CEC 26 calls for amendments to class size reduction bill, geographic priorities

CEC 26
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The members of Community Education Council (CEC) 26 approved a resolution during Wednesday’s meeting calling for amendments to be made to the class size reduction bill and urging for geographic priorities within the district’s high schools to be retained. Additionally, CEC 26 released a statement on the school budget reductions.

The amendment that CEC 26 requested for Gov. Kathy Hochul to consider making to the class size reduction bill was related to a series of provisions. One provision was for the funding of other allowable programs under the Contracts for Excellence to not be reduced from current levels to fund the mandated reductions in class size.

Another provision was for the active and meaningful participation with district superintendents, Community Education Councils, Presidents’ Councils, Citywide Council on High Schools and other parent stakeholder groups in developing the plan to reduce class sizes. This, according to the Council, would allow for more community input on the prioritized list of schools to be targeted for class size reduction.

They also called for the Department of Education to include schools from all 32 community school districts as well as from a prioritized list of high schools provided by the Citywide Council on High Schools to be included in the class size reduction plan, such that each school district is treated equal in priority for planning and receiving funding for class size reduction programs.

They requested for the immediate allocation of funds in capital budget for building new capacity for severely overcrowded districts, regardless of academic performance levels or poverty levels. Finally, the preservation or expansion of the current numbers of seats in existing specialized programs upon implementation of class size reduction programs.

In CEC 26’s second resolution, the Council called for New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks to permanently retain geographic priorities for high schools with utilization rates exceeding 100% while complying with the class size target in the class size reduction bill. The Council also submitted a letter to Banks and Mayor Eric Adams in regards to school budget reductions. They called for the protection of certain support programs, like English Language Learning (ELL), after-school programs and clubs and special education. While they didn’t oppose a budget reduction, they called for a gradual decrease over multiple years rather than an immediate and deep drop.

“Fully implementing drastic budget reductions all at once causes significant disruptions to our schools,” the Council said. “On the other hand, a gradual reduction phased in over multiple years, will soften the harsh impact on school programs that are still needed for recovery from the pandemic.”

The Council also addressed reports that the Department of Education intends to reduce budgets of schools with enrollment shortfalls, with a reduction in teachers being a likely action. However, the Council argues that budget reductions based on enrollment decreases can at least partially offset by the approximately $506 million in federal relief funding remaining from last year alone. They also strongly urged the Department of Education to tap into federal funding to reduce detrimental impacts on students.