NYC Schools

State Lawmakers Pass Bill to Cap Class Size at NYC Public Schools: What to Know

State lawmakers passed the bill by an overwhelming margin, mandating smaller classes.

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Advocates for New York City public school students are hailing the passage of the bill by the New York State Legislature that caps class sizes.

State Sen. John Liu made the case in Albany that New York City public school kids have been falling behind. In some cases, literally hiding behind other students. 

“There might be some students who like to sit in the back and not get noticed by the teachers — they’re not gonna be happy because more attention will now be paid to each and every student,” Liu (D-Queens) said.

State lawmakers passed the bill by an overwhelming margin, mandating smaller classes.

The law will now mandate caps on class size to be phased in over five years in all of the city's public schools. Assuming Gov. Kathy Hochul signs the legislation, the cap starts this fall and is fully in effect by 2027. This would translate to basically 20% of the class sizes being capped each year.

The caps from kindergarten through 3rd grade a maximum of 20 students are now allowed; 23 students per class in grades 4-8; and a maximum of 25 students per class in high school, down from 34 as it stands today.

The teachers union is celebrating the "milestone" decision.

“The Senate and Assembly class size reduction legislation marks a milestone in the years-long struggle to bring the benefits of smaller classes to the city, which has long had among the highest class sizes in the state," United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement.

Many students sound upbeat as well. 

"It’s really hard to keep the attention of a lot of students in one classroom," Netta Jimenez, a high school senior, told News 4 New York.

However, not everyone seems happy about the mandate. NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks blasted the bill as a "multibillion dollar unfunded mandate."

Banks went on to say that the district will now have to hire so many teachers, they may have to cut special education and even school nurses to pay for it.

“Make no mistake, it will lead to large cuts in these critical programs," he said.

Liu, who sponsored the bill, thinks otherwise, saying he wouldn't have voted for the mandate if they believed the city didn't have the funds to hire the teachers they need.

Liu tells News 4 New York that the money is there and that city hall shouldn’t argue otherwise. 

“An additional $1.6 billion every year starting in April...The idea the state is not funding this is nonsensical," he said.

Hochul has yet to say affirmatively that she will sign the bill, but she is expected to. However, there is some time pressure, as the fall semester is just three months away.

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