April 19, 2017
Chronic failures with school planning and siting have resulted in overcrowding citywide. These power points listed below reveal how that latest data from the School Construction Authority’s 2015-2016 “Blue Book” indicate that more than half (56%) of NYC schools are overcrowded (at or over 100% of target utilization). Over half a million students (575,000) are enrolled in these schools, about 35,000 students more than the previous year.
Yet the February 2017 capital plan only funds about 41,000 seats – which the DOE says are only a little more than the 71,000 seats needed to alleviate overcrowding and accommodate enrollment growth. There are 12 school districts where the schools average 100% or more utilization and 14 districts that average between 99% and 80% utilization. Our estimates are that the need for seats is far larger: 100,000 seats or more.
The DOE apparently bases its estimates of the need for seats via a non-transparent methodology, based upon two often contradictory sources: enrollment projections produced by consultants whose projections have been proven to be unreliable and erratic from year to year, along with five- year and ten-year housing start data and a City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) formula based on census data 20 years old.
Moreover, the City Planning process is inherently flawed: when large-scale new residential projects or rezoning is proposed: the proposal must be predicted to increase school overcrowding by at least 5%, based on the CEQR formula to consider the need for a new school, even if the schools in the neighborhood are already overcrowded.
Even when schools have been funded in the capital plan, it often takes ten years or more to site and build them. Given the rapid pace of development throughout the city, school overcrowding will likely become even more worse in years to come.
Check out the power point below for more details on how the process of school planning and siting needs to improve, and here for data on how overcrowded the schools in your district already are.
The City Council has created an internal working group to come up with proposals to reform the process. We hope that this process will be transparent, inclusive, and elicit ideas from experts, parents, and members of the public.