Schools feel press of growing demand

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The northwest Bronx’s schools have received funding for over 2,000 new seats, but one fundamental question remains: where to put them?

On Jan. 15, parents from the area met with members of District 10’s Community Education Council (CEC) to address a lack of space in the area’s overcrowded schools. 

The Department of Education (DOE) has allocated $4.4 billion for 33,000 new seats in New York City public schools, including 2,192 seats for District 10. But finding space in existing schools has proved challenging. 

Installing the seats would involve either building new space or remodeling existing space — a dilemma both the CEC and the DOE have yet to solve. 

“The strange situation is that the money is there, but the implementation is not,” AmPark Neighborhood School parent and CEC second vice president Dean Parker said in an e-mail after the meeting. 

Seven schools in District 10 were among those cited as overcrowded in a report released by comptroller Scott Stringer’s office in July. Those include the Sheila Mencher School (P.S./M.S. 95) on Hillman Avenue, where the latest CEC meeting took place. 

“We see District 10 as an extreme example of what’s happening around the city,” Leonie Haimson, executive director of advocacy group Class Size Matters, said in July. 

In the Spuyten Duyvil, Fieldston and north Riverdale neighborhoods, funding has been allocated for 456 seats. Kingsbridge, Norwood and Bedford Park are expected to find space for 1,280 seats, while University Heights has received funding for 456.  

The conundrum has moved area parents to ask the DOE to take action. 

Call for innovation

In a resolution drafted by the CEC, which it is set to pass at its next meeting, members praised the DOE’s “Four Pillars” plan, which sets out the department’s vision for improving student achievement. But the council called for what Mr. Parker referred to as “utilization innovation.”

“We can see the utilization tsunami coming. It has been bad and it is getting worse, and the same old and same old will not help us,” he said. 

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