The UFT reported a modest decrease in the total number of oversize classes in New York City public schools this fall for the second year in a row. By the 10th day of school, 401 schools citywide were out of compliance with 2,056 oversize classes, compared with 437 schools with 2,181 classes the previous year.
Ellen Gallin Procida, the director of the UFT Grievance Department, attributed the improvement to the increased pressure the union has exerted, including the creation in January 2017 of a labor-management committee focused on schools with long histories of oversize classes.
She said the new system in the proposed contract would do even more to strengthen and accelerate the process to remedy oversize classes in all schools.
“Because the UFT understands the importance of getting relief to teachers, we set a priority in this latest round of contract negotiations for finding a speedier process to eliminate overages,” she said.
The Department of Education-UFT contract sets strict class-size limits [see chart at right]. Under the class size reduction process in place this fall, principals had 10 school days to resolve class-size overages. In cases in which classes weren’t brought into compliance with contractual limits, the union went to arbitration. But since the arbitrator hears the cases of only five schools per day, some teachers do not get relief for months.
The number of schools with oversize classes this year fell in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan, but climbed in Queens and Staten Island. In Queens, 100 schools filed class-size grievances, up from 91 the previous year, while in Staten Island, 35 schools filed grievances, up from 31.
Some of the most overcrowded high schools in the city made notable headway this year.
Michael Ferruso, the chapter leader at Hillcrest HS, reported that his overcrowded, multi-session school had no oversize classes on day 10 for the first time in eight years.
“That’s a big achievement, and we’re proud of it,” he said. “Through the pressure we’ve been putting on the administration to reach compliance without arbitration, we were able to bring the original 53 early overages to zero through consultation.”