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Cuomo promises to fund charter schools days after de Blasio move

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo promised to fully fund charter schools and help them thrive just days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cut some resources to those schools in the city.

"I am committed to ensuring charter schools have the financial capacity, the physical space and the government support to thrive and to grow," Cuomo said Tuesday.

Cuomo's unexpected comments came days after de Blasio reversed decisions by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to allow three charter schools to operate in district school buildings.

It was de Blasio's first move to fulfill a pledge to curb the growth of the alternative publicly funded schools run by private companies. The three targeted facilities are part of the Success Academy Charter Schools system, founded by former City Council member Eva Moskowitz, whom de Blasio criticized during his campaign.

"There is nothing more important for our children than their education, and that's why we will not compromise," Cuomo said.

In further interplay Tuesday between the state's top two Democratic executives, legislators allied with de Blasio appeared to be open to Cuomo's plan to fund a statewide expansion of pre-kindergarten with state funds. De Blasio has said he wants to pay for a city expansion with an income tax increase on the wealthy, which is opposed by Cuomo.

Cuomo made his charter school comments in a rare appearance at a rally. The outdoor rally at the Capitol by charter school students, parents, teachers and advocates was held at the same time de Blasio held one in a former state armory a few blocks away to bolster support for his pre-kindergarten plan.

Afterward, de Blasio met with Cuomo for nearly two hours behind closed doors at the Capitol. De Blasio wouldn't reveal details of the talk and Cuomo wouldn't meet with reporters. De Blasio downplayed Cuomo's promise to charter schools

"I only saw only a few lines," de Blasio said of the speech, which was widely distributed by Cuomo's office by video and transcript.

"The bottom line is what we have said about charter schools that we are ready to work with charter schools," de Blasio said after meeting with Cuomo.

Charter schools "are public schools, so I find it hard to believe they would have to pay rent," said Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). "They have proven success."

Skelos said de Blasio "is moving in the wrong direction."

At his pre-kindergarten rally, de Blasio and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver appeared to open the door to considering Cuomo's insistence that state funding, rather than raising a city tax, be used to pay for expansion of pre-kindergarten.

"I'm open to significant, recurring, sustainable funding, however you do it," Silver (D-Manhattan) said in an interview after the rally. Silver said he would have details in his state budget proposal next week.

De Blasio spent much of his speech rallying support for city pre-kindergarten, but a top aide said the mayor is open to considering a sustainable plan for city and statewide pre-kindergarten.

After meeting with Cuomo, de Blasio didn't directly answer a reporter who asked if the mayor's tax plan was dead. "I continue to say it's the best option," de Blasio said.

"But the bottom line is when you know you have some common goals -- and we clearly have common goals here, and we clearly communicating . . . that's a good thing, that's a healthy thing, and obviously we've been able to work together on a number of other fronts," de Blasio said.

Tags: charter schools , pre-kindergarten

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