Buery And Farina On De Blasio's Top Team To Work On Schools' Over-crowding

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De Blasio with Deputy Mayor Buery

[City Hall]

Working group will partner with district and charter school communities and non-profits to develop new approaches to sharing space, tackling overcrowding


Mayor Bill de Blasio today named Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to lead a working group on school space issues. The working group will partner with school communities, principals and parents from both district and charter schools on long-term strategies to address space needs.

With many school children attending class in mobile classroom units and multiple issues facing charter school operators, today’s announcement marks an aggressive attempt to deal with space issues in our school system.

Fariña will bring her decades of experience in public schools as a teacher, principal and superintendent to bear on the issue, while Buery, former president of the Children’s Aid Society, comes with the perspective of community-based organizations and as an operator of charter schools. They will focus on the most acute space needs facing the school system.

According to the latest Mayor’s Management Report, 28 percent of elementary and middle school students, and 48 percent of high schoolers are learning in buildings that are overcrowded. There are 282 mobile classroom units currently in use for instruction. To address those conditions, including in overcrowded districts in communities like Bay Ridge and Corona, the working group will identify long-term space solutions that alleviate overcrowding and phase out mobile classrooms as permanent instruction sites.

The working group will also foster positive outcomes in future co-locations, a longstanding source of friction within school buildings. Buery and Fariña, working with charter and district school communities, will collaborate on new shared-space strategies that allow multiple schools to better grow alongside one another, pool and share specialized space, better engage parents, and anticipate long-term needs more fully before co-locations are arranged.

Additional members of the working group will be announced in the days ahead.

“These are our children, and the era of forcing schools into unworkable scenarios needs to end. We are committed to engaging with every school community on solutions to meet the needs of every child,” said Chancellor Fariña. “With a willingness to work with all stakeholders, we can set aside the heated rhetoric around space that has divided school communities for years and focus on solutions for our children.”

“We believe in good public schools—it doesn’t matter if they’re district schools or charter schools. We want an approach that treats every child with fairness,” said Deputy Mayor Buery. “I am looking forward to working with Chancellor Fariña to start the conversation with people in every school community.”

“We are honored to partner with Deputy Mayor Buery, Chancellor Fariña, and the rest of the working group to find ways to help New York City school children succeed by providing them with safe and welcoming classrooms,” said Emary Aronson, managing director of education for the Robin Hood Foundation. “We know from experience that a great education can propel a child out of poverty, and making sure they have adequate space to learn and grow is an important first step.”

“Schools need to work together, and I’m a believer in this administration’s approach to space-sharing. Communities must be consulted, parents must be listened to, and our neediest students cannot be left behind. As a parent of students with special needs, the battles over space in recent years have meant a never-ending struggle to ensure my kids have what they need to succeed in school. I am thrilled the Chancellor and Deputy Mayor are forming a working group to diffuse these conflicts before they start. This is step one in a long-term effort to improve co-locations, so every child is treated with fairness and equity,” said public school parent and District 75 CEC President Gloria Corsino.

“We are grateful for being asked to serve on the space working group by Mayor de Blasio. We look forward to working collaboratively with the mayor’s administration and the other members of the working group to make sure that all New York City public school children have access to equitable space and that all public schools, charter and district, have the chance to grow, learn from each other, and offer New York City public school children the high-quality education they deserve,” said Dave Levin, KIPP Co-Founder. 


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