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NY Post
New York Post
9 Sep 2023

NextImg:Pols seek to study subsidizing private school tuition — to keep families from fleeing NYC

It’s pay — to stay.

Two City Council members are pushing new legislation to weigh the possibility of subsidizing parents who send their kids to private school — a bid to keep public education-wary families from fleeing the Big Apple.

The bill by Councilmen Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) and Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn) would require the city to study the feasibility of setting up a “school choice” program where families who send kids to Catholic, parochial, private schools and yeshivas are reimbursed up to $10,000 annually for tuition payments.

“We have seen parents flee the school [public] system and seek alternatives that they might not be able to afford,” said Borelli.

The Department of Finance and Department of Education would jointly conduct the study and help determine how best to administer such a program if it’s warranted, according to a draft of the legislation reviewed by The Post. The proposed local law is set to be introduced at the Council’s Sept. 14 meeting.

The cost of such an initiative would likely run more than $2 billion since there were 221,000 students enrolled in private schools last year, according to data provided by the nonprofit Empire Center for Public Policy.

Councilman Joe Borelli, a Staten Island Republican, is sponsoring legislation that would require the city to study the feasibility of setting up a “school choice” program.
Paul Martinka

The bill embraces the growing “school choice” movement where public education funds are earmarked to private schools selected by families.

Such tax-credit scholarship initiatives and similar programs currently exist in Iowa, Illinois, Florida and South Dakota.

New York offers limited school-choice options through its publicly funded — but privately operated — charter schools. Despite a rising demand for more, the city is capped at having only 275 charter schools, which drives many parents to fork over big money for private schools — or leave the city altogether to seek better public schools.

“Building a thriving ‘school choice’ network would bring great benefits for students,” Borrelli said.

Yeger said he believe “parents need more options.”

Councilman Kalman Yeger
Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn) said believe parents “need more options” and that it makes no sense for the city to not at least study whether implementing a “school choice” program is best for New Yorkers.
Erik Thomas/NY Post

“What we’ve seen in the last few years is an abandonment of the city’s school system by parents and children,” the moderate Dem said.

Over the past decade, the city’s public school enrollment has plummeted more than 20% — from 1.1 million students to roughly 860,000. A staggering 17% fewer kindergarten students citywide enrolled last academic year than in 2016-17, The Post reported in August. 

Both Yeger and Borelli said they blame much of the public school mass exodus on lefty policies limiting education options instituted under former Mayor Bill de Blasio and ex-Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza. Both, however, praised DOE Chancellor David Banks, who took over the school system in 2022.

“This chancellor is working very hard to repair a mess that was left on his lap,” Yeger said.

Messages left with the DOE and Mayor Eric Adams’ office were not returned.