Hochul approves amended class-size cap for city schools despite Adams’ opposition

·2 min read

ALBANY — Gov. Hochul signed off on a measure Thursday capping class sizes in the city’s public schools after lawmakers agreed to extend the deadline for implementing the new rule for one year.

The governor approved the bill over objections raised by Mayor Adams about the costs associated with limiting the number of students per classroom.

Under the new law, the number of kids in each classroom will be capped between 20 to 25 depending on the grade by 2028, a year later than the initial bill called for. Current limits allow for a max of 30 to 34 kids for most grade levels.

The measure, approved by the Democrat-led Legislature in June, was passed as part of a package of education bills that also included the extension of mayoral control of city schools for only two years after Adams petitioned for at least four.

The mayor and city school officials had pushed the governor in recent months to abandon the mandate, arguing that additional funds would be needed to carry out the class cap.

Schools Chancellor David Banks publicly backed Adams’ opposition, and the city Education Department estimated that the class-size reduction could cost $500 million a year for elementary schools alone.

Banks over the summer called the legislation a “multibillion-dollar unfunded mandate.

In a statement Thursday, Adams steered clear of any additional criticism, instead expressing approval for the delay.

“We appreciate the governor’s collaboration on this legislation since its last-minute passage last year, particularly the elongated timeline,” he said. “We look forward to working with our partners in Albany to ensure that New York’s student have what they need to succeed.”

Bill sponsor Sen. John Liu (D-Queens) applauded Hochul for approving the measure and said the mayor’s fears are unfounded since the state recently increased foundation aid and other education spending for the city.

“The city is receiving $1.6 billion more state funding annually toward this purpose, and must stop with nonsensical rhetoric claiming ‘unfunded mandate’ and just get stuff done,” Liu said.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew also heaped praise on the governor, noting that several studies have demonstrated the benefits of lower class sizes.

“For decades, New York City parents and teachers have been fighting for lower class sizes,” he said in a statement. “We now have something to celebrate.”

The teachers union is projecting that the city will have to hire an additional 2,000 teachers in each of the five years of the phase-in period in order to have enough staff to comply with the class-size mandate. Complying with the plan would cost the city roughly $200 million extra per year each of the five years, peaking at an additional billion dollars per year by full implementation, according to the union’s analysis.

With Chris Sommerfeldt