Dear Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein and the City Council: Overcrowded schools deprive NYC children of a quality education. As revealed by recent reports by Manhattan Borough President Stringer and Comptroller Thompson, residential development is far outpacing new school construction in many of our neighborhoods, leading to severe overcrowding and excessively high class sizes. OUR CHILDREN NEED A BETTER PLAN! This fall, the DOE plans to release a new five year capital plan. We call on you to implement the following reforms: 1. PROPOSE ENOUGH NEW SCHOOL SEATS to relieve existing overcrowding, accommodate ongoing growth, and reduce class size in all grades, as the state now requires. This will require a far more ambitious capital plan than the last. 2. PLAN FOR GROWTH. Work with parents, elected officials and other city agencies to create a transparent procedure for projecting new development and estimating its impact on schools. 3. PLAN SO THAT CLASS SIZES CAN BE REDUCED. The city has adopted a state-mandated plan to lower class size to 20 in grades K-3, and 23 in all other grades. The capital plan must be aligned with these goals. 4. PLAN AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD LEVEL. Instead of focusing only on school districts, analyze the need for seats at the neighborhood level, and build accordingly. 5. CORRECT THE CURRENT CAPACITY ESTIMATES that understate the actual level of overcrowding in our schools, by collaborating with parents, educators and community leaders. 6. CREATE NEW INCENTIVES and financing mechanisms to encourage developers to build schools along with residential and office space.
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