Queens Borough President Melinda Katz went on about education inequity in her State of the Borough Address this morning at LaGuardia Community College, 31-10 Thompson Ave, Long Island City.
In comparison to all other boroughs the Queens education is the most underfunded and overcrowded, she said.
“We crunched the numbers to see just how much we are, “Feeling the Squeeze,” and here is what we found. In Queens, our public schools are at 106 percent capacity,” said Katz. “Most of the other boroughs aren’t even close. Brooklyn, Manhattan, they’re just at over 85 percent.”
“As a city we must address these inequities. Our families and neighborhoods are growing rapidly, outpacing the creation of seats at our schools,” she added.
Katz thanked Lorraine Grillo and the School Construction Authority (SCA) for their work building more seats for the NYC students. According to the SCA website, school districts in Queens County are in need of hundreds to thousands of student seating.
The City Council conducted a study of their own which confirmed that Queens is suffering from overcrowding more than any other borough. They listed Queens as having 235 overutilized schools, having an excess of 21,569 enrolled students. While it is clear that the overflow of Queens public schools is a problem, what is not as obvious is where to put the students.
The Council study concluded that their largest roadblock would be finding space to build schools. School district 24 (Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth, and Middle Village) exemplifies the issue. “CSD 24 is divided by two major highways (I-495 and I-278), Queens Boulevard, the Long Island Railroad and freight railroad tracks, as well as several large cemeteries. There are only two vacant parcels that are located outside of heavily industrial areas that meet the site size requirements for SCA to consider constructing a new school,” the study found.
The council study suggested, creating specific school plans, expanding the use of special programs to attract students to underutilized facilities and ensure equity of access, adjusting boundaries and school zone lines to reduce overcrowding, and to have the School Diversity Advisory Group should consider school capacity and utilization as part of its larger diversity and integration plan.
Currently the SCA has not listed any Queens districts in their lineup of new school sites.
Despite unwanted conditions, Katz was still proud of the Queens public school system, “Maybe the best thing about our schools is that they are so strong despite the incredible overcrowding in this borough.”
Other topics Katz reviewed in her state of the borough address included:
- The 2020 census
- Immigration policies
- Investments made into public parks and libraries
- Affordable housing
- Gun violence as a public health issue
- A memorial made for Vietnam veterans