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Fight over charter school funding freeze pushed to next year

After repeatedly lobbying the mayor to find more funding for charter schools, charter school leaders believe the battle in Albany is over for this year.

The state’s education spending for next year is still in limbo: Yesterday, Paterson vetoed a budget that included $419 million in education aid, and the legislature may or may not override the veto. But with no players — neither the governor nor the legislature — showing interest in unfreezing charter school funds, advocates are now setting their sights on next year.

“People are already lining up for the 2012 budget,” said James Merriman, head of the city’s Charter School Center.

One last hope for charter school supporters is that Mayor Bloomberg might himself un-do the funding freeze with city funds. Charter school leaders have been petitioning City Hall to fill in the funding freeze using city dollars.

On Friday, the mayor made his first public call for equal per-pupil funding for charter schools in a letter sent to Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson (printed in full below the jump).

But the mayor stopped short of demanding that some of the funds be given to charter schools this year:

It is in keeping with our commitment to fairness and equity that we treat all public schools, charter and non-charter, alike. Given the complexities involved, it would be unreasonable to think that all of the issues involved will be resolved in this session. What is essential is that we move forward with a commitment to end disproportionality.

Charter school advocates said they still trust the mayor’s pledge to assist them in their fight.

“The letter makes clear that the mayor has a commitment to achieving funding parity; he says it very, very clearly,” Merriman said. “And I think the mayor also recognizes that there’s a kind of Albany end-game to approve the cap lift on one hand but not equally fund the schools on the other.”

You can read more about charter school funding here and here.

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