Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Local Law 167 & 168, Information and Memo to City Council

Two bills were passed last year by the City Council, with the goal of helping to alleviate school overcrowding: Local Law 167 which required the DOE to make more transparent its data sources and methodology for projecting the need for new school seats, and Local Law 168, which created a Task Force for School Siting to expedite the identification of locations where new schools could be built.
Both laws  resulted from recommendations made by the City Council Working Group report Planning to Learn, as well as problems we had previously identified in our reports, including, Space Crunch and  Seats Gained and Lost in NYC Schools: The Untold Story.
Local Law 167 came into force on December 1, 2019.  The SCA/DOE claims to have provided the data here:
But much of the data required is missing, and in fact the DOE is providing no more data than in years past:
  • No data is posted on the number of seats lost over the last few years or projected into the future from lapsed leases, removed TCUs, or the elimination of mini-schools or annexes, that have a significant impact on the need for new seats.
  • No disaggregated projections are provided for the seats needs, disaggregated by grade span or type of school, i.e. Pre-K/elementary schools/middle schools, either citywide, or  by district or sub-district, as called for in the law.
  • No seats need estimates are provided by sub-district at all.
  • The law mandates that they provide an explanation of all the inputs that help determine their projections, including “ any categories of non-quantitative criteria considered, which may include but need not be limited to, facility replacements, grade expansion and truncation, school rezonings, co-locating schools, and converting space in existing facilities.”  None of these inputs are reported on the webpage or elsewhere.
  • Finally, the law requires not just the quantitative and qualitative inputs that the SCA/DOE relies upon to determine its projections, but also the “The process … used to determine identified seat need”.  Yet nowhere has the SCA or DOE offered any explanation of the methodology used to incorporate and analyze all these various inputs and data sources, including current overcrowding, housing starts, projected seat loss and their consultant’s enrollment predictions, to arrive at the identified seats needs estimate published in the five-year capital plan.

The goals of Local 168 in creating the School Siting task force have not been fulfilled either.  See the memo below, sent to the co-sponsors of the law last week.  Feel free to send to your council member as well! Click here to find your city council member.

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