Price point

New York City charter school rent costs to jump 63 percent this year

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy

The city’s tab for charter-school rent is continuing to rise, education department officials said Friday.

The city expects to spend $44 million this fiscal year for 63 charter schools’ space, according to projections sent to the City Council Friday — a jump from $27 million it paid to charters last year.  

Those payments, meant to cover the cost of charters operating in private space, are a result of a state law passed in 2014. The city says costs are increasing because rents have risen and that many eligible charter schools are continuing to expand to serve higher grades.

Another reason costs have increased: This year, the state upped the amount of funding the city is required to spend on charter space. Schools can now receive up to 30 percent of their total per-student funding to help with rent, up from 20 percent.

The space costs are expected to keep increasing as more schools open. But the city is also about to receive more help: Under state law, costs above $40 million are split with the state.

In New York City, many charter schools operate inside of public school buildings free of charge, a policy started under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and credited for the charter sector’s rapid growth. The 2014 law was widely interpreted as rebuke of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had said he would begin charging rent to charter schools at the beginning of his term.

“We will continue to work closely and collaboratively with our partners in the charter sector to provide space in DOE buildings when feasible, or lease assistance to rent private space,” said Melissa Harris, who helps run the city education department’s office of charter partnerships.

#GovTest

Where Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker stand on key education issues, from charters to Chicago’s school board

PHOTO: (Rauner) Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images; (Pritzker) Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Our conversations with Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and challenger J.B. Pritzker will be aired on Oct. 3 on WBEZ 91.5 FM.

The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in U.S. history, and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has probably seen or heard one of the barrage of ads for the candidates. There have been puppies, toilets, and plenty of barbs over wealth and taxes — and the back-and-forth has drowned out the discussion over where the candidates stand on education, arguably one of the most crucial policy areas facing the state.

To dig deeper, Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

The interviews will be separate, but will be broadcast back-to-back on WBEZ 91.5 FM on Oct. 3 starting at 8 a.m.  

In advance of the discussion, Chalkbeat and WBEZ asked each candidate for his position on five questions, and we’ve reprinted their answers in their entirety. We’re also soliciting interview suggestions from our readers and listeners. Use this form to submit a question to us, and follow along with the discussion on Oct. 3 using #GovTest.

#GovTest

What would you ask Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker about education?

Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

Use the form below to submit questions for the conversations, which will air back-to-back on Oct. 3 at 8 a.m.