|Mayor promising to fully fund need for seats in next five-year Capital plan|
Contact: Leonie Haimson, 917-435-9329; firstname.lastname@example.org
The letter was signed by Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, newly-elected State Senator Robert Jackson, along with leaders of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, many Presidents of President Councils and Community Education Councils, the Education Council Consortium, and Class Size Matters.
“We know that when our schools are overcrowded, our children are deprived of the attention they deserve,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Supporting our schools and ensuring our children have the resources they need to succeed should always be top priority and that starts with fully funding this capital plan to accommodate the growing number of students in New York City. Every child deserves access to a quality education and we cannot wait to act.”
As Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters explained, “According to the DOE’s data, about 575,000 students are crammed into overcrowded NYC schools. The current capital plan is only about half-funded in terms of new school capacity compared to the need identified by the DOE. Meanwhile, the city’s population is growing fast, there’s a residential building boom in every borough, and thousands more 3K and UPK students are enrolled in our district’s schools. All this is contributing to worsening school overcrowding, especially in elementary schools which average 104% utilization citywide.”
Shino Tanikawa, co-President of the Education Council Consortium, composed of Citywide and Community Education Council members, pointed out, “The ECC unanimously voted to sign on to this letter, because too many kids have lost their art rooms, access to gyms and cafeterias at reasonable times, and are subjected to excessive class sizes. We know that as it is, the DOE’s estimate of need is too low. For one thing, the school utilization formula is not aligned to the smaller classes required for a truly equitable chance to learn, despite the recommendations made by the Blue Book Working Group which I co-chaired. The Mayor should fulfill his promise to fund and build at least the schools that the DOE admits are required.”
The letter also urged the Mayor and the Chancellor to accelerate the process of school siting and construction so that the additional seats are built within five years, rather than trailing years behind enrollment, as occurs now.
Naila Rosario, President of the NYC Kids PAC, explained: “Too often, even those school seats that are funded take twenty years or more to site and build. Meanwhile, class sizes swell out of control, as high rises and new developments sprout up all over the city. Most of the seats funded in the current capital plan won’t be built until 2020 or later, long after the plan is over. We need to accelerate this process of school planning and construction and make it far more efficient.”
Concluded Celia Green, newly-elected President of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council and a parent of special needs students, pointed out, “Students with disabilities have repeatedly been forced into too-small rooms, shunted aside in trailers, and often receive their mandated services in hallways or closets. This is unacceptable, especially in the richest city in the country in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Parents know that their children’s opportunities are partly shaped by the environment in which they are educated, and it is past time that the city acknowledge that fact, by providing them with the space they deserve.”
A copy of the letter is posted here.