Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg And Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein Announce Plans To Create 50 New Charter Schools Throughout All Five Boroughs

October 30, 2003

The Department of Education to Establish New York City Center for Charter Excellence and to Implement Precedent-Setting Practices to Support Charter Schools

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced plans to create 50 new charter schools in New York City over the next five years and to establish the non-profit New York Center for Charter Excellence in partnership with the private sector and not-for-profit community. The Mayor and Chancellor also announced that the City would implement new internal policies - some of the most supportive in the nation - to help charter schools flourish. The initiative represents the first time the resources of a major school district and philanthropic community will be marshaled to support charter schools. The announcement was made at a press conference at the Renaissance Charter School in Queens.

"The creation of academically rigorous charter schools is an integral part of our overall effort to support excellence in our classrooms," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Charter schools foster innovation and attract vital new resources to our school system. The entrepreneurial and competitive nature of these schools inspires and stimulates positive change throughout our entire school system."

Today's announcement is part of the Mayor's and Chancellor's overall vision of creating 200 new small schools citywide over the next three to five years. Chancellor Klein will support the creation of the 50 high-quality charter schools, which will span grades K-12, with many focusing on K-8.

"Today's announcement is a testament to our belief that there is more than one way to deliver high quality public education," Chancellor Klein said. "Charter schools represent a tremendous opportunity to attract new resources to our public schools and to spur system-wide change. Charter schools also reflect the vision underlying the Children First reforms´┐Ż that strong leadership, autonomy at the school level, and accountability for performance are key to giving our children the quality education they need and deserve."

Private donations of $40 million have already been committed to the New York City Center for Charter Excellence and the Department's charter school initiatives by the Robertson Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation and Joe and Carol Reich. This support is more than half of the total funds needed for the initiative over the next five years.

The New York City Center for Charter Excellence will be established by theDepartment of Education in partnership with members of the private and not-for-profit communities. The mission of the Center, a not-for-profit organization governed by an independent board of trustees, will be to stimulate the supply of high quality charter schools and support their ongoing operations. It will work in close collaboration with the Department of Education to attract new charter school founders and quality school applications, while providing ongoing support to operating charters. The Center will also act as a charter school network facilitator and coordinate closely with DOE to promote institutional solutions and inform policy.

"My wife Josie and I love New York and think it is essential that our city's children have every educational opportunity" said Julian Robertson, Founder of the Robertson and Tiger Foundations. "We count ourselves fortunate to have a Mayor and a Chancellor with the vision to believe that charter schools, working together with public schools, can make New York a model for public education in America. We are proud to join with Robin Hood and Joe and Carol Reich in support of this important initiative."

"Robin Hood has always believed education is critical in the fight against poverty," said Marie-Josee Kravis, Robin Hood Board Chair. "We fund public, private, charter and parochial schools and have spearheaded a partnership with the Department of Education to create libraries in public elementary schools in poor neighborhoods throughout the city. We are excited about continuing our partnership with the Mayor, the Chancellor, the Reichs, and the Robertsons, to provide thousands of children with high quality education."

"Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein are solidly supporting increased educational opportunities for our city's children," said Joe and Carol Reich. "The children are the future, and we are grateful to be able to assist in this innovative initiative to expand the charter school movement."

Taken together, the Center for Charter Excellence, the new internal DOE policies, and the creation of 50 additional charter schools over the next five years demonstrate an unprecedented commitment by the Mayor and Chancellor to the development of charter schools in New York City. The Department will bring charters closer to financial parity with other public schools by providing funds for school start-up, information technology, and special education as well as the use of public facilities.

With today's announcement, the City will also embark on a new advocacy effort for changes in state law that will enable the charter initiative to reach its full potential. The City will push for the elimination of the statewide cap on new charter schools, the streamlining of charter school oversight, the release of state categorical funds, and an expansion of the chancellor's authority to approve and grant provisional charters.

The Center anticipates partnering with local organizations that support charter schools and looks forward to strategic support from national organizations such as the NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy fund that supports public education. NewSchools Venture Fund hopes to contribute several million dollars to charter school efforts in New York City over the next few years.

Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson

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