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'Class Size Matters'; Parents, Teachers Urge NYC Council To Pass Bill Lowering Classroom Capacity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Parents and teachers are getting impatient as they wait for a classroom capacity bill to become law.

As CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported Thursday, the bill was introduced by New York City Councilmembers months ago to improve the student-teacher ratio.

"It's an opportunity for kids to reach their fullest potential," said Ann Van Busker.

Class size matters. That's the message from parents and teachers at PS 89. They handed out flyer and collected signatures on a petition.

"COVID was such a difficult time for students and teachers and, many kids really fell behind," said Van Busker. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if an outcome of COVID would be that smaller class sizes permanently for our children."

"I like having smaller classes because I really like to get to know my teachers a lot and they get to know me," said Maura, a 4th grader.

The teachers union said New York City classrooms have 30% more students than the rest of the state.

Laws currently cap classrooms at 34 students. This bill would amend it to 25 students depending on a number of factors, like the room's square footage. It would be phased in over five years.

"Smaller class sizes will mean more individualized and differentiated support for our most vulnerable students," said Carmen Romero, a 5th grade teacher.

The plan would require up to 11,000 new teachers, more class space and cost $1.1 billion.

Critics worry the cost is too great, but the president of the United Federation of Teachers said there is enough space.

"We don't want to cause the city to have a financial issue over this. So this is why we've been very careful about moving the timeline to five years," said Michael Mulgrew. "We are getting the funding from Albany that we fought for over two decades for."

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson co-sponsored the bill at the end of July, but it hasn't been put up for a vote yet.

"Putting pressure on our elected officials, especially Corey Johnson, to make sure that they pass this," said Councilmember-elect Christopher Marte.

"There's always concern before a bill passes, whether or not it will pass, but we have 40 out of 51 councilmembers that are on this bill, so we feel very strongly," said Jennifer Rogers, a teacher.

There are only two more council sessions to get this passed before the end of the year. These parents said it's imperative to pass it before a new councilmembers are sworn in next month.

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