NEW YORK—The city’s schools chancellor has announced changes to the Department of Education’s capital program that divert the entire budget of the charter school construction program toward the creation of additional prekindergarten seats.
Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced changes in the department’s capital plan for years 2015 to 2019, in a media release on Jan. 31.
The new plan increased the budget from $12 billion to $12.8 billion, by accounting the $800 million from Governor Cuomo’s proposed Smart Schools Bond Act and redirecting $210 from “charter and partnership programs”.
The charter and partnership programs funds have been used to build 9 school buildings since 2005.
Cuomo’s Smart Schools Bond Act funds will be split with $490 million of the bond money to be used to provide schools with new technology. The rest of the Bond Act funds, including the money for charters, would be used to create 4,900 new seats to reduce class sizes and 2,100 new full-day pre-K seats.
“These are important steps that will dramatically improve educational outcomes for our students,” Fariña stated in the media release.
The charter and partnership programs funded construction of new class space through partnerships between DOE, charter operators, and private developers.
“Mayor has made it a priority of his administration to support facilities for charter schools in New York City,” states the previous capital plan for years 2010 to 2014. That plan was developed during the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a supporter of charter schools.
That policy was expected to change with the new administration, as Mayor Bill de Blasio made it a point in his campaign that he will curb the charter school. expansion. De Blasio also proposed charging profitable charter schools rent for space in public schools.
“In this era of constrained finances, needs must be prioritized to ensure that we are leveraging all possible funding sources,” stated DOE Deputy Chancellor of Operations Kathleen Grimm in the press release.