Friday, March 3, 2017

Huge problems with School Siting & Planning in NYC-- will they be addressed by the NYC Council Working Group?

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the NYC Council held joint hearings of the Education and Finance Committees on the myriad problems with the city's dysfunctional process of school planning and siting.  Many parents, students and advocates pointed out how the capital plan is underfunded, the enrollment projections inaccurate, school siting too slow -- all resulting in the huge problem of school overcrowding which is getting worse not better -- despite numerous promises and claims of Mayor de Blasio and the DOE to the contrary.  Here is the Committee report.

Below is my testimony, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, E. Harlem parent activist Marie Winfield, Shino Tanikawa, co-chair of the Blue Book Working group and Community Education Council District 2 Vice President, and Naila Rosario, President of CEC 15, and her son Andrew, who is in middle school.  You can see from from their words how the current system is broken.  It  subjects the majority of NYC public school students to substandard conditions and threatens to worsen overcrowding in the years ahead without significant reforms to the process.

For nearly two years, Class Size Matters along with the Public Advocate, many parent leaders and elected officials have advocated for a Commission to deal with these problems.  Instead, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has decided that the City Council will form an internal working group to develop legislative proposals to improve the process before she leaves office in nine months.  Let's hope this working group engages sufficiently with stakeholders, and reaches out to planning experts, community members and parents to help them identify the underlying issues and develop meaningful solutions.

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