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UFT Survey: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Kids In Overcrowded Classrooms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A teachers union survey found that nearly one in four New York City public school students - more than 230,000 kids - is in a crowded classroom.

UFT president Michael Mulgrew said Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens tops the list with 385 overcrowded classes. In all, the survey found 6,313 overcrowded classes, 180 more than last year.

"What we are asking them, for once, before they leave office: do the right thing, reduce the class sizes right now, do not make hundreds of thousands of children wait all the way through next spring to reduce the class size," Mulgrew said.

As CBS 2's Andrea Grymes reported, some classes at Cardozo have a few extra students, while others have up to 15 more students than the cap.

"It's terrible because there's too many kids," Cardozo High School senior Christina Frias told Grymes.

"They stand in the back of the room, they sit on the windowsill. We have kids literally standing in the doorway," Cardozo teacher Dino Sferrazza told Grymes.

UFT Survey: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Kids In Overcrowded Classrooms

Mulgrew said the union files grievances over crowded classrooms. But they said this year, it was May before the last ones were resolved.

"This is completely unacceptable. There is no reason for this," Mulgrew said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg admits city schools are in high demand but said that's because they're doing so well.

"It's a problem that is a very serious problem but it's a nice problem to have, that kids want to go to our schools," said the mayor on Thursday.

He said they've added about 120,000 seats.

"No administration has raised teacher salaries or invested as much in building classrooms as we have. Any place in the country, maybe any place in the world," Bloomberg said.

According to the UFT contract, class sizes are limited accordingly:

  • Pre-Kindergarten: 18 students with a teacher and a paraprofessional;
  • Kindergarten: 25 students;
  • Grades 1-6 (in elementary schools): 32 students;
  • JHS/MS: 33 students in non-Title I schools; 30 in Title I schools;
  • High school: 34 students; 50 in physical education/gym.

The New York City Department of Education responded, saying the union has inaccurate information.

"Each year, the UFT stages this event, using the wrong numbers and sweeping, erroneous conclusions. Our formula - new construction coupled with co-locations - has worked," the DOE said in a statement.

The teachers union said  some schools do need more teachers, but the overcrowding issue is more about distributing students evenly across schools in the city.

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