Fund. And if they fail to meet these standards,
they will be docked the equivalent of 10 percent of their award.
In other words, there is accountability built into this process
and incentives for success.
Since the January 19 application deadline for the first round
of funding, six new city charter schools have been authorized
by the State Board of Regents, bringing the total number of city
charter schools operating and approved to 22.
All newly created charter schools or public school conversions
that receive their official State approval by the expected grant
award date, in September 2001, are eligible for the newly announced
round of funding, provided they had not applied for the Fund’s
first round of awards.
Charter schools with specific capital needs may apply for a grant
by submitting a plan detailing how the school intends to utilize
the funding. Grant award decisions are based on a school’s demonstrated
need, and on the quality of its proposal. Grant proposals are
due by August 31, 2001.
These grants will help ensure that students in New York City charter
schools are not denied access to the same facilities and equipment
available to students in public schools, and will thereby help
the charter school movement fulfill its promise.
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