Council Mandates Comparing Co-located Schools

NEW YORK—If several schools are co-located in one school building, comparisons of their data would have to be posted on the city’s Department of Education website by August 30. 

The City Council passed a bill to mandate the practice on Wednesday. It requires the mayor’s signature to become law.

The Department of Education is now required to post data on race, income, test performance, and special education.

All of the information already exists on the website and would only require arranging the data by school buildings, so they can be easily compared. 

More than half of the city’s 1,700 public schools are co-located, meaning they share space with at least one other school. The practice was part of the Bloomberg administration’s strategy to improve low-performing schools.

Typically, if a school failed to meet certain criteria, such as sufficiently improve its test scores a few years in a row, it would be forbidden to enroll new students and a new school would be created in the resulting free space.

The practice created frictions, as schools were learning to co-exist with one another. Most bad blood spilled over co-locations with charter schools, as some charter operators were accused of arrogance and a lack of communication.

Schools were also complaining that free space was badly calculated, resulting in art rooms, libraries, and gyms lost to co-locations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to review the practice during his campaign, saying he will help the struggling schools to get back on track, instead of closing them, and let in more community feedback on the co-location decisions.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña created two task forces, one to review how space is calculated, and the other to improve the process of co-location. Both are yet to produce any results.

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