When Emily Caton decided she wanted to send her daughter to a charter school, she navigated to the New York City Charter Center website, typed in her Brownsville zip code, and watched a stream of nearby schools flood her screen.
Soon, her daughter had offers to attend six different charter schools, all in her area of Brooklyn.
Just a few years ago, Caton's screen would have shown far fewer local charter school options. But today, after charter schools have flooded the area, neighborhoods in eastern parts of Brooklyn has more school seats and applicants than neighborhoods where charter schools flocked early on, like Harlem and the South Bronx.
This year, Caton is one of 18,000 unique applicants to charter school lotteries in East New York and Brownsville. And the neighborhoods together have more than twice as many charter school seats as Harlem and the South Bronx, according to data provided by the New York City Charter Center.
The growth of charter school options comes even as district school attendance in the neighborhoods has fallen over the past decade — and in recent years, has driven that drop.
There are nearly 3,000 fewer elementary school seats in District 19, which includes most of East New York, than there were in 2003-2004, a 20 percent decrease. Middle school enrollment is down 25 percent over the same period. In the smaller District 23, which includes Brownsville, Ocean Hill, and part of East New York, the district has actually added about 800 middle school seats since 2003, a 30 percent hike, but elementary school enrollment has fallen by 30 percent.