Schools in New York are becoming more congested, federal and state aid has dropped, and the number of students in “temporary housing situations,” including homeless shelters, has shot up, according to a report on the state of public education the city’s budget oversight agency issued on Tuesday.
Nearly 450,000 students were enrolled in overcrowded buildings, defined as those at greater than 102.5 percent capacity, in the 2012-13 school year, the most recent covered by the report from the agency, the Independent Budget Office. The average class size is rising, too, particularly in the lower grades: The average elementary and middle school class had 25.5 children, up from 24.6 just two years before. This was true even as the total number of students in traditional and charter schools has hovered around 1.1 million for more than a decade, and as the city has created tens of thousands of new seats.
Advocates have fought for years to get the city to use more state aid, known as Contracts for Excellence money, to reduce class sizes.
Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, an advocacy group, said the problem of overcrowding persisted for several reasons. First, she said, the city has been in the habit of placing more than one school into the same building — known as co-location — which leads to classrooms’ being converted into administrative offices or specialty spaces.
Also, she said, the number of teachers has dropped — a topic the Independent Budget Office report also touched upon. The report said the ranks of general education teachers declined by about 2,300 between 2010 and 2013, but it noted that the number of special education teachers rose by about 1,400 in the same period.
Ms. Haimson said more than 330,000 students were in classes of 30 or more last year. “That really shows how extreme the situation has become,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the Education Department said it analyzed enrollment each year to minimize overcrowding.
The report found the city has had to spend more of its own money on schools as fewer federal dollars flowed into the Education Department, even accounting for an influx of grant money from the federal Race to the Top initiative. State aid, meanwhile, has begun to rebound after years of significant declines, but it has still not reached the levels seen four years ago. Around 41 percent of the department’s roughly $20 billion operating budget comes from state funds, while about 10 percent comes from the federal government.
A spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo did not immediately address the fluctuation in the state’s contribution.
A compendium of data, the Independent Budget Office report includes facts dry and lively, including the birth countries of the city’s more than 175,000 foreign-born students (Top 5: Dominican Republic, China, Bangladesh, Jamaica and Mexico); how many live in temporary housing, such as shelters, motels, or doubled up with other families (77,000 last year, versus 66,000 in 2010); and the percentage of first graders who have left the public school system within seven years (33 percent).
“Our annual review of the data once again shows the many ways in which the New York City public school population is diverse, dynamic and complex,” said Raymond J. Domanico, the budget office’s director of education research.
Principal ranks have swelled as the city has opened 432 new schools (while closing 102), mostly small schools that replaced larger ones — among Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s signature efforts. Another priority was to identify young teachers who had leadership potential and give themmanagement training, a change that caused principals’ average time spent teaching to drop to nine years, from 14 in 2000. The schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, who believed that principals needed more experience, has required new ones to have at least seven years of teaching experience, a tougher standard than the state’s three-year minimum.
The report also found the percentage of female principals is inching up, to 68 percent last year, approaching the makeup of the teaching force, which is 76 percent female.