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Charter schools celebrating possible reversal of budget cut

Charter school supporters say they are on the brink of a victory in their battle to restore about $1,000 per student in funds that lawmakers tugged out of next year’s state budget. They expect that Malcolm Smith, the State Senate majority leader, will restore the funds to charter schools through a last-minute appropriation of Senate funds.

“We’re hoping that Senator Smith will be able to, through his good offices, get our funding restored,” said James Merriman, the executive director of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence.

The message comes after charter schools spent the last two days badgering Smith, whom they had counted as a strong ally. One Queens school that says it is slated to face a $600,000 cut held a rally, while others sent in form letters to Smith declaring, “We thought you were a supporter of charter schools. This budget betrays that support.” Charter lobbyists also rushed out e-mails urging “parents, trustees, and supporters” to call Governor Paterson and Smith asking for help.

But the charter lobbyists reversed their position on Tuesday afternoon, sending out an e-mail declaring that the efforts had paid off. The full text of their letter is below the jump.

A spokeswoman for Smith did not return a phone call immediately today.

Merriman said he can’t 100 percent guarantee that Smith will fill the funding gaps. “He hasn’t told me, but we’re certainly hoping that he will do everything he can,” he said.

RE: State Budget Update: Your Message is Being Heard!

To Charter Schools:

We are pleased to report that your overwhelming response to our call-to-action is bearing fruit, at least with the state Senate. Thank you for all of your efforts!

Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has committed to restore charter funding budget gap that will result from the current budget agreement. We are working with his staff to provide necessary data about charter enrollment for 2009-10. The discussions are underway and we are hopeful, but there are no guarantees at this time.

As we work with the Senate Majority Leader’s office, we ask that schools take a pause in any new advocacy efforts with the Senate Leadership. We will keep you posted and alert you immediately if further action is necessary.

Your efforts in the last 24-48 hours have struck a nerve and opened the door to restoring these lost charter funds.

Thank you again for this fabulous response, as we know your time is valuable. We certainly do not want to discourage any contact with your individual legislators in the Senate and Assembly in the days and weeks ahead, but at this moment we have been able to begin a process with the Senate Majority Leader to restore charter funding.

New York Charter Schools Association New York City Charter School Center

120 Broadway, Albany, NY 12204 111 Broadway, Suite 604, New York, NY 10006

(518) 694-3110 (212) 437-8300

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