East Side, West Side, school overcrowding is issue


By Gabriel Zucker

Elected officials staged another protest of the School District 2 overcrowding crisis last month, when Congressmember Carolyn Maloney convened a news conference outside Public School 116 on E. 33rd St. Maloney lamented that school’s loss of pre-K and enrichment programs, and its 28-student kindergarten classes.

“School District 2 is one of the only districts where the city expects the school population to grow,” Maloney said of the district, which is already “one of the most overcrowded districts in the city.”

Maloney and others cited a study showing that 3,377 new housing units will soon be completed in P.S. 116’s zone — bringing with them an estimated total of 337 new elementary school students — yet no new schools are being planned. There is a 630-seat school included in the East River Realty Company development at E. 35th St. and First Ave. but that school is specifically set to handle the families that particular development brings in.

“With this crisis that is so well documented, why is Manhattan getting only 5 percent of the capital budget [for new schools construction]?” Maloney asked. “It is unfair, and I would say discriminatory,” she stated. “We need answers, and we need them now.”

Maloney was joined by Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Brian Kavanagh, City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez and Michael Mulgrew, United Federation of Teachers vice president. Along with the politicians were parents closely involved in the school and several students, who wore stickers reading “Got Schools?”

The officials skewered ideas such as reducing arts and science classes, and repeatedly bemoaned the fact that many students would have to eat lunch too early, leaving them hungry later.

“If you give your kids lunch at 10:20 in the morning, they’re not going to eat it,” said Gottfried. “I think we all know that hungry kids get cranky. Even in the Legislature, hungry legislators get cranky.”

The speakers did not offer any specific proposals, but instead called on the mayor and the Department of Education to provide one.

“The mayor has very detailed plans for all kinds of things,” said Gottfried. “The question for the mayor is — where is the plan for the schools?”

One parent pointed out that the overcrowding issue is becoming an increasingly prominent one.

“If you don’t think this is a big issue,” she said, “try getting all the elected officials and parents together in July.”