Bronx BP Releases Report Calling for School Construction Authority Reform

Bronx Borough President Rubin Diaz Jr.’s Proposed Changes to the School Construction Authority aim to address overcrowding and other issues. Image Credit: Bronx Borough President’s Office

Report outlines action plan for the School Construction Authority to address public school overcrowding and cost proposals. On September 4, 2019, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released a report outlining an action plan for the School Construction Agency to address public school overcrowding and school construction cost proposals. The School Construction Authority is charged with the building and maintenance of public school space in New York City.

President Diaz’s report, titled “Reforming the School Construction Authority: An Action Plan for Efficient Use of Public School Space,” outlines measures the School Construction Authority can take to improve school overcrowding conditions, build new schools faster and better utilize existing space.

President Diaz’ number one recommendation within the report directs the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education to “. . . eliminate all Transportable Classroom Units as soon as possible.” The report notes that forcing students to learn in trailers harms their education and is unacceptable. The report continues, “If there is a single TCU remaining at the end of this five-year capital plan, there must be real consequences for leaders at the [Department of Education] and [the School Construction Authority].”

The report further advocates for reform of school overcrowding considerations in the development process. The report notes that when a proposed redevelopment project that includes new housing units proceeds through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the impact on public schools from the increased number of potential school children in the area must be made more explicit. The report calls for the City Charter to be amended to include the study of public school enrollment as an explicit part of any rezoning through ULURP.

The report also demands the Department of Education survey schools to determine where to locate new gifted and talented programs in every district across the city, especially in currently underserved districts.

Furthermore, the report requests the School Construction Authority, which uses four brokers to identify potential sites for new school construction, to include a study of available and potentially necessary school space as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) that occurs during a rezoning. The report also calls for the SCA to undergo a private Request for Proposal (RFP) pilot program in order to better execute the construction of new public school buildings.

On releasing the report, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. noted, “The first step towards providing a high-level education to the children of New York City is to ensure that they are learning in appropriate spaces. In many ways, the School Construction Authority can be an impediment to the success of our public school students. This report outlines a plan to address . . . habitual problems that face the [School Construction Authority] and force our educators and students to so often teach and learn in inappropriate, overcrowded spaces.”

The full report may be found here.

By: Abby Cannon (Abby is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2020.)



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