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 207 schools serving 95,000 students—with nearly 43,000 more on waiting lists.
Out of 207 charter schools operating in 2015-16, 193 (93%) 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 249,700 applications for 22,000 available seats. Discounting for students who apply to more than one school, this represents an estimated 64,600 applicants for 22,000 seats—creating a citywide charter school “waiting list” of an estimated 42,600.
New York has capped the number of charter schools that can open in the state at 460. 302 charters have been issued to date, with 207 of those currently operating in NYC. As per 2015 legislation, only 50 of the remaining charters can be issued in NYC by one of New York’s two authorizers - the State Education Department Board of Regents (Regents) and the SUNY Charter School Institute (SUNY). Our detailed analysis breaks down the charter cap, while our fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about the cap.