The State of Charter Schools in New York

The State of Charter Schools in New York

Charter schools are an alternative to public schools. They are paid for with taxpayer dollars, but are privately run and not subject to the rules of the local school district. Advocates assert these schools fill gaps and provide opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable, especially for our most disadvantaged populations. Critics maintain they take money away from public school students’ education and benefit from it.

There are over 350 charter schools operating in New York State alone, with greater freedom to tailor learning to better meet the needs of their students. A closer look shows they also promote diversity, inclusion, and equity in education. Take New York City as an example. The NYS Department of Education reported that for the 2020-2021 school year, 50% of students in the charter school system identified as Black; 40% identified as Latinx; 79% were economically challenged; 9.3% lived in temporary housing; and 8% were multilingual. (Beer, Song. New York City charter schools continue to emerge as an inclusive new opportunity.

Still, differing opinions about charter schools are reflected in a number of conflicting actions being taken at local, state, and federal levels.

In New York City, advocates are rallying to have charters reissued for schools previously closed and to make charter school seats available to more children. Thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies, charter schools could apply for a portion of the $50 million in grants made available for elementary school children to attend school this summer and make-up for educational gaps created during COVID. What’s more, the 2023 state budget increases per-pupil funding at New York City charter schools by 4.7% to promote innovation, the recruitment of high quality teachers, and give families and students options.

At the federal level, there are new rules governing the Charter Program, including decreased funding and more transparency requirements to obtain grants (Strauss, Valerie. What the Biden Administration’s new rules for charter schools say. In addition, as reported by EducationWeek, “Incoming charter schools will have to gather community input and prove they aren’t managed by a for-profit company to receive federal funding under the Biden administration’s finalized Charter School Program rules.”

No doubt, there is more to come. Regardless of which side you stand on the charter school debate, we want you to know RBT CPAs is here to help all schools – public, private, and charter – uphold their financial disclosure requirements, as well as accounting, tax, and audit accountabilities. Find out what we can do for your school or school district – give us a call today.