Queens High Schools Still Crowded

Monday, October 25, 2010

Queens is always growing and it seems its schools are, too. The United Federation of Teachers says several high schools in the city's second most populous borough seem more crowded than usual this fall.

James Vasquez, the UFT's representative for Queens high schools, says principals are working hard to keep classes from getting too large by reprogramming schedules and adding more teachers. But he says Bayside, Benjamin Cardozo and the new Metropolitan High School are all still crammed with students.

"You have situations in which not only the hallways are crowded but the days are extended," he says. "Because kids are staying later or coming in earlier than they may have before."

The Department of Education confirms that Metropolitan High School, which opened in September, currently has 411 students -- 61 more than the target. Benjamin Cardozo in Flushing has about 40 more kids than expected.

Vasquez attributes the problem to poor planning and says the city should send more students to under-utilized schools. But a Department of Education spokesman says it's too early to make any determinations on class size or enrollment because they're still fluctuating daily. The state gathers final enrollment data on October 31.

Crowded schools don't always correspond with overcrowded classrooms, and vice-versa. Many schools in Queens and throughout the city still have class sizes that are above the contractual limit of 34 in high school subjects and 50 for gym. Vasquez says the Queens High School of Teaching was especially hard hit with dozens of classes above the limit. In early September, the union estimated that 1900 high school classes in Queens were above contractual limits. But that number has since been cut down by more than half. As in previous years, the city resolves many of the disputes just before or during arbitration hearings.

Meanwhile, the union says the situation at Francis Lewis High School - which has more than 4000 students - seems under control. The city and the union went to arbitration hearings over the past few years because of overcrowding. Though it's still packed, the union says no classes are beyond their contractual limits.


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Comments [4]

Benjamin from Queens Village, N.Y.

I was concerned about being placed in Special Education classes but my mother should've put me in an afterschool program. The programs that Metropolitan High School give me in special Ed. classes, they're not enough. I have 8 more months to go. I'm going to the prom and I'm getting ready to graduate. In late June, I'm gonna be free, then I'm gonna get a job so I can start working.

Oct. 31 2010 04:53 PM
Isabella from Flushing, New York

Francis Lewis HS is extremely overcrowded and has been for a long time.

Why is the DOE allowed to place our children in harm's way when such overcrowding could only mean disaster if, God forbid, the student's had to leave in a rush. My own children went there under those conditions and I was worried sick about the huge number of kids in the building. No one's child should be subjected to that kind of disrespect.
Back in the days when I attended that institution, the hallways bustled - not burst open at the seams!

Oct. 27 2010 07:41 PM
Arthur Goldsten

If the union says Francis Lewis is "under control" that's only because they haven't bothered to consult with anyone who actually works there. Lewis is open 14 periods a day, six sessions, and has classes in trailers with chronically failing heat and AC and half-classrooms that are absolutely unfit for teaching and learning. Our students run around outside in the cold and the dark, and eat lunch at 9 AM.

During peak times, you can barely make it down the hall. 61 more than the target? At Lewis we've been thousands above the target, and for years.

Hardly a "Mission Accomplished" moment by me.

Arthur Goldstein, UFT Chapter Leader
Francis Lewis High School

Oct. 26 2010 06:15 PM
Dick Hughes from Vancouver, Canada

Hi Beth
I am a thinking skills trainer with 18 years experience. We have known, for years, why some children don't learn to read. Brain training as an industry has been around for over 40 years and we have answers to a lot of questions that plague parents with learning impaired children. This is too large an issue to cover in this little text box but if you reply with an email address, I will give you more detailed answers.

Oct. 26 2010 11:55 AM

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