Some of New York City’s most expensive private schools aroused the ire of their public counterparts after the New York Daily News revealed that they received state funding to pay their teachers. Five of these schools are on the Upper West Side.
Private schools are eligible to be reimbursed for the salaries of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers thanks to a state-run program formed in 2017. “Any private school with educators certified to teach math, science or technology or with a master’s degree in those fields can apply for the subsidy, and money is doled out based on the number of eligible teachers and the salary for comparable positions in nearby public schools.”
The fund’s existence and the exponential yearly increase – $15 million in its second year and $30 million the following year – has come as a relief for many institutions that struggle with consistent enrollment, financial viability, and students attending on scholarship. Religious schools, which make up most of the recipients, were reported to be the ones that struggle the most.
Jim Cultrara, the director for education at the New York State Catholic Conference, told the Daily News that the public funding has allowed parochial establishments to keep their doors open because they can now compete in STEM. “We have had parents not enroll their kids in Catholic schools because we weren’t able to offer rigorous program options including those in the STEM field.”
But not everyone supports public money going to private academies, particularly when the latter are free from any state interference or control in both their governance and admissions processes. Educational institutions with millions of dollars in the bank and tuition rates of more than $50,000 per year drew extra scrutiny.
“For the State of New York to subsidize these private schools charging $50,000 to $60,000 to go to school, I say no to that,” State Sen. Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) told the Daily News. “That money could be used better at schools in our city and state where kids need it the most.”
Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School on West 93rd Street “charges nearly $57,000 a year for tuition, reported more than $40 million in the bank in June 2020, and once counted former President Donald Trump’s son Barron as a student.” It received the second largest reimbursement statewide during the 2018 – 2019 school year. Long Island’s Saint Anthony’s High School, where tuition is roughly $10k, secured the largest reimbursement of $527,775.
Here are the Upper West Side schools and the reimbursements they received in the 2018 – 2019 cycle.
- Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan – $10,533
- Cathedral High School – $45,458
- Abraham Joshua Heschel School – $68,445
- Manhattan Day School – $82,480
- Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School – $333,501
Here are the Upper East Side schools on the list.
$55 million is designated in this year’s budget for this reimbursement program, an increase of over 1,000 percent from the $5 million available in 2017.
The NYS residents who send their children to these schools are taxpayers like everyone else. In fact, they probably pay significantly more taxes than most NY residents given their likely income levels. So they should generously support the local school systems but their schools should receive no benefits?