What to look for in the forthcoming School Space Working Group’s report

This past spring, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio convened a “School Space Working Group” comprising a diverse group of education stakeholders and charged it with “recommending long-term solutions to alleviate overcrowding, foster positive outcomes in future co-locations [single school buildings housing several schools], and develop partnerships that make the best use of all of the city’s space and resources for our schools.”

In June, the Campaign for Educational Equity published a report describing how, at least in some schools, co-location has undermined students’ educational rights by exacerbating facilities problems, consuming administrators’ time, and constraining schools’ ability to provide necessary course offerings and student supports.

Following many private discussions, the School Space Working Group should soon deliver its findings and recommendations to the public. We hope that these critical issues are addressed.

In anticipation of this forthcoming report, we again share our recommendations to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña. We hope that the working group’s report includes bold steps to do the following:

  1. Assess the prevalence and extent of the violations of students’ rights in co-located schools.

  2. Broadly disseminate information about the resources, services, and supports to which all students in all schools are entitled under state statute, regulations and constitutional law. Parents, students, educators, policymakers, and the community at large must understand that all sound basic education requirements apply whatever the school size or configuration.

  3. Review and revise the Instructional Footprint to ensure sufficient classrooms, gymnasiums, laboratories, libraries, and other instructional spaces, cafeterias, offices, and storage for all schools to meet all sound-basic-education requirements, including appropriate class sizes and suitable curricula.

  4. Amend the educational impact statement (EIS) to include a review of the impact of any proposed co-location on students’ sound-basic-education rights.

  5. Quantify the number of personnel, including administrators and safety personnel, that must be added in order to administer building issues resulting from co-location.

  6. Impose a moratorium on all new co-locations until the rights violations in all existing schools are remedied.