Public charter schools would not exist, let alone grow and thrive, without demand from families seeking high-quality public school choices. Since New York City’s first charter school opened in 1999, this educational option has grown to encompass 197 schools serving 83,200 students—with an estimated 50,000 more on waiting lists.
Out of 197 charter schools operating in 2014-15, 179 (90%) responded to the NYC Charter School Center’s survey about their lottery application rates. Based on survey data, the Charter Center estimates that New York City charter schools received a total of 212,500 applications for 21,000 available seats. Discounting for students who apply to more than one school, this represents an estimated 70,700 applicants for 21,000 seats—creating a citywide charter school “waiting list” of an estimated 49,700.
New York State has two charter authorizers - the State Education Department Board of Regents (Regents) and the SUNY Charter School Institute (SUNY). Each authorizer has a set number of charters to give to teams who want to open new charter schools in New York overall and New York City, specifically. In 2015, under the cap, the Regents have 24 charters available to issue, and SUNY has only one left. Our detailed analysis breaks down the charter cap by authorizer, while our fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about the cap.