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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Wed, Nov 28, 2007

Overcrowded, failing city schools need extra classrooms, study says

By Carrie Melago, NY Daily News

Failing city schools need an extra 2,522 classrooms to relieve chronic overcrowding, according to a study released Tuesday by a major education advocacy group.

The study, called "A Seat of One's Own," used city data to examine the capacity of the 408 schools - housing 436,888 students - labeled failing by the state.

Queens schools are the most squeezed, falling 800 classrooms short, followed by Brooklyn at 630 rooms, and the Bronx at 571 classes, the report by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity alleges.

"We can actually use the [Campaign for Fiscal Equity] resources that have come down and current capacity to make a dent in class size in the lowest-performing schools," said Geri Palast, executive director of the campaign.

Advocates say more than 150 failing schools citywide could reduce class size right now by hiring teachers and using currently unused space in their own buildings.

The study comes a week after city officials agreed to allocate $153 million to reduce overcrowding as part of a settlement stemming from a Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit on school funding.

Education officials said they are making headway on reducing class size and considering the recommendations in the report.

"Schools hired more than 1,300 additional teachers and created more than 925 additional classrooms this year alone," the Education Department said in a statement.

Parent George Rivera, who has three children at failing Public School 73 in the Bronx, said overcrowded classes are a distraction, since kids in them tend to act up and misbehave.

"The teachers have to spend a lot of time on discipline, and that takes away from teaching time," he said.


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 >