Class sizes rise citywide despite state aid

The city’s report on class size data surfaced quietly on Friday, revealing what many saw coming in the wake of budget cuts and teacher layoffs: an increase in class sizes, particularly in the lower grades.

Preliminary data from this fall shows that average kindergarten class sizes citywide grew from 20.7 last year to 21.7 this year. Though its schools do not have the largest classes, Brooklyn saw the largest jump from last year in class size across all grades in K-8, while Manhattan saw the greatest spike in enrollment.

The rising class sizes come against a backdrop of big investments by the state into reducing class size.

In a Powerpoint presentation created by the city’s Department of Education, officials noted that the city’s ability to lower class size in the coming years would be further compromised by upcoming budget cuts.

“Continued decline in fiscal resources will significantly reduce the capacity of schools to meet annual class size targets in the future,” the report said.

Last year, the first year that the DOE reported increasing class sizes since Mayor Bloomberg took control of the schools in 2002, average class sizes grew by fractions of a point. Kindergarten classes increased from an average of 20.6 students to 20.7. This year, the increases were substantially larger in every grade.

Executive director of Class Size Matters, Leonie Haimson, has distilled some of the data into the following chart. It shows that Queens and Staten Island have the largest average K-3 and 4-8 classes respectively.