Silver: Charters would get ‘just money’ in state budget

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ALBANY—State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday any help for charter schools in the state budget “would be just money.”

Silver seems to be rejecting the State Senate's proposal to strip New York City mayors of some control over charters. The Senate included in its one-house budget resolution earlier this month several provisions that would go beyond “just money” in helping charter schools grow, including a moratorium on charging rent for space and a change in state law that would allow charters to offer pre-kindergarten.

“We're talking about providing some type of money,” Silver said Tuesday after meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate leaders. “It would be just money.”

“It all comes to the issue of tuition,” Silver added, referring to the leaders' negotiations.

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Per-pupil funding for charter-school students is routed through traditional public schools, and the Senate has proposed increasing the amount of so-called tuition charter schools would get. The state spends far less on charter schools than traditional public schools, but charters are often subsidized by private donations and don't use unionized teachers.

Assembly Democrats have accused Cuomo and the Senate of targeting Mayor Bill de Blasio specifically with the charter proposals, which undermine his ability to make decisions about schools. De Blasio has proven to be less supportive of charters than his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who won lawmakers' votes to institute mayoral control of schools.

Cuomo has recently launched an aggressive campaign in favor of charters, making a rare appearance at a Capitol rally earlier this month.

Charters have also asked for access to facilities funding. It's unclear whether that falls under Silver's definition of "just money."