Assembly Announces Passage of Legislation to Reduce Class Sizes and Extend Mayoral Control of the New York City School District

Speaker Carl Heastie and Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto today announced the Assembly has passed legislation to extend mayoral control of the New York City School District and provide greater parental participation and accountability in relation to the management and operation of the school district, as well as legislation to ensure the district is working towards achieving smaller class sizes.

“The Assembly Majority is committed to ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality public education, regardless of where they live,” said Speaker Heastie. “These bills will extend mayoral control of the New York City School District while offering greater parental participation in school governance and ensure that these schools are working towards reducing class sizes to make sure we are able to meet our students’ educational needs.”

“The New York City School District’s needs are as unique and diverse as its students and we have worked tirelessly to support those needs with this legislation,” said Assemblymember Benedetto. “As a former educator, I am acutely aware of how important it is to ensure that this school district’s governance includes input from all the stakeholders, and that we are taking meaningful action to reduce class sizes and offer every student the high-quality education they deserve.”

“Smaller classes are key to providing a sound basic education to our students,” said Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos, MSW. “Based on my decade of experience as a school social worker, I know that capping the size of classes in city schools will be transformative in improving academic performance for students who need it most. My legislation would ensure that the New York City School District is making meaningful progress towards that goal.”

The first of the two bills passed by the Assembly would extend mayoral control of the New York City School District for an additional two years, until June 30, 2024, while ensuring greater parental input and participation at the school level, community district level and citywide level (A.10499, Benedetto).

Under the bill, the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) would be expanded from 15 to 23 members. Of the 23 members, one would be appointed by each of the five borough presidents, another five would be appointed by the presidents of the Community Education Council (CEC) and 13 would be appointed by the mayor. Of the mayor’s 13 appointees, four must be a parent of a New York City School District student, including at least one parent of a student with an individualized education program (IEP), at least one parent of a student who is enrolled in a bilingual or English as a second language program and at least one parent of a student in a District 75 school or program. This bill would also require that a PEP member only be removed by the appointing authority for good cause and clarifies that voting against an appointing authority’s direction would not be considered cause for removal.

The second bill would ensure the New York City School District is working towards achieving smaller class sizes (A.10498, De Los Santos). Under this legislation, the chancellor together with teacher and principal unions would be required to approve a class size reduction plan with specific class size targets based on grade level that must be met for all classes by September 2027. The plan would be required to include any exemptions to the targets and would be limited to space, over enrollment of students, teacher license shortages and severe economic distress.

The New York City School District would also be required to prepare an annual report to the commissioner of education on the status of it class size reduction plan. If the commissioner finds that the plan does not sufficiently decrease class sizes, the district would be required to submit a corrective action plan to the commissioner that must be developed and approved by both the chancellor and the teacher and principal unions.

The State Fiscal Year 2007-08 Enacted Budget established the Contracts for Excellence program, which required the New York City School District and other school districts to use a certain portion of their Foundation Aid on specific program initiatives meant to improve the performance of students with the greatest educational need. Among the allowable program initiatives was class reduction. Additionally, as part of this law, New York City was required to submit a five-year plan to the commissioner of education on reducing average class sizes, as defined by the commissioner of education. This legislation would continue to ensure that New York City is working to reduce its class sizes in all grades over the next five years.