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State Budget Gives Charter Schools More Protections and Power

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Mayor Bill de Blasio says that he remains in control of city schools, but with the new state budget, one of his many powers over the school system is disappearing. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Public charter schools are mostly independent from the city Department of Education, but the mayor has always had one significant power: the ability to decide whether charters get free space in city school buildings. Now, Albany has decided to take that away.

It's a part of the budget deal that the mayor would rather not focus on. In fact, on Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to claim that nothing is going to change.

"The decisions about the space will be made by the Department of Education about our own buildings. That's the bottom line," he said.

In reality, Albany has given charter schools more protections and power and left the mayor with a little less control over the school system.

Here's what will change:

- The mayor will not be able to charge charter schools rent, as de Blasio had planned to do.

- New or expanding charter schools that want space in city school buildings get it.

- If no public space is available, the city can either pay rent for private space or boost charter schools' per pupil funding by 20 percent.

- If the city wants to make any changes to space given to a charter under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the school has to approve it.

State lawmakers, including the governor, who have aligned themselves with the charter school advocates said that the changes protect students.

"I think we were able to solve the co-location problem and ensure that kids in charter schools have their place in the public education system that they deserve," said state Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he was not in favor of all the new restrictions and requirements placed on the city.

"The charter school material is a little onerous on the city of New York, unprecedented compared to any other part," Silver said.

The 75 city charters already established in private facilities won't be entitled to free space or funding for those students. Several of those schools had aligned themselves with the mayor in recent weeks, meeting with him in City Hall and publicly criticizing the charters that traveled to Albany to make their case. So with this budget, not every charter school came out a winner.

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