Southern Brooklyn

Assemblymember Colton calls on city to fund class size reductions in compliance with state law

June 17, 2024 Special from the office of Assemblymember William Colton
Assemblyman William Colton
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The city needs to become serious about reducing class size in its public schools, contends Assemblymember William Colton (D — Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Dyker Heights), who is concerned that the New York City Department of Education has not yet taken major steps to comply with legislation passed in Albany, two years ago, that mandated such a reduction.

The recently announced “hold-harmless” agreement means that public schools across the city that have lower enrollment will not lose funding, even if that is not guaranteed for the full 2024-2025 school year, raising the concern that some schools might have to make potentially damaging mid-year cuts in staff. In addition, the DOE has so far set aside just $137 million to hire new teachers, with almost 500 city public schools receiving too little money to hire even one more teacher, according to the not-for-profit organization Class Size Matters, which points to the mayor’s executive budget and DOE’s draft class size plan, contending that both “make insufficient investments in new teachers and space.”

“For years, parents and educators have been pushing to reduce class sizes in New York City because they know that larger classes mean pupils receive less personalized attention, and less personalized attention often means that students who need additional assistance fall behind and may be unable to catch up,” said Colton, a former teacher. “The state legislature passed a law intended to address this issue in 2022; that law required the city’s DOE to develop a plan, working with educators, to reduce class size in all grades by September 2028. Yet, two years later, the city is still avoiding doing what needs to be done and has not provided adequate funding to jumpstart the process.”

Indeed, Class Size Matters contends that, rather than resulting in smaller classes, DOE “policies have caused class sizes to increase due to repeated budget cuts, while also slashing spending on more space.”

“This is, quite simply, unacceptable,” said Colton. “The city must start funding policies that result in smaller class sizes across the system. Our children deserve no less.”

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