The NYC Council has now proposed in its preliminary budget response that DOE allocate $250M next year for class size reduction. This amount would be used to hire 2500 new teachers, which could then reduce class size in as many as 10,000 smaller classes citywide, since each new teacher and class creates smaller classes for every other class in the same grade and/or subject in each school.
Now we have to ensure that the Council negotiates hard and the Mayor and the Chancellor agree that this funding is included in the final budget. How can you help?
First, sign our (slightly revised) petition, if you haven't already.
Second, if you're a member of a CEC, PTA or other community organization, please consider passing this resolution, urging that at least $250 million be spent on class size reduction next year; please also invite us to your next meeting to do a presentation on how and why smaller classes are so critical.
If you're not a CEC member, please consider sharing the resolution with your district CEC, Community board or other organization and urge them to approve it as well.
NYC Council proposes $250 million for class size reduction next year
In their Preliminary Budget Response, the NYC Council proposes that next year $250 million should be allocated to lowering class size, especially targeted towards struggling schools with vulnerable student populations. This would allow the Department of Education to hire an additional 2,500 teachers, which could lower class size in as many as 10,000 classrooms, as each new class that is formed can reduce class sizes in as many as four classes per school in the same grade and/or subject.
As the Council points out, when students return to full-time, in person learning, reducing class size will be imperative to provide additional learning support and help them catch up after a year of remote or blended learning.
The Council budget proposal also includes fully funding Fair Student Funding at about $605 million and $110 million to ensure that every public school has at least one full-time school counselor and one full-time social worker, as well as other programs and initiatives.
Council Member Danny Dromm, Chair of the Finance Committee said, “When I was a fourth-grade teacher at P.S. 199, I knew that with my class of 35 plus I was simply unable to meet the needs of all my students. The fact that NYC teachers and students have had to struggle for years with the huge class sizes that exist in our public schools is simply unconscionable. These excessive class sizes were a primary reason that the State’s highest court in the CFE lawsuit concluded that NYC students were deprived of their right to a sound basic education. That’s why I am thrilled that this year, with the support of Speaker Johnson and my fellow Council members, and the additional billions in state and federal funds that our schools are due to receive, we can finally start to make a significant change to these unconscionable conditions. I truly hope the Mayor and the Chancellor take heed of our unique opportunity to lower class size and agree that it is finally time for a change.”
“Large class sizes have plagued our schools for far too long – creating problematic teacher to student ratios. Crowded classrooms hinder proper teacher instruction and prevent effective individualized attention, which children need. With this new commitment of long-overdue federal and state funding, we must ensure these resources are used to reduce class sizes, build additional instructional space and hire more teachers. Class size reductions lead to better student performance and academic outcomes. As we negotiate the budget, I will continue to advocate with Speaker Johnson and my Council colleagues for funding to meet the needs of our students and school communities,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.
Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital Budget said, “NYC class sizes citywide and in my district are far larger than the state average, and far larger than they should be to provide students with an equitable opportunity to learn. Because of the new infusion of state and federal education aid, next year provides a unique opportunity to begin to transform our schools by creating the smaller classes that will provide students with the additional personalized feedback and support they will need to help them recover from more than a year of disrupted learning. In the long run, to be able to lower class size citywide, we must also expand the capital budget for school construction to provide more classroom space, and the federal infrastructure bill proposed by President Biden contains funds to do just that.”
“For years, lowering class size has been the top priority of most NYC parents and teachers to improve our schools. We finally have the resources from the state and the federal government to do what we’ve known for years would make all the difference in the world for our students. Research shows that while smaller classes benefit all children, those who make the greatest gains are students of color, kids in poverty, those with special needs, and English Language Learners, who collectively make up the majority of students in our schools. Yet according to DOE data from the 2019-2020, nearly a third of all NYC students were in classes of thirty or more. I want to thank Speaker Johnson, Chairs Dromm, Treyger and Rosenthal and the rest of the City Council for stepping up to the plate and saying, there is no more time to waste. Especially given all the losses our children have suffered over the last year, they will need smaller classes next year more than ever before,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.