Friday, May 9

Not-so-breaking news: Residential construction outpacing school construction


Popular, successful elementary schools are overcrowded because too many families want to attend them. Not really news, is it? It is when kids start getting put on waiting lists at neighborhood schools because the city hasn’t planned for the influx of kids living in new apartment buildings in those neighborhoods.

That's the story in several school zones in District 2 and elsewhere, according to an article in today's Times, which focuses largely on downtown Manhattan, where construction and residential conversions have proceeded at a fierce pace in recent years. The discrepancy between school seats and planned construction has been the topic of several recent policy reports – including one issued today by Comptroller William Thompson’s office, titled “Growing Pains: Reform Department of Education Capital Planning to Keep Pace with New York City’s Residential Construction.”

It was also the subject of a hearing last night in Manhattan's Community Board 2, held at PS 41 in Greenwich Village. I stopped by the meeting, which, in contrast to a meeting in January where parents aired their concerns about overcrowding, focused on concrete steps District 2 residents and elected officials can take to influence the DOE's capital plan. I’ll have more details about the meeting next week, but here’s the short version of what I learned: it takes serious organization and serious work to get the DOE to commit to building new schools, but investing time and energy can pay off. (Yesterday, the DOE announced that it has finalized plans to create new school just up the street from PS 41 -- I'm willing to bet the timing of that announcement had a little something to do with the public meeting on the calendar.)

Mayoral control of schools should allow the mayor to require major developers to fund school creation; since I moved to the city, I’ve been puzzled as to why this is not so. It seems like a total no-brainer, not something that should require policy reports and public hearings and families being locked out of their zoned schools to make happen.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the article didn't mention Greenpoint and Williamsburg as areas also hit with lots of construction and no real plans for schools or dealing with overcrowding in popular schools.

Anonymous said...

I'd add Fort Greene, Dumbo....

District 13 in general....

Ginger said...

All of the above are mentioned in the City Comptroller's full report
http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/

No mention of 321, which seems like an obvious one at 122% capacity & 4th Ave construction. Also, no mention of the impact of Atlantic Yards development.

Anonymous said...

There are schools in district 13 that are not overcrowded. Some of the new ( and the old) residents just refuse to send their children to any of them..well, except PS8 which is on the verge of becoming overcrowded, if it isn't already. If all the residents of district 13 worked together and we pooled our resources we could make the schools more desirable and we could have better choices.