School age children must be provided with the tools to lead active, healthy and physically fit lifestyles. Concerned
with the rising number of children who are obese and overweight, Assembly Oversight, Analysis and Investigation
Committee Chairman Jeff Klein conducted an extensive investigation of NYC school playgrounds. His report,
No Room In The Playground, revealed inadequate outdoor recreation space
available to New York City’s elementary school children and a failure by State and City agencies to consider
outside playground space as a priority measure.
Assemblyman Klein found that schools too often install Temporary Classroom Units (TCU’s) onto playgrounds to
ease overcrowded classrooms. These "temporary" units remain in place as long as eight years,
eliminating crucial outdoor playground space for recreational activities. Though a 1947 law requires that
"It shall be unlawful for a schoolhouse to be constructed in the City of New York without an
open-air playground …", City and State Education Departments fail to adequately consider the
implications of lost playground space when TCU’s are put on their grounds.
"No Room in the Playground"
Klein Report Finds State and City Education officials must do more to ensure school students have
adequate outdoor playground space
Click here to view report.
Among the report’s findings, Chairman Klein found:
Over 200 portable classrooms are located on school grounds, to meet overcrowded classroom conditions.
These classrooms often take up a school’s entire playground area.
The State Education Department (SED) fails to monitor the adequacy of outdoor playground space in NYC public
schools. It fails to review site plans and specifications pertaining to construction of NYC school buildings,
additions and renovation of school buildings, including installation of Temporary Classroom Units (TCU)
installed on available outdoor playground space.
NYC provides a standard for outdoor playground space, but it does not effectively monitor schools’ compliance
with its standard. The City fails to collect and maintain square footage data to effectively calculate if a school
meets its own requirements and State law.
In releasing his report Chairman Klein said "Our kids need to be outside and moving, in order to
experience healthy play and exercise. These are important life lessons and our schools must be equipped with
the facilities to ensure these lessons can be taught."
The Committee Report recommended that:
SED use its current authority to receive, review, and approve all necessary plans and specifications governing
renovations, additions and building construction in NYC schools, including the installation of Temporary
Classroom Units on outdoor playground sites.
NYC Department of Education maintain current data on school facilities, to allow for its assessment of
available outdoor recreational playground space.
Each site with TCUs should be annually reviewed, ensuring long term solutions to address both overcrowded
classroom conditions and outdoor recreation space to meet physical education curriculum requirements.
NYC school officials must expand the effective Joint Operating Playgrounds program with the Parks Department,
to provide more park facilities to schools suffering from insufficient outdoor playground space.
Assemblyman Klein will be introducing legislation to ensure alternative outdoor space is provided when
school playgrounds are used for purposes other than play, like portable classrooms or parking lots.