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Budget, Education & City Services

Recommendations to NYC Council Working Group on School Planning, Siting, and Overcrowding

WHEREAS, Community Board Five's residential population is growing; and

WHEREAS, All but one zoned elementary school that contain classes from K to 5 and that serves CB5 children are at or over capacity:

WHEREAS, Overcrowding has been an issue for our district since 2000; and

WHEREAS, In many overcrowded schools, cluster rooms (science lab, music room, etc) have been eliminated to make way to general education classrooms; and

WHEREAS, Schools begin lunch period as early as 9:30am in order to ensure that the entire school population can have a lunch period; and

WHEREAS, Recess and gym times have been reduced or eliminated for lack of space; and

WHEREAS, The Department of Education (DOE) enrollment projections are inconsistent, erratic and at times conflicted: For example, School Construction Authority (SCA) consultants Grier Partnership, authors of the Blue Book, wrote a report entitled ENROLLMENT PROJECTIONS 2015 TO 2024 NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS in which they projected a decrease of 57,000 K-8 students, yet if one uses the city's own housing start data in conjunction with the City's own planning formula there is an indication that more than 58,000 additional students will be enrolled in 2024; and

WHEREAS, While the DOE and SCA plan enrollment at the borough level, school district level and at the school sub-district level, enrollments and overcrowding can only be adequately addressed at each school zone level; and

WHEREAS, Residential growth trends indicate that the schools will be more severely overcrowded in the future; and

WHEREAS, School capacity is based on a student / teacher ratio that is very high: (25 students per teacher for K-2 and 28 students per teacher for grades 3-5), which exceeds the Contract 4 Excellence State Standard; and

WHEREAS, The CEQR standards assign 0.12 kid per new residential unit in Manhattan, regardless of the size of residential unit, a standard that is antiquated and no longer reflects the reality of the residential trends in CB5; and

WHEREAS, New school consideration is only triggered when DOE finds that a school's overcrowded population exceeds 5% of its current population; and

WHEREAS, The DOE planning process does not take into account cumulative residential developments,  and school planning is therefore NOT triggered by individually proposed projects under 310 units; and

WHEREAS, The siting and building process is not proactive and can take up to five or six years from an identified need to fund, locate and site a school (which is the entirety of a child's elementary education);  and

WHEREAS, The SCA does not engage in efficiently scouting for new school sites; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends that the CEQR manual be updated to better assess the school age population, by considering the pace of construction AND conversion, and by taking into account the size of residential units; and further be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends that DOE require more accurate and transparent enrollment projections by independent experts as part of the CEQR formula and

  1. Urges DOE and SCA to gather accurate and timely figures on  birth rates, migrations and residential development so that its calculations reflect the reality of needs on the ground; and
  2. Urges the City Council of NYC to levy an impact fee on all developers (based on a sliding scale)  in order to mitigate the impact of residential growth upon school seating; and
  3. Urges the City Council to implement this fee on a sliding scale so as not to impact development but rather to supplement the ability of DOE and SAC to provide schools seats in a timely manner; and
  4. Urges the City to lower the maximum class size in order to conform with the State Contract 4 Excellence, which requires class size decrease in order to secure funding; and further
  5. Urges the City Council to develop a remedy for parents to pursue when a school is overcrowded, or a class size is too large.

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