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De Blasio: State’s charter-school cap good ‘the way it is’

One day after Republicans won a majority of seats in the New York State Senate, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s in no rush to see them increase the number of charter schools allowed to open in New York City.

“I think we have a good dynamic right now with the cap the way it is,” de Blasio said at a press conference.

De Blasio was getting ahead of an issue likely to come up when next year’s legislative session begins in January. Charter school advocates are clamoring for lawmakers to raise or eliminate the state’s cap on charter schools, which leaves room for as many as 25 more charters to be issued for schools in New York City. They will have plenty of support in Albany following the re-election of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and success of Senate Republicans, who support charter schools.

In 2010, the cap was lifted to permit 260 charter schools to open statewide, 114 of those in New York City. Of those, 87 city charters have been issued. (One charter remained under the pre-2010 cap.)

The mayor, who has long expressed a mix of ambivalence and hostility to charter schools, said Wednesday that there was “a lot more work to do within the cap we have,” noting that many of the already-approved charter schools aren’t yet open. There are currently 197 charter schools open in the city and another 31 have been approved to open in the coming years, according to the New York City Charter School Center.

Advocates believe that the cap means New York state will have to stop approving charter schools at some point next year.

“Eliminating the arbitrary cap on charters makes it easier for the mayor to accomplish the goal he outlined this week of having a high quality school for every child to attend,” Charter School Center CEO James Merriman said. “Frankly, I’m surprised he’s not out there advocating for it.”

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