Sunday, February 4, 2007

Bloomberg Builds Stadiums, Not Schools

from Leonie Haimson listserve

We have plenty of resources to do the job in NYC. We are not living in Afghanistan but in the richest city in the world.

We would have solved this problem long ago if the business elite sent their kids to public schools rather than sitting in box seats in Yankee stadium.

While saying there’s no room, the city is still selling off a perfectly good school building that could house 1,000 high school students for $1 in Harlem. Numerous buildings on Governor’s island that could house thousands more are sitting empty. Shea stadium is being rebuilt in its parking lot with the help of millions of dollars of city subsidies; a high school could have easily gone into that lot years ago in one of the most overcrowded areas of the city if anyone with power had pushed for this.

Few parochial schools have been leased by DOE. Meanwhile the city has a $4-5 billion surplus, like last year, and only a small percentage of these funds could leverage double the no. of schools and new seats to be created over the next four years.

See this chart: how many seats created over the last four years:

See this: twice as many seats to be created in sports stadiums than in schools over next four years:

See also from the OMB financial plan at

p. 57.

The chart shows city spending on capital needs for schools is now and projected to be a much smaller level for the next four years than we spent during the last year of Giuliani administration, despite a higher reimbursement rate from the state (now over 50% compared to only 30% then) and a $4 billion city surplus.

Also since the year 2000, a much smaller overall percentage of the city’s capital spending overall has gone into schools – even though in 1998, the city comptroller said that this was the neediest and most underinvested portion of the city’s infrastructure.

To reduce class size in all grades, we need at least 120,000 new seats to do the job while creating only about 63,000 – with 3,000 seats actually cut from the new capital plan.

Don’t tell me it’s impossible – all it takes is cash and commitment. LA is planning to create 180,000 new seats and has only 2/3 of our enrollment and no billion dollar budget surpluses.

See also the same OMB document, p. 9 for the amount of Wall St. bonuses in the past year alone -- $25 billion.

A simple calculation on the Bloomberg mortgage calculator shows that to fund another $4 billion to double the number of seats created over the next four years – which would be sufficient to reduce class sizes in all grades, we would need to add only $288 million in annual city spending -- less than 1/3 the amount that Bloomberg now wants to cut taxes by for next year.

The sad fact is that our kids are getting shortchanged because we are stuck with an administration that doesn’t give a damn – and too many others are letting them off the hook by wrongly assuming that the situation as somehow unchangeable and outside of anyone’s ability to challenge.

Given that the state now reimburses more than 50% of everything we spend on new school construction, in order to create about 120,000 new seats over the next four years, enough to eliminate overcrowding and reduce class size in every part of the city, this would only cost about $144 million in additional city funds – only about 1/7 the amount that Bloomberg proposes to cuts taxes by next year.

If anyone still thinks we don’t have the resources to do this, explain why.

Leonie Haimson

Class Size Matters

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  1. That's an unbelievable comparison.

    I'm speechless. That almost never happens.

  2. My first reaction is unbelievable, but sadly it is very believable. Very sad indeed.

  3. Note how the information is coming from an activist parent and not the UFT, which with all its resources should be hammering Bloomberg. Need I remind you that Weingarten supported the Jets Stadium deal until it began to fall apart.


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