New York City

Councilmember Levin demands moratorium on charter schools

Spending ‘out of control’

June 5, 2013 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Charter school spending is “out of control” Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, Boerum Hill) said on Wednesday as he called for a moratorium on the opening of all charter schools in New York City.

The announcement follows the release of the city’s executive budget, which includes a $210 million — or 25 percent — increase in funding for charter schools.

In the city’s preliminary budget, charter schools were proposed to grow by $70.9 million for Fiscal Year 2014, to a total of $899.3 million. The Mayor’s executive budget, however, increases funding for charter schools by a whopping $210 million – an increase of 200 percent from the preliminary budget. Spending on charter schools in the city will top $1 billion.

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 “The executive budget released yesterday is further proof that charter spending is out of control,” Councilmember Levin said in a statement. “An increase of 200 percent from the preliminary to executive budget shows that the cost to taxpayers in order to finance charter schools is only going to continue to increase.

“To increase funding for charter schools by 25 percent in a single year, at a time when the executive budget calls for the decimation of programs that New York City children, families, and seniors depend on, is outrageous. Given these astonishing numbers, I am calling for a moratorium on the opening of all charter schools in New York City.”

While the city said their initial calculations were off because they didn’t “know the full extent of how the charters are phasing in,” the Independent Budget Office had previously accurately projected the increase in spending and noted the Mayor’s “low-ball estimate,” according to the website

Success Academy spokesperson Jenny Sedlis told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday, “The reason the city is spending more on charter schools is that more children are attending them, plain and simple. Charters have not gotten a funding increase in years.  In Brooklyn alone, there are more than 15,000 students on charter school waitlists. So by calling for a moratorium on charter schools, Councilman Levin would deny thousands of his own tax-paying constituents the opportunity to choose where their children attend school.”

At a budget hearing with the City Council on Tuesday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott refused to speak under oath. Several council members accused him of lying about another school matter, the city’s plans to bid out new busing contracts, according to Capital New York.

Updated at 2:45 p.m. to include quote from Success Academy Charter School spokesperson.

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