Too Many Kindergarteners
November 26th, 2007

Some of the citys most esteemed elementary schools may be losing their edge. The culprit? Too many students.

With apartment buildings rising throughout the city, nearby schools are overflowing. “In every neighborhood with a beloved school, classrooms are stuffedthe burden and blessing of a city whose residents no longer bolt for the suburbs when the kids are born,” S. Jhoanna Robledo writes in New York Magazine.

The Department of Education deserves part of the blame, the article says. The department has a rather Byzantine formula for figuring which schools are overtaxed. Further its projections of future enrollments have been riddled with errors, with the school systems planners often oblivious to development. According to Robledo, the department somehow did not notice the construction of 32 buildings in P.S. 116s area on the East Side. Even when the department sees a problem, it can take the School Construction Authority years to address it.

But part of the problem is the way New York does development. While some states and cities apparently require developers to pay an impact fee, some of which can go to new schools, in New York, developers build and reap profits while elementary school kids pay the price.

By on November 26, 2007, 11:21 am
In category: Community Development,Education,Land Use | 2 Comments »

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2 Responses to “Too Many Kindergarteners”

  1. Gail Robinson Says:
    November 27th, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    The following response to this item came from City Councilmember Gale Brewer. We thanks her for her comments and invite your response to her letter, as well as our original posting.

    “I appreciate your November 26 story on public school overcrowding, specifically in the elementary schools. This has been a particularly pressing issue on the Upper West Side, where several of our best elementary schools are experiencing severe overcrowding problems Take the case of P.S. 199, on 270 W. 70th St.: In the past five years, the kindergarten population has doubled – from three classes in 2002 to six classes this year – requiring the school to sacrifice its science room, faculty lounge and an art room, among other spaces, to meet the expanding need for regular classroom space.

    Part of the problem is that the Department of Education looks at the enrollment of the entire school district when it evaluates overcrowding, instead of considering individual situations in particularly overburdened catchment areas, which I believe is a mistake. But there are additional challenges: The majority of West Side elementary schools ( P.S. 9, P.S. 75, P.S. 84, P.S. 191, P.S. 199, P.S. 333, and P.S. 334) share buildings with at least one middle school, new developments are constantly going up, and real estate and construction costs in our city are reaching historic highs. I have been working with parents and educators for years to alleviate this problem – including encouraging the creation of the new Community School District 3 Committee on Space Issues. I have also been working in concert with Chancellor Joel Klein’s office to develop and implement new solutions to our space crunch, and I am confident, with the proper encouragement, that the department will be responsive to our space needs.

    Thank you for bringing attention to this important issue.

    Gale A. Brewer

  2. Gotham Gazette - The Wonkster » Blog Archive » Overcrowding Reprise Says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    […] For two hours, members of the finance and education committees at the City Council — including a few other pols who quickly made an appearance — questioned officials from the Department of Education on its capital budget, and not surprisingly the topic of conversation quickly gravitated towards school overcrowding. […]

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