The Department of Education has no plans to share information with other city agencies to help combat the illegal home conversions that contribute to school overcrowding, the agency’s head told the District 20 Community Education Council on Dec. 10.
“It’s certainly not, I don’t think, the Department of Education’s role to play in this — it would be more of Housing,” said schools chancellor Carmen Fariña.
There is a link between school overcrowding and diced-up homes, a member of the education council said.
“We have a significant overcrowding problem that’s being made significantly worse by tremendous number of illegal conversions of homes, and its a tremendous problem in the community,” said Mark Bramante.
This paper’s analysis of city data shows that the areas around the district’s most crowded schools generate the most complaints to 311 about illegal construction activity.
Residents and lawmakers have publicly called on city schools to alert the buildings department about possible illegal conversions.
“When they’ve got 12 kids listed at one address, they should be telling the Department of Buildings,” said Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Sunset Park). “I don’t think the city is taking this seriously right now.”
Fariña said she is well aware of the issue, saying even the local councilman recently buttonholed her about it.
“Vincent Gentile actually cornered me at some meeting to bring this up, so it isn’t that I’m hearing it for the first time,” she said.
But Fariña contended that a dearth of space for new buildings and the time required to construct schools are larger contributors to overcrowding, and said focusing on illegal conversions might vilify students living in the buildings.