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Stringer calls on city to overhaul “chaotic” space planning

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called today for an overhaul of the city’s process for matching student demand to building space, charging that the city’s current process is causing “chaos and uncertainty” for parents and students.

Standing outside of the Upper West Side’s P.S. 334, Stringer reported that more than four out of 10 Manhattan schools are either overcrowded or are losing classroom space as the city tries to cram more students into a finite number of school buildings.

The report details what are by now familiar complaints about overcrowding in Manhattan schools, which have seen their population of young students boom in recent years without a corresponding addition of seats.

But the bulk of remarks from Stringer and other elected officials this afternoon criticized the city for bumping schools from building to building, cramming students into classrooms and making decisions without giving confused parents adequate notice or opportunity to comment.

“Our schoolchildren and their families must be able to depend on schools to be a stable part of their community,” Congressman Jerrold Nadler said.

Stringer called on the city to lengthen the timeline between when the city announces space changes and the citywide school board votes on them. He also wants the city to revise its formula for determining how much space in school buildings goes unused. The city should also conduct more thorough assessments of how moving a school, or placing a school inside an existing school building, will impact the school’s students and surrounding community, Stringer said.

DOE officials told the Daily News today that they support Stringer’s goals and gave schools adequate notice that their space could be used differently next year.

Stringer’s demand for more detailed impact statements build on last month’s ruling by a state judge that the Department of Education did not adequately follow the process for public input in its decisions to close 19 schools. In that decision, the judge found that the city’s formal reports of how shuttering the schools would affect students were inadequately detailed to meet legal requirements.

Here’s the letter that Stringer sent today to Chancellor Joel Klein, as well as the borough president’s report on Manhattan school overcrowding: