The city is a serial offender when it comes to class size. Since 2006, there have been at least five audits and reports showing how the city has misused nearly a billion dollars in state funds meant for be used to hire new teachers to reduce class size. Yet there are now nearly 2,000 fewer classes in grades K-8 and 1600 fewer classroom teachers. Meanwhile, the number of high paid administrators and out of classroom positions has mushroomed.
Another example: PS 327 in Brooklyn, which was allocated $335,000 and should have added four extra classes to reduce class size, but only added one. Both schools had the classroom space, according to the “Blue Book,” but didn’t follow through. Other schools that had no space to reduce class size were allocated these funds, while schools that had space were not provided with any class size funds.
The administration’s response to their failure to properly monitor the use of these funds? That the program has “ceased to exist.”
However the Early Grade class size reduction budget allocation memo is still listed on the DOE website for FY 2010 as an "externally restricted" program. The full budget memo is here, with specific rules that are supposed to be followed -- rules that according to this audit, were flagrantly violated.
Moreover, the city promised to the state to continue the program, even after it was formally folded into the Contracts for Excellence (C4E). The DOE stated as part of its C4E plan that "the Department continues to be committed to reducing class size in early grades via the Early Grade Class Size Reduction program."
Here’s another, equally creative response to the audit, from Joel Klein, on WNYC radio:
“KLEIN: We've put all the state money, we got lots of state money for that and it's all been put into lower class size. People say, well last year it went up a few tenths of a point or something like that, but last year we had budget cuts.”
What? They have never spent the state funds appropriately and in fact, the city is a serial offender when it comes to class size. See this summary; and these charts, showing the large increases by district throughout the city last year, particularly in grades K-3.
Check out how your district did. Click on the chart below, for visual evidence that there was no relationship between the schools that received C4E funds to reduce class size, and those that actually did.
Yet more broken promises to our children.
Some news articles about the audit are here: Space crunch keeps kids at home, bussed elsewhere, as packed classes begin in city -- Daily News; DOE misspends millions: Class size sky-rockets -- Examiner.com; Thompson says DOE spent class size reduction money elsewhere -- GothamSchools; Comptroller Says DOE Didn't Use All Funds for Smaller Class Sizes --WNYC; Thompson Claims Mayor, DOE Misused Funds -- NY1.