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City Hall, Gov. Kathy Hochul to negotiate details of New York class size calculation: Eric Adams

Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday confirmed suspicions that City Hall is in negotiations with Gov. Kathy Hochul over a costly class-size reduction law passed by the state Legislature.

“She gave us the opportunity to keep talking and negotiating to make sure we get the right level, because we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars,” Adams said at an independent news conference in Brooklyn.

“We want to make sure we’re using our dollars properly,” he added.

The legislation, to be phased in over five years, would limit most kindergartens to 20 pupils through third grade; fourth through eighth grades for 23 students; and high school to 25 students — target class sizes originally proposed by the city’s Department of Education more than a decade ago.

Adams suggested the administration could focus its efforts on a few schools that could benefit most from having fewer students in a classroom.

“Our position is to make sure we reduce class sizes in schools that need smaller classes because it hurts academically,” he said.

The legislation has been criticized for how it might affect classes where one or two more students may want to enroll in an accelerated high school course, or in-demand programs like the technical schools, which parents said have some of the larger classrooms have in the five districts. Gifted and talented classes are also larger, on average, than general education classes, The Post reported.

Mayor Eric Adams confirmed that City Hall is working with Gov. Kathy Hochul on class size reduction legislation that has passed the Legislature.
Mayor Eric Adams confirmed that City Hall is working with Gov. Kathy Hochul on class size reduction legislation that has passed the Legislature.
Paul Martinka

Adams was optimistic about the future of the legislation – backed by the city’s powerful teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, and its premise, which is often cited as a top priority for parents.

“We want to make sure we can achieve a win-win situation,” he said. “I think we’ll make it.”

The law passed almost unanimously by lawmakers last month — and its sponsor, Senator John Liu, chairman of the New York City Committee on Education, continued to stand by it at a local school meeting in Queens on Wednesday night.

The ink is barely dry on a companion bill extending mayoral control for a short time, which Hochul signed into law last week – but Liu suggested further extensions could depend on how Adams handles a class-size mandate.

Adams said Hochul is giving his office an opportunity to negotiate to ensure that "We use our dollars properly."
Adams said Hochul is giving his office an opportunity to negotiate to ensure “we’re using our dollars wisely.”
AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

“The mayor’s control will come up again in two years,” Liu said. “So that’s going to be a factor: How is the city able to comply with court orders and state laws and effectively use the money that has been made available to it from the state budget?”

State lawmakers have repeatedly denied that the class-size bill is an unfunded mandate after the state increased its contributions to city schools — confirming an early 2000s ruling that New York students were denied a solid basic education.

Following the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, DOE officials submitted a preliminary plan with preliminary class size targets to the New York State Department of Education.

“The numbers came from — guess what — the DOE,” Liu said, identifying how much funding the city needed from the state budget. “Maybe we have some short-term memories here.”

State Senator John Liu - the sponsor of the bill - has continued to defend it.
State Senator John Liu – the sponsor of the bill – has continued to defend it.
AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Liu said Thursday he took the negotiations between Adams and Hochul “as a good sign that City Hall is finally taking this seriously, rather than saying no or disingenuously labeling it an unfunded mandate,” he told the Post.

And while he supported the administration in first reducing class sizes where instruction is suffering the most, he said the DOE could use the phase-in phase to begin planning for any overcrowded classrooms.

“I reject the notion that some schools that are doing well could continue to live with excessively large classes,” Liu said.

“Even if the kids do well overall in a grade of 35, I have no doubt they would do even better if their grades were capped at 25,” he added. “The intention is that the DOE establish a second section of this class.”

The governor’s office on Thursday did not commit to signing the bill, nor did it call for changes for the state legislature to vote on at the next session.

“Governor Hochul is committed to ensuring that every student in New York receives a quality education, and we are reviewing the legislation,” said Hazel Crampton-Hays, a spokeswoman for the governor.

https://nypost.com/2022/07/07/city-hall-gov-kathy-hochul-to-negotiate-details-of-ny-class-size-bill-eric-adams/ City Hall, Gov. Kathy Hochul to negotiate details of New York class size calculation: Eric Adams

JACLYN DIAZ

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