City Councilman Daniel Dromm on crowded school

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Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has been working to brand the county as a place that welcomes families, but the school system seems to be struggling to keep up.

School Districts 24, 25 and 26 in northeast Queens have long been among the most crowded districts in the city. And other schools in the borough are so lacking in space that they use trailers as classrooms. Trailers were initially introduced as a temporary classroom, but many have been used for decades – far longer than their five-year shelf life, according to New York City Council Education Committee Chairman Daniel Dromm.

“Many of them now are in very, very bad condition and the walls are warped, they’re leaking, etc.,” Dromm said. “They’re making some progress in some of the areas, but there are still many schools that have trailers.”

Dromm said the de Blasio administration had made some progress since announcing plans early in the mayor’s tenure to move students out of the trailers. But about 260 trailers still serve as classrooms, according to a City Council Education Committee report.

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The administration has also made strides by revising the formula for calculating how many school seats are needed and being forthcoming about the total seats needed, Dromm said. So far the city has allocated funding for enough new classrooms to teach 44,000 more students, the councilman said, but it would cost another $4 billion to secure the remaining 83,000 needed seats.

Since the City Council has limited legislative power over education matters, Dromm said he has continuously called for more seats during committee hearings and in budget negotiations. And now that the administration is looking to change zoning rules so larger residential buildings may be constructed in several communities, Dromm said he has vowed to only vote for such rezonings if they come with plans to add more school space.

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