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Students return to school as DOE fights overcrowding

Students will head back to school next week, including kids in Queens. The city has worked to alleviate issues of overcrowding in the borough, but challenges remain.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Patrick Donachie

As public schools open in Queens Sept. 8, the city Department of Education is adding new seats to keep up with the rising demand and combat the continuing issue of overcrowding in Queens.

According to “Space Overutilization in New York City Schools,” a DOE analysis of the 2014-2015 school year that was released in June Queens school districts were operating at 109 percent capacity, with 281,634 students outstripping a target capacity of 259,231. That translated into a shortage of 22,400 seats.

District 25, which includes Flushing, was at 122 percent capacity, while District 26, which includes Bayside, was at 120 percent capacity.

According to the DOE’s Capital Plan for 2015-2019, funding is allocated for more than 18,200 new seats, including 2,300 new high school seats in five buildings for Queens this fall. The DOE also created 2,500 new seats in five buildings in 2014 and nearly 3,900 new seats in seven different buildings in 2015 in the borough

Additionally, the DOE said about 2,000 Queens pre-K seats were opened in the past two years.

Citywide, schools are at 96 percent capacity. Queens and Staten Island are the only two boroughs where schools were over capacity, according to the 2016 DOE report.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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