State Reduces Aid to Capital Plan by 48%, Forcing Delay of 17,000 New School Seats
The Department of Education today released a proposed amendment to the Fiscal Year 2010 - 2014 Five-Year Capital Plan that proposes funding for just 14,573 new school seats. The Department’s current plan calls for 30,377 new school seats citywide, but the State’s 48% cut to building aid on new capital projects has forced the removal of construction funding for 17,000 new school seats from the plan.
“We have seen historic and unprecedented levels of school construction under this Administration, with more than 100,000 new seats already created since 2003,” said Schools Chancellor Cathleen Black. “But Albany’s proposed cuts to our school construction efforts will mean more overcrowding, fewer new buildings and deteriorating conditions at our existing buildings. We understand the need to invest wisely during these tough budget times, but the State’s decision to cut back on school construction aid means that we will not be able to keep up with the projected demand across the city.”
In proposing to reduce its capital funding for New York City, the State is abandoning its commitment, made during the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, to pay for half of the City’s school construction projects. Given the current financial outlook, the City is reducing its overall commitment in the proposed amendment by 6%. But in order to ensure that school construction projects move forward in the areas that have the most need, the City has actually increased its relative share of capital plan funding from 50% to 63%.
Chancellor Black added, “If the State just matched the City’s 6% cut, rather than reducing aid by 48%, we could build another 11,000 school seats.”
Over the past two months, the Department of Education has met with Community Education Councils, Community Boards, City Council Borough Delegations and other elected officials to review the proposed November amendment and solicit feedback. The new February amendment will be reviewed and voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy in March. It will then be forwarded to the City Council for review and approval as part of the City's annual budget adoption process.
Over the last seven years, the City has improved construction efficiency and implemented a comprehensive capital planning process that ensures school construction keeps pace with student demand. Through these efforts, more than 100,000 school seats have been constructed since 2003, including 24,995 in the Bronx, 24,463 in Brooklyn, 12,987 in Manhattan, 32,524 in Queens, and 5,619 in Staten Island. Confirmed building aid from the State for prior capital projects is unaffected.
The School Construction Authority manages new school construction and renovation of the City's existing school buildings for the Department of Education. This past September, the City opened over 17,500 new seats citywide, the most in a single year since the creation of the School Construction Authority and largely funded through the $13.1 billion school capital plan of 2005-09. Funded equally by the City and State, it is the largest school construction effort in New York City history.