Local residents feel the Department of Education has little hope for students throughout the northwest Bronx.
With plans by the city agency to reduce 1,703 seats from their capital plan for educational institution construction in the Bronx, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition joined local students and elected leaders in presenting the DOE and the School Construction Authority with a back to school shopping list of demands.
“It’s time for the City to address the critical situation in Norwood and Bedford Park in the Bronx,” said Councilman Oliver Koppell, who has joined the NWBCCC in their fight. “We demand that the Mayor, Deputy Mayor Walcott and the Department of Education similarly muster their resources for schools like P.S. 56 that will open this fall 200% over-utilized.”
This decline in improvements is a result of what it known as ‘planning for failure,’ a concept based on the idea that 54% of enrolled high school freshman will not make it to senior year, therefore freeing up space in schools as years progress.
“In order to meet the mayor’s goal of a 70% graduation rate, we would require at least an additional 11,000 seats,” counters Ronn Jordan, VP of the NWBCCC board of directors.
The DOE and SCA receive the statistical projections and future estimates of youth population on which they base their plans from the Grier Partnership, located in Maryland.
“The numbers Grier is predicting are not true, especially within District 10, the third most overcrowded district in the city,” explains Jordan, “not to mention the new developments going up all over the Bronx.”
The Grier Partnership takes into consideration immigration, movement among ethnic groups, and population changes, leading to a calculated ‘cohort survival rate.”
The ‘cohort survival rate’ is the amount of students entering one given year that will continue on to the following year. The estimated cohort survival rate for students of the Bronx is 36%.
In order to reach the 70% graduation rate for four-year high school students, and 80% graduation rate for six-year students, the NWBCCC believes seats must be installed, because through overcrowding, students have little opportunity to succeed.
“If they actually went to the schools they would see. It’s not the number of seats it’s the quality of seats that affects the education,” said Jordan. “Kids can’t have class in trailers or principals’ offices.”
According to Jordan, local high schools have turned their specialty rooms into mediocre lesson facilities, leaving many with an inadequate learning environment, and depriving the rest of the school of physical education space, libraries, computer labs, music rooms, and science labs, amongst others.
According to DOE calculations for Capacity, Utilization and Enrollment many Bronx schools face overcrowding and overuse. Walton is 689 students over capacity, Kennedy is 507 students over and Clinton is 1,189 students over recommended capacity. All have an above 100% utilization rate.
The NWBCC not only calls for the restoration of the 1,703 seats deprived to Bronx schools, but also 2,000 seats installed at the Kingsbridge Armory, which will install possibly four new schools, and a permanent home for the Leadership Institute High School, including all necessary resources.
For more information on the educational campaign visit www.northw
©2008 Community News Group