During his campaign, Bill de Blasio, now NYC’s newest mayor, said that charter schools with more money should be required to pay rent, one part of his plan to restructure school systems locally. Now putting his ideas into action, many of the city’s charter schools are anxiously awaiting the outcome of federal education budget cuts and redistribution, and fear the implications of having to pay rental fees. Reports The Wall Street Journal, “The question over how rent could offset state aid is one of the thorny issues the de Blasio administration will have to face as it works to fulfill a campaign pledge to charge rent to charter schools.
Formerly, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, charter schools had rent-free access to unused space is district-school buildings, a policy that, according to the New York Daily News, “made New York’s charter sector not only one of the largest in the nation, but one of the highest-performing.” Mayor de Blasio, on the other hand, believes that schools that can afford to pay rent should simply be paying it. Because many charter schools, which are essentially independently run public schools, are funded in part by private donations, de Blasio’s imposition of rental fees will require many of these institutions to modify their monetary structures.
For example, according to The Wall Street Journal, Mayor de Blasio is targeting charter schools that have more money, arguing that they should be responsible for paying rent. “He singled out one of the city’s largest charter-school organizations, Success Academy Charter Schools, and its chief executive officer, Eva Moskowitz. She makes nearly $500,000 a year to run 22 schools […] [P]rivate philanthropy pays for half of Ms. Moskowitz’s salary, school officials said,” WSJ reports. Institutions such as the Success Academy are only able to provide competitive salaries to their educators and administrators with help from local donors such as Daniel Loeb, so forcing them to pay additional fees may lead to pay cuts, or even layoffs.
The future of charter schools in NYC is uncertain at best. Charter school boards, teachers, and families fear that the impending changes will result in budget cuts, which could mean fewer resources for the students. Learn more about what de Blasio’s plans could mean for New York charter schools here.