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New York City charter school rent costs to jump 63 percent this year

The city’s tab for charter-school rent is continuing to rise, education department officials said Friday.

The city expects to spend $44 million this fiscal year for 63 charter schools’ space, according to projections sent to the City Council Friday — a jump from $27 million it paid to charters last year.  

Those payments, meant to cover the cost of charters operating in private space, are a result of a state law passed in 2014. The city says costs are increasing because rents have risen and that many eligible charter schools are continuing to expand to serve higher grades.

Another reason costs have increased: This year, the state upped the amount of funding the city is required to spend on charter space. Schools can now receive up to 30 percent of their total per-student funding to help with rent, up from 20 percent.

The space costs are expected to keep increasing as more schools open. But the city is also about to receive more help: Under state law, costs above $40 million are split with the state.

In New York City, many charter schools operate inside of public school buildings free of charge, a policy started under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and credited for the charter sector’s rapid growth. The 2014 law was widely interpreted as rebuke of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had said he would begin charging rent to charter schools at the beginning of his term.

“We will continue to work closely and collaboratively with our partners in the charter sector to provide space in DOE buildings when feasible, or lease assistance to rent private space,” said Melissa Harris, who helps run the city education department’s office of charter partnerships.