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EXCLUSIVE: Mayor de Blasio must help 575,000 kids in overcrowded NYC public schools, pols, parents and advocates charge


Mayor Bill de Blasio in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, NYC. January 16, 2018. (Todd Maisel / New York Daily News)

About 575,000 city students are stuffed into overcrowded schools – and Mayor de Blasio must fix the situation now, parents and elected officials charge.

Nearly 100 influential educators, activists and political leaders signed a letter calling on de Blasio to create space for at least 38,500 new public school seats to address the issue in his upcoming capital plan due Nov. 1.

That's in addition to 44,000 seats in the city's current capital plan, which runs from 2015-2019. The city's next capital will run from 2020-2024.

The letter is backed by Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Robert Jackson, plus leaders of the city's Parent Advisory Council and heads of local school boards.

"Every child deserves access to a quality education and we cannot wait to act," said James of the letter sent to the Mayor on Tuesday.

Class Size Matters founder Leonie Haimson said roughly 575,000 kids attend schools that are operating above their official capacity, according to city data published in 2017.

Public Advocate Letitia James speaks on stage at World AIDS Day 2017 at Kings Theatre on December 1, 2017 in Brooklyn, NY.
Public Advocate Letitia James speaks on stage at World AIDS Day 2017 at Kings Theatre on December 1, 2017 in Brooklyn, NY. (Gary Gershoff / Getty Images for Housing Works)

The impacted youngsters represent more than half the city schools' total enrollment of 1.1 million and include more than 300,000 kids enrolled in classes of 30 or more, Haimson's analysis shows.

The overcrowding has led to excessive class sizes, the loss of arts, music and science rooms, kids not getting access to the gym and students being forced to eat lunch as early as 10 am in the morning, Haimson said.

"All of these contribute to a substandard education and deny New York City students access to educational equity and excellence that the Mayor has long promised," she added.

At a budget presentation in January 2017 de Blasio promised to fund the additional seats.

Education Department spokeswoman Isabelle Boundy said the city will add more seats as part of the next capital plan.

"We'll continue to work with communities to ensure all students have the high-quality learning environments they need to succeed," Boundy said.