640 New Public School Seats Now Planned and Funded for Upper East Side Following Years of Advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos
$324 million in funding secured for 2,794 school seats in School District 2
Upper East Side, NY – The Upper East Side will be getting 640 new public school seats thanks to advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos. The seats are planned as part of an estimated $324.64 million investment to fund a total of 2,794 new public school seats for School District 2, which includes the Upper East Side, along with Tribeca and the Village (912 seats) as well as Chelsea and Midtown West (1,242 seats). The seats are outlined in the School Construction Authority and Department of Education’s proposed fiscal years 2020 – 2024 five-year capital plan. Since taking office in January of 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos has been a zealous advocate for new school seats for the Upper East Side.
Over 1,400 new public school prekindergarten through eighth-grade seats have been planned, funded or built on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and Midtown East since 2014, with this announcement, following direct advocacy by Council Member Kallos.
Council Member Kallos has expressed his concerns to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Education, and in particular to the School Construction Authority (SCA) at hearings dating back to 2015. Kallos has consistently questioned the administration about the Upper East Side’s need for more school seats in at least half a dozen separate hearings including: May 28, 2015, March 16, 2016, May 16, 2016, March 8, 2017, March 21, 2017, March 26, 2018, April 18, 2018, and May 22, 2018. This summer, Kallos brought to the attention to the SCA that his district was at 102% elementary utilization and that with new construction, new seats were necessary to help prevent any further overcrowding.
When Kallos started his first term in 2014, according to reporting by WNYC, neighborhoods he represented including Yorkville, Lenox Hill and Roosevelt Island only had 123 Pre-Kindergarten seats combined. Those neighborhoods will have more than 900 seats by 2019.
The New York Times reported on a law Council Member Kallos passed to bring attention to the need for school seats. Local Law 72 of 2018 requires granular reporting on the number of children who apply, are accepted or turned away, and ultimately attend schools across the City, in order to gain insight into the difference between actual need and the SCA’s projected enrollment need. Local Law 167 of 2018, another law Kallos passed, opens up the process, data and criteria used by the Department of Education and SCA to determine identified seat need. Together, the two laws will help determine where there is the greatest need for more schools.
“Every child deserves a world-class public school education like I received at the Bronx High School of Science. We must build public school seats for every child so that we have the racially and socio-economically diverse schools this city needs to give every child the equal opportunity they deserve,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Education, and in particular School Construction Authority President Loraine Grillo for her partnership and responsiveness and for ultimately being the one who will build these public-school seats for our city’s children.”
“The SCA is dedicated to providing all children with access to high-quality school facilities and will continue to innovatively design and construct much-needed seats throughout the City,” said Lorraine Grillo SCA President and CEO.
“It is our duty to provide the highest number of public-school students in the country with high-quality education, and that means making room for students. I commend Council Member Kallos for his efforts to secure 640 new seats on the Upper East Side, as well as the Mayor’s office and the School Construction Authority for its commitment to more opportunities for our students. I look forward to continuing to partner with Council Member Kallos for more seats,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
The support and partnership of Councilman Ben Kallos and his colleagues on the City Council has been indispensable in this work. We also commend Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority for investing in our school communities,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers
“Public schools can not flourish without strong advocates who recognize their indispensable value within our communities and fight fiercely on their behalf,” said Mark Cannizzaro, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA). “CSA would like to thank Council Member Ben Kallos for standing up for the children in his district, and we also thank Mayor de Blasio, the DOE and the SCA for responding to the call with this critical investment. Council Member Kallos has been a dedicated ally to New York City school leaders since he took office, and we look forward to our continuing partnership.”
“Local 372 is thankful that the Mayor’s office and the School Construction Authority finally added 2,794 new seats to District 2 school community after so many years of advocacy. We continue to encourage the City of New York to equip our schools with adequate personnel, including cafeteria workers, school aides, paraprofessionals, SAPIS, Community Titles and our School Crossing Guards who will be needed to help parents and students navigate the streets safely to and from schools. ,” said Shaun D. Francois, I, President of District Council 37, Local 372.