Boro gets least funding per student: Report

By Sadef Ali Kully

As New York public schools open their doors to students, funding per student in Queens remains tight, much like the borough’s crowded school buildings, according to a report released Tuesday by the city’s Independent Budget Office.

The report focused on the public school budgets per student across the city’s districts and boroughs.

Schools in Queens receive, on average, $1,310 less per pupil than schools in the Bronx, which receives $8,902 per student.

Citywide, per-pupil allocations go from a high average of $8,255 in districts such as in Brooklyn’s Education District 16 to a low average of $3,800 in Corona and/or Elmhurst Educational District 24.

The largest per-pupil allocations are found in District 7 in the South Bronx; District 16 in central Brooklyn; Districts 4 and 5 in upper Manhattan; and District 1 in the Lower East Side.

The lowest per student allocations are found in Districts 24, 25 and 26 in Queens and District 2 in Manhattan.

IBO is a publicly funded city agency that provides nonpartisan information about the city’s budget to the public and their elected officials.

IBO said in the report, “This variation is not unexpected. Per-pupil spending is a function of school size, with large schools generally receiving less funding per pupil than schools with fewer students.”

Queens, with the largest average school size, had the lowest per-pupil allocations, while Manhattan and the Bronx, with the two smallest average school sizes, had the two largest per-pupil allocations.

The variation comes despite the approval of over 38,000 new seats citywide in coming years as part of the city’s capital education budget plan, which is estimated at $13.5 billion.

The Department of Education acknowledged that schools citywide are overcrowded by 44 percent during a City Council hearing in March.

Leonie Hamison, an advocate of making classroom sizes smaller and head of the education advocacy group Class Size Matters, said despite the DOE promising to end trailers and create more seats, nothing has changed.

“They promised to replace the seats—half a billion dollars and nothing is being done,” she said. “I am concerned. The schools are getting more overcrowded.”

Hamison added, “They are adding new trailers in Forest Hills schools.”

In a radio interview on NPR’s Brian Lehrer Show, School Chancellor Carmen Fariña said nine new schools are currently in the process of being zoned but were constructed to alleviate some of the overcrowding.

Four of the schools are in Queens: PS 349 and MS 249 on 164th Street in Jamaica Hills; PS 360 on 112th Avenue in St. Albans; and PS 361 on 39th Avenue in Woodside.

The new schools will not be enough, according to Class Size Matters, which projected in a 2014 report an estimated 70 percent student increase over the next ten years would require 100,000 seats in the city’s capital education budget plan.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.