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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Tue, Nov 27, 2007

Education Group Finds That City Needs To Add Hundreds Of Classrooms

By Rebecca Spitz, NY1 News

A new report says the city's budget plan falls far short of what's needed to really reduce overcrowding in the lowest performing schools.

The report, released Tuesday by the watchdog group, Campaign for Fiscal Equity, finds the city will still need to create another 866 new classrooms to meet class-size standards. That translates to the DOE being somewhere between 19,000-20,000 seats short.

The CFE wants the Department of Education to make the lowest performing schools a priority for class-size reduction plans. The report says the 408 schools identified by the state as being "in need of improvement" or "requiring academic progress," are more than 2,500 classrooms short of the number they need to reduce overcrowding and bring classroom size to state standards.

The group says hundreds could be created from under-utilized classrooms. But it says that even with those efforts, combined with DOE budget plans, these schools will still need more than 850 new classrooms.

The CFE says it wants to work with the schools chancellor, the public, and the state Department of Education to make sure there's a road map in place – one that could ensure results within the next several years.

Local politicians say the time for the reform is now.

"You tell a mother that has a child sitting in a classroom with 33 children in it that she has to wait four years for reduced class size,” said City Councilman Robert Jackson. “That is not acceptable. The time is now and our children cannot wait."

"It's very difficult for a teacher to devote the time that she needs to individual students when she's got approaching 30, sometimes in excess, in her classroom,” said parent George Rivera.

To put that number in context, the report says the average class size statewide is about 22 or 23 students.

Teachers' advocates say they cannot wait either, and are encouraging the Department of Education to pay attention to this report and its findings.

“The have said 'this is what you do. This is the road map. This is how it could be done and this is how it can be done immediately,'" said United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten of the CFE study.

The DOE says it has created more than 925 classrooms this year alone and will consider the report's recommendations when it gets more state money. As of now, the money has not been set aside.

-- Rebecca Spitz


Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >