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For co-located charters and districts, matching repairs begin

A Bronx middle school is about to get new window shades, thanks to a rule that forces the city to match costly repairs in charter schools with ones in neighboring district schools.

Albany legislators voted in the new measure last May as part of the law that more than doubled the state’s cap on charter schools. For years, critics of the way the city co-locates charter and district schools have complained that while charters have start-up funds to beautify classrooms and repair their facilities, district schools often can’t afford the same fixes. The new rule, which is now being put into practice, was one of several changes to co-location procedure meant to mollify these critics.

Now, if the charter school spends over $5,000 on building improvements, the city has to spend the same amount on repairs for the district school in the same building. At a meeting of the citywide school board last week, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said that city has already approved 29 such quid-pro-quo arrangements.

In one case, M.S. 302 in the Bronx chose to get new window shades, which will cost the Department of Education about $6,000, according to a DOE spokesman. This is the same amount the city spent on repairs to three classrooms and several closet doors for Girls Prep Charter School. The two schools share a building in the South Bronx.

The law does not work both ways: if the city spends over $5,000 repairing a district school’s facilities, it does not have to do the same for the charter school in the same building.

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