A side deal between Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and the State Senate’s Republican leadership will permit a boost in the number of charter schools in New York City, according to an agreement announced Thursday.
The deal resolves a sticking point that jeopardized mayoral control of the municipal public schools.
It wasn’t in last week’s legislation extending de Blasio’s mayoral control of schools. Mayoral control was on the verge of lapsing when the legislature returned to Albany for an “extraordinary” extra session to settle a dispute left unresolved when its regular term ended in June.
De Blasio and the Senate GOP leaders’ deal affirmed the ability of charter schools to recycle certificates for so-called “zombie” charter schools that are no longer open but still count against a state-set cap on the number of such campuses allowed to be operate.
There are 22 “zombie” schools, according to Scott Reif, spokesman for State Senate leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).
According to de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein, the deal provides MetroCards for charter students whose classes begin before busing starts for the year, cuts red tape for facility rentals and expedites requests for certain building upgrades.
“The charter sector is an important partner in our mission to deliver an excellent education to every child in New York City. Through the debate over mayoral control, we identified a few common-sense areas where we could better work together to ensure all 1.1 million school children have a chance to succeed,” Goldstein said in a written statement.
De Blasio is a charter foe who favors traditional district schools. Charter schools are public, but operate without some of the restrictions covering traditional city-run schools.
In a statement, Flanagan called the announcement “an important step forward for charter school students and for their families, as well as for the 50,000 children now on waiting lists for a seat inside a charter school.”
De Blasio was circumspect when asked last week whether there were any side deals, not in the school-control legislation, that smoothed the path to the renewal of mayoral control.
“There were a lot of conversations about a set of issues related to charters that we believe could be handled administratively,” he said.