EDUCATION NEWS FOR AN EDUCATED PUBLIC
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While we in the State Assembly are fighting hard and have produced important results providing substantial state dollars to accelerate repairs, modernization and construction of public schools throughout the five boroughs, New York’s shortage of classroom space requires creative solutions and new thinking.
City high schools currently are operating at 112 percent capacity, with 28,721 seats short, and by 2004, it is estimated that the system will be short by close to 50,000 seats.
Even if we had all the money in the world, there would still be no way to build quickly enough the numbers of new schools necessary to provide all our students, at every grade level, with the facilities they deserve and must have to meet the new academic standards.
Consequently, as Chairman of the Education Committee, I enthusiastically support the recently announced proposal by the Board of Education’s Year-Round Education Task Force (chaired by Queens Board Member Terri Thomson) to have students enrolled in new high schools attend on a staggered schedule.
This scheduling modality would affect only those students who voluntarily choose to attend these schools. And because this new program would be in effect at new schools only, it will not disturb family schedules.
To allow maximum use of the school buildings, some students would attend school beginning and ending in different months and have vacations during months outside of traditional summer breaks. For some students, summer would be part of their regular academic year.
The Task Force has recommended that the high schools be “schools of choice” for all students, faculty, and staff. Furthermore, enrollment at the schools would be capped.
But in order to implement the Task Force’s proposal, the State Legislature must pass legislation that would provide for the City and the Board of Education to get State school aid for “regular session” school taking place in summer months.
I will reintroduce legislation in January to permit this vitally needed programming alternative for ours schools to move forward. This is one of several visionary initiatives, changing the way we think about public school, that are under development now to ensure that we see academic improvement and better conditions overall, while we plan to meet coming new challenges. #
Assemblyman Sanders is Chairman, NYS Assembly Education