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ERIC Number: ED538857
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jul
Pages: 86
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Capital Promises: Why NYC Children Don't Have the School Buildings They Need
Connell, Noreen
Educational Priorities Panel
The objective of this report is to answer the big questions about whether in the foreseeable future most school overcrowding in New York City will be eliminated and all city children will have class sizes and access to school libraries, science labs, art/music rooms, and physical fitness activities that are the norm for students in the rest of the state. The short answer is maybe, but not within the next few years. The Educational Priorities Panel (EPP) tackled these questions in the wake of a state budget agreement in the spring of 2006 to provide more school facilities funding to New York City. Instead of adopting a more ambitious BRICKS facilities plan fashioned by plaintiffs in a 14-year Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit, the NYS Legislature and the Governor created an EXCEL plan. This plan essentially met the Mayor's demand that the financing of the city's $13.1 billion "Children First" 2005-09 capital plan be restructured to ensure that at least half the funding be provided by the state. If the BRICKS plan had prevailed, the state would have provided the city school system with an additional $9.2 billion above the state's $6.5 billion commitment for half of the city's capital plan funding. In November 2006, the state's highest court set aside a lower court ruling that would have provided the extra $9.2 billion for facilities. The 2006 Court of Appeals decision not only reduced funding for facilities, but also set aside BRICKS' focus on student needs and better benchmarks for upgrading school facilities. The ruling also lowered estimates for the cost of bringing instruction up to the level of adequacy for the rest of the state. This has implications for how facilities are used even when rooms are available for extra classes and activities. Two thirds of community school districts currently do not have a school overcrowding problem, yet their school budgets are so low that class sizes remain large and there are not enough personnel needed to staff specialized spaces, such as librarians. Despite assertions by city officials before the courts that the "Children First" 2005-09 capital plan addressed the deficiencies identified by the court, EPP's review of the capital plan at midpoint finds that while some progress will be made, not enough will be accomplished by 2009 to even minimally approach the standards for school buildings that are the norm in the rest of the state. Troubling patterns from previous capital plans have reemerged along with new unanticipated developments. These findings are described in greater detail in Part Three of this report. Parts One and Two of the report provide the reader with background information on similarities among big-city capital plans and the recent New York State history of facilities initiatives and judicial rulings. Appended are: (1) NYC School Construction Authority New Seats Created 1989 to 2006; (2) Third Capital Plan Capacity Projects; and (3) Report to Assemblyman Lafayette on Building Aid Project Approvals. (Contains 91 footnotes.)
Educational Priorities Panel. 225 Broadway 39th Floor, New York, NY 10007. Tel: 212-964-7347; e-mail: epp@edprioritiesorg; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: New York Community Trust; Scherman Foundation, Inc.; Schott Foundation for Public Education
Authoring Institution: Educational Priorities Panel
Identifiers - Location: New York