Schools big’s vow to help disabled kids
City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza vowed to make a “significant investment” in creating more accessible public schools on Wednesday after a report found that only 335 of 1,818 public schools in the city are barrierfree for students with disabilities.
The Advocates for Children analysis also revealed that one central Brooklyn school district has no fully accessible schools at all — and even schools for students with severe disabilities lack needed wheelchair ramps and elevators.
After the issue was spotlighted with a Daily News cover story, Carranza said he’d throw big bucks at the problem in the city school system’s upcoming fiveyear capital plan, which is set to be released Nov. 1.
“It’s a priority for us,” Carranza said at an unrelated event in Brooklyn. “We have a new capital plan that’s being developed — there’s going to be a significant investment.”
The Advocates for Children report found that less than one-third of schools are fully accessible in 28 of the city’s 32 school districts and, in seven districts, less than 10% of schools are completely accessible.
Even within the city’s District 75 for students with severe disabilities, only 18% of primary school sites are fully accessible, according to the report.
In Brooklyn’s District 16, which encompasses Bedford-Stuyvesant, no public schools are completely barrierfree, a situation that prevents family members and students with disabilities from accessing needed services, advocates said.
The city’s school system relies on many outdated buildings and has been criticized for failing to provide accessible facilities for years.
Mayor de Blasio added $150 million in funding to address the issue in the city budget adopted in June.
But Carranza said Wednesday that it’s not enough and he’s looking at an investment in the new capital plan as well.
“It has to be in the capital plan,” said Carranza, who noted that assessments of school buildings are already under way.
“One of the challenges we have in New York is that we have a very — I say
historic — portfolio of schools,” he added. “They’re old.”