Press releases

UFT survey finds record number of schools have oversize classes

Number of overcrowded special ed classes more than doubles

A teachers’ union survey of New York City public schools has shown that in mid-September nearly half of the city’s schools had overcrowded classes and the number of overcrowded special education classes in regular schools had more than doubled.

According to the UFT survey, there were 670 schools with oversize general education classes in the city during the survey period, up from 660 last year, while the number of overcrowded special education classes in these schools grew from 118 to 270.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said:

“Parents and teachers know that many children need the individual time and attention that lower class sizes can provide. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education disagree, and in fact the mayor has publicly said that in a perfect world he would double class sizes. It is thanks to the contract negotiated by the UFT that there are limits to the number of children that can be crammed into our public schools classes, and we will pursue every legal alternative to bring class sizes down.”

Based on these figures, the UFT estimated that roughly 225,000 — or nearly a quarter of the system’s students — spent part or all of their first days in school in overcrowded classes, despite the fact that the overall number of oversize classes this year was 6,220, down from 6,978 last year.

Class size limits set by the UFT contract are:

  • Pre-Kindergarten: 18 students with a teacher and a paraprofessional;
  • Kindergarten: 25 students;
  • Grades 1-6: 32 students;
  • JHS/MS: 33 students in non-Title I schools; 30 in Title I schools;
  • High school: 34 students; 50 in physical education/gym.

Mulgrew added: “In some schools, under threat of legal action, principals are in the process of reducing class size to the legal limits. The UFT will begin arbitration to bring the remaining oversize general ed classes into compliance.”

The size of special education classes in general education (not District 75) schools is governed by the Individual Education Program (IEP) of each student. Such IEPs typically call for class sizes of no more eight students or in some cases no more than 12. Class size limits in such cases are set and enforced not by the UFT contract but by state regulations, and the UFT will ensure that state regulators are aware of all violations of these rules.

Among the most affected high schools were: Cardozo in Queens with 266 oversized classes; Forest Hills, also in Queens, with 244 oversize classes; Port Richmond in Staten Island with 81; Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn with 59; International School of Liberal Arts, Bronx, 24.

Among the middle and elementary schools most affected: Frederick Douglas Academy (MS 499) Manhattan, 30 oversize classes; PS/MS 194 Bronx, 27; IS 318 Brooklyn, 27; MS 210, Queens 40, MS 226 Queens, 37; PS/MS 861 Staten Island, 22.

The estimate of a total of nearly 225,000 students spending part or all of their day in overcrowded classes is based on an assumption that the average number of students in oversize classes in the high schools is 38, and the average for K-8 classes is 34.

The survey was based on school registers for the first weeks of the school year.

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