New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson alongside City Council member Daniel Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights), chair of the Finance Committee, this week released the Council’s 2018 report, Planning to Learn: The School Building Challenge.
The new report is a detailed analysis of the space challenges faced by New York City’s public school system and a comprehensive set of recommendations to address the ongoing and severe overcrowding that exists in the city’s public schools.
“The greatest city in the world deserves educational facilities to match. While the City has made significant new investments in our children’s education, there is more we can do.We hope this report spurs new opportunities for collaboration between different stakeholders that support the Council’s efforts in providing the best educational opportunities to the youngest New Yorkers,”said Johnson.
According to the the watchdog group, Class Size Matter, 43% NYC schools were overcrowded last year, and according to DOE data, about 575,000 students (over 50%) were enrolled in overcrowded schools.
The report calls for greater accountability in the school planning process, and provides recommendations that can help expedite new school construction in order to alleviate overcrowding including advocating for the Schools Construction Authority (SCA) to receive Design-Build authorization from New York State.
“To create additional school seats, two major things must be done: we must improve the demographic information we collect, and work with real estate interests to find seats in the most overcrowded school districts. While the city has taken measures to create additional school seats over the past four years, more work remains to be done,” said Dromm.
The five-point plan includes such recommendations as making it easier and faster to build schools, describing the overcrowding problem accurately in regards to data, giving the public and decision makers the information they need, increasing the use of other approaches to reduce overcrowding and foster diversity and exploring new funding strategies.
For the report, the council heard proposals and concerns from a wide variety of stakeholders including Community Education Council members, parents, education advocates, real estate developers, architects, elected officials, and the School Construction Authority.
The report along with potential legislation stemming from the findings, will be addressed next month in a joint city council hearing between the Education, Land Use and Finance Committees.
“This action plan proposes a multifaceted solution that will facilitate school construction and include other creative methods of driving down overcrowding. I am pleased to work alongside NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Education Committee Chairperson Mark Treyger to ensure that NYC public school students have access to the facilities they need to learn,” added Dromm.