Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is "Capacity"?

Much of the school space wars argument boils down to an argument about the definition of capacity. The DOE uses two methods to allocate space in buildings. First, the target utilization, which is calculated by the capacity of the building (this includes all floor plan space except what is determined to be shared space), divided into the current enrollment in the building. This provides a utilization percentage. Now of course this percentage is faulty because you can't provide instruction and programs in nooks and crannies, not to mention it does not take into account the fact that special education classes can only have 12 students in them so therefore those rooms could never be 'at capacity'. Herein lies the need for the DOE's instructional footprint.

The DOE Instructional Footprint allots classroom space to schools in their buildings based on varied formulas linked to city-wide average test scores, enrollment, title one or not title one (but they never specify the difference), as well as other notes (as they refer to them). What is very interesting is, the Educational Impact Statement released on December 11th and revised on December 14th regarding the extension of PAVE Academy in PS 15 beyond the two year agreement, only uses the utilization formula for its judgment. There is a section that mentions the instructional footprint, but does not discuss how it is applied and clearly, it is not.

When one spends over ten hours breaking down the instructional footprint, they would first see that this is a document designed to disenfranchise people who seek to figure it out and secondly, related to the PAVE/PS 15 issue, one would see that there is already not enough space for both schools according to the DOE's own policies, yet the EIS says there is plenty of room and there will be no negative impact. Tell that to the child receiving OT in the corner of a library under renovation while other groups are working in that same space. Tell that to the child receiving counseling who sees their family worker in a closet.

In addition to the many flaws in the determination and allocation of space, there are many spaces not allocated for in the instructional footprint such as: speech therapy, teacher/uft room, ELL room, occupational therapy, physical therapy, DOE nurse, Health Partner and Dental Partner (Lutheran Medical provides PS 15 with a nurse practitioner and dental program), adaptive physical education, testing coordinator, and math and reading coaches (and there are surely other omissions). In addition they list the library and School Based Support Team spaces as "shared space" when the libraries were created and resourced by existing schools and the SBST does not, and cannot legally, serve charter schools. It is an outrage that such phony and faulty policies are allowed to exist at the expense of our children.

The target utilization formula and the instructional footprint are a joke. They are made up documents, altered at will, and used to serve an agenda that seeks to provide billionaires and their sons free space on the public's dime. They are documents made up to propagate a small school and charter school agenda that sorts our children and privileges some, while subordinating others. They are documents that allow the DOE and their corporate friends to rob Peter to pay Paul.

New York City needs to rise up and demand true transparency, accountability, and policies that serve ALL children, not just those who choose charters or win a lottery, not just those whose founder has a daddy that gave Bloomberg over 10 mil for his school initiatives.

One of our stakeholders said today, "This thing is like peeling a rotten onion!" Indeed it is. Just when you think it couldn't get any stinkier... it does!


  1. The DOE has no idea what they are doing. The list of corruption worthy issues is so long, it is unreal. When this fight comes to a head I would not be surprised if these DOE people are jailed!

  2. i just wanted to know what capacity was?


June 4th City-Wide School-Community Based Protests: No School-Based Budget Cuts or School Layoffs

June 4th City-Wide School-Community Based Protests:  No School-Based Budget Cuts or School Layoffs
Parents, Students, and School Workers at PS 15 Demand Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein Prioritize Spending for Public Education!

Public Education in NYC has faced over 500 million in cuts since 2009. The Mayor must seek other revenues instead of cutting our schools and other important services that are the lifeblood of our communities!