New Data from DOE Reveals District School Buildings Have Space for Nearly 100 Public Charter Schools Across 10 City School Districts

New Data from DOE Reveals District School Buildings Have Space for Nearly 100 Public Charter Schools Across 10 City School Districts

Official “Blue Book” Contradicts de Blasio Administration’s Claims of Overcrowding in Districts Where Charter Schools Seek Co-Location

New York, NY – Contrary to the Department of Education’s claims, new data published by the Department of Education itself in the 2015-2016 Blue Book shows that available space for public charter schools in district buildings has increased over the last year. The Blue Book–which serves as the city’s official record of space utilization in local district schools–shows that in the ten school districts where charter schools have applied for space, there are now 94 district school buildings with enough space to site a charter school.

In an analysis released Monday (below and attached), Families for Excellent Schools notes that the data directly undermines the de Blasio administration’s claims that it cannot approve charter networks’ co-location applications because the districts where charters seek space are overcrowded.

“The new Blue Book data tells us once and for all that everywhere there is demand for public charter schools, there is more than enough empty space to co-locate them,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools. “As the city’s high-performing charter sector seeks to add 50 new schools over the next two years, the Department of Education must start following the law and act immediately to co-locate these schools.”

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NYC PUBLIC SCHOOL UTILIZATION: 2015-16 BLUE BOOK ANALYSIS

With over two dozen charter schools lining up to share space in public buildings, NYC’s DOE recently released 2015-16 citywide utilization data for its public schools and confirmed what experts – including the non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission – have repeatedly pointed out: the under-performing districts where charters have requested co-locations have room for nearly one hundred charters and are becoming more under-utilized year after year.

This data runs contrary to the claims made by Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose on behalf of DOE. In a July, 2016 letter to charter school operators, Deputy Chancellor Rose wrote that “[the 2014-2015} Blue Book does not accurately reflect the space for new and/or expanded co-locations…for example, the 2014-2015 Blue Book shows approximately 50,000 excess seats where schools still phasing in during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years…”

But to date, DOE’s own data shows that the amount of available space has increased, not decreased, over the past year.

Overall, utilization of NYC’s public schools fell from 96.4 percent to 95.7 percent last year, and more seats became available in 22 out of the city’s 32 public school districts. Nine out of ten districts where charters have requested co-locations saw an increase in available space as students continued to flee chronically low-achieving schools for opportunities that put them on the path to possible.

This data raises real questions about the veracity of DOE’s claims that space is unavailable to the city’s high-performing charter schools. To put kids first, DOE must work with charters and do what’s right for hundreds of kids who don’t know where their school will be next year. With the release of 2016 data, the public knows that more space is available than ever before, and keeping these schools empty will only hurt the communities they serve.

  • More seats became available in 22 of NYC’s 32 districts

  • Nine of ten districts where charters are seeking public space saw a decrease in utilization

  • Utilization in districts where charters are seeking public space fell from 79.0 percent to 78.0 percent

  • More buildings in districts where charters are seeking public space became capable of accommodating a new charter school, rising from 93 to 94

  • In districts where charters are seeking co-locations, buildings with enough space for charters (300 seats) grew even emptier – their empty seats increased from 47,051 to 49,049

  • Citywide, there were 182 buildings with at least 300 open seats, combining for 94,119 open seats in total

  • Citywide, there were 67 buildings with at least 500 open seats, combining for 49,917 open seats in total

  • Overall utilization fell from 96.4 percent to 95.7 percent