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Friday, June 27, 2014

Comment on the Blue Book changes

The just announced change to the "Blue Book",  the annual school capacity and utilization report, to attribute the enrollment in trailers or TCUs to the main building is a good one – and was recommended in our report, Space Crunch.  

But we still need to know how many students are sitting in trailers – which DOE fails to report for thousands of high school students, and an unknown number of elementary, middle and District 75 students as well – especially if they plan to replace those seats.

Other reforms that will be necessary in order to achieve a more accurate picture of school overcrowding include:

·         Lowering the target class sizes in grades 4-12, which are far higher than they should be at 28-30, and even higher than current average class sizes in these grades, and thus would tend to push class sizes even larger than they are now;
·         Providing a more reasonable number of cluster and specialty rooms for each school, in order to provide a well-rounded education;
·         Ensuring that all students needing intervention or special education services can receive them in dedicated, appropriate spaces rather than in hallways or closets;
·         Improving the formula so that when a school is forced to convert a library, science room, cafeteria, or auditorium to a classroom because of overcrowding, this does not increase the school’s listed capacity and register it as less overcrowded than before;
·         Adjusting the formula so that a building with many co-located schools is allotted  more room, in order to adjust to the difficulty of scheduling different classes and organizations in the shared spaces.

Only through implementing these reforms can we begin to have a more accurate picture of school utilization and assess how overcrowded our schools have truly become.

-- Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters 

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