Report Details Disparities in NYC Charter School Funding


According to a new report, New York City charter schools are receiving less funding than their traditional public school counterparts. In the past five years, charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently operated, have fallen behind in per-student funding.

James Merriman, Chief Executive Officer of the New York City School Center, a nonprofit group that aids charter schools, said:

It’s profoundly disappointing that even after a study that showed that charters on average received less six years ago, the gap has grown even greater. It’s really time to fix this once and for all.

According to Lisa L. Colangelo of the NY Daily News, public schools received an average of $17,928 in funding per student, charter schools located in public space received $17,899, and charter schools in private spaces received $15,014. This is a difference of almost $3,000, but still an increase of $1,334 since 2010.

The comparisons didn’t include sources of funding that depend on “the make-up of the student body,” and other categories like special education.

One of the reasons for this disparity in funding is a 2014 contract with the United Federation of Teachers that raised salaries in public schools. Next year the difference may decrease, as some charter schools will be eligible for an additional $2,775 per student for rent.

The report was released by the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) and compared data from the 2014-2015 school year with information from five years previous, writes Sophia Hollander of the Wall Street Journal. The IBO has released similar reports twice before, with the most recent being five years ago.

The United Federation of Teachers, and the authors of the report, note that these results may be misleading because they don’t account for private donations that bolster some charter schools. A representative said:

The IBO report explicitly acknowledges that its analysis ignores the elephant in the room– the tens of millions of dollars in politically motivated private contributions that many charters rake in…

In New York City, 83,000 of the system’s 1 million students attend charter schools.

Devora Kaye, a spokesperson from the Department of Education, said:

We are encouraged that over the last two years we have increased funding for all our schools, while almost eliminating the disparities between them. Our goal is to invest in all public schools, both district and charter, to ensure every student has the resources they need to thrive. We continue to review the IBO report and are committed to providing all our schools with the funding they deserve.

The full report can be read on the IBO website.