TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the education law, in relation to
directing the chancellor of a city school district in a city having a
population of one million or more
to inventory and report upon the outdoor schoolyards
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Requires the Chancellor of the New York City School District to
compile an inventory of the outdoor schoolyards in such school
district and to prepare a report on Certain aspects of the condition
and Use of such playgrounds.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1: Adds a new Education Law section 2556(14) to require the
Chancellor of the New York city School District to prepare an
inventory and report on the following items related to school
district outdoor playgrounds:
- identify each and every outdoor schoolyard located at or associated
with schools, their location, approximate size, and physical condition.
- identify which schoolyards are in fact utilized as outdoor
schoolyards, the activities conducted, and any limitations on their
use as a playground.
- identify areas, while designated or in the past used as schoolyards,
that are now not used for physical education, activity or recreation.
For example, Some playgrounds have been Used for the placement of
Temporary Classroom Units (TCU) on a more or less permanent basis.
This situation has lead to less playground space being left available
to be used for physical activity.
- a description of whether each playground is used during the school
day and after school by students and the general public.
- a description of the capital plans for the construction, placement,
renovation, or reconfiguration of such playgrounds, and any plan to
increase or decrease the availability and utilization of such places.
- any other facts, information, or recommendations which the
Chancellor deems necessary to improve outdoor schoolyards. Such
improvements should help to enhance the physical education, physical
and mental fitness, and well-being of its students.
Provides for a definition of schoolyards to include all outdoor space
used by students for physical education, physical activity, and/or
A report of the Chancellor's inventory, findings, and recommendations
is to be completed by December 31, 2011. Such report is to be
submitted to the Governor, the State Legislature, and the state
Section 2: Amend Education Law section 2590-h (Powers and duties of
the Chancellor) to include the duty to prepare the Report outlined in
section 1 of this bill.
It is of the utmost importance to the proper development of a child to
engage in unstructured play and to have the opportunity for physical
education. Such activities can help children to better learn and
absorb knowledge throughout the rest of the school day and increase
their physical and mental fitness. When children are able to run,
hop, skip, and jump around with other kids, they learn important
social and emotional skills like empathy, working with others, and
complex behaviors like planning and sequencing.
Unfortunately, many children in New York City have little space to
play in an outdoor setting. Too many neighborhoods lack adequate
playgrounds to serve all children, and many kids live beyond the safe
walking distance to parks. That is why outdoor playgrounds at schools
are so essential.
For many kids, the school day and school facilities are one of the
only opportunities that they have to engage in some fresh air outdoor
physical activity. More than just a chance to run around, outdoor
play at school has been shown to result in higher reading scores and
reduce the high incidence of obesity that exists among many of New
York city's youth.
For these reasons, Senator Klein issued a report in 2003 on outdoor
playground space at schools. This study found that the New York city
Department of Education did not aggressively track the adequacy and
size of outdoor playgrounds. Further, many schools lacked sufficient
play space, in part because Temporary Classroom Units (TCSs) had been
placed on school yard space for years and, in some cases, more than a
Senator Klein issued a second Report in 2008 on the issue of outdoor
playground space. Further, Senator Klein has tried to encourage the
NYC Department of Education to measure the adequacy of outdoor play
Senator Klein's staff surveyed over 100 elementary school principals
and asked them about their access to fundamental outdoor play space
options-schoolyards, playgrounds, a nearby park, athletic fields or a
track. Many surveyed schools did not have these outdoor playground
options. Many elementary schools lacked multiple options and some did
not have any at all. Schools reported that for the outdoor play space
options they had, nearly half the time they were insufficient to
serve the needs of all the children. There were also complaints about
the condition of outdoor play space.
One of the key factors diminishing outdoor play space is TCUS. These
supposedly temporary classroom units usually sit on schoolyards,
occupying outdoor play space. This report revealed that 24 percent
of randomly surveyed elementary schools have TCITs. Additionally, 94
percent of elementary schools that had TCUs 5 years ago, still have
them today. Clearly, the DOE is not on schedule in its attempt to
phase down the utilization of TCUB. This is troubling, as school
principals were critical of TCUB citing problems with mice, plumbing,
heating, ventilation, and students not feeling part of the school.
The Report required under this bill should help the State and New York
city to do a better jab in assessing New York City's compliance with
state law and monitor efforts to close the existing inequities
between schools with regard to outdoor play space.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2008: S.8600 - Referred to Rules
2010: Similar to S.2485-A (Passed Senate, but vetoed)
Similar to Chapter Amendment S.2485-A (S.8409)
The same as S.8344, which is a combination of S.2485-A and its
Chapter Amendment S.8409.
None to the state.
This act shall take effect immediately, with provisions.