A floor amendment offered by Senator George Borrello to lift the charter cap that currently limits the number of charters granted to operate such schools in New York City was regrettably rejected by the New York State Senate last week.

But lifting the cap is not the only way to give more parents seeking charter seats a chance to secure them. There’s an easier first step.

Under existing law, the Board of Regents won’t authorize additional charter schools to operate in Gotham, despite soaring demand, as evidenced by a waiting list of roughly 50,000 mostly low-income, minority children.

But some of the charters that have been issued under the statutory cap are no longer being used. About 20 of them belong to schools no longer operating. These charters should be re-issued. If they were, about 10,000 kids could move from waiting lists to the school of their choice, assuming the new schools resemble in size the city’s existing ones, whose average enrollment is 515 students.

What’s more, a legislative fix is straightforward, as we’ve modeled here.

The charter cap has become a contentious issue in Albany but ensuring that charters issued under the statutory cap are put to good use should be uncontroversial. It would show the Legislature wants laws it adopts to be faithfully executed according to their original intent.

About the Author

Peter Warren

Peter Warren is the Director of Research at the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Read more by Peter Warren

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