Northeast Queens Electeds Call on DOE to Suspend Removal of Geographic Priorities for Queens High Schools

On December 3, 2021, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Senator John Liu (D-Bayside) sent a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter in response to the Department of Education’s recent decision to eliminate geographic priorities in the high school admissions process and issued the following statements:

“With many Queens high schools operating at well above 100 percent capacity, and in one case, even in excess of 200 percent, constructing new high schools at appropriate sites and increasing available seats in the borough should be a top priority,” said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein. “In addition to chronic overcrowding in the borough’s schools, Queens students are faced with a unique lack of transportation options, especially in the eastern portion of the borough. We urge the DOE to suspend the elimination of geographic priorities in Queens until the City can sufficiently alleviate the existing overcrowding in the borough’s high schools.”

"Ending geographic priority at the 11th hour injects chaos and uncertainty into an already complicated high school application process,” said Senator John Liu, chairperson of Senate Committee on NYC Education. “Queens is in desperate need of both more high school seats and transportation options, and this last minute change sends our kids outside the borough without the public transportation to get them there. We must keep geographic priority indefinitely, lest we leave yet another mess for the incoming administration to clean up."

The following is the text of Assemblyman Braunstein and Senator Liu’s letter to the NYC Schools Chancellor: 

December 3, 2021

Ms. Meisha Porter, Chancellor
New York City Department of Education
Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Re: Geographic Priority for Queens High School Admissions

Dear Chancellor Porter:

We are writing regarding the Department of Education’s decision to eliminate geographic priorities in the high school admissions process, effective this coming admissions cycle. 

As you are aware, Queens high schools are the most crowded schools in the City of New York, currently exceeding capacity by nearly 9,000 seats. In Northeast Queens, Bayside High School is operating at 134%, and Benjamin N. Cardozo High School at 141%, according to data released by the DOE in the 2019-2020 School Year Enrollment, Capacity & Utilization Report. While the recent addition of an annex at Cardozo did alleviate some of the overcrowding, more needs to be done to increase seat capacity in Queens. This includes the construction of new school buildings at appropriate sites throughout the borough in order to best serve Queens families.

In addition to the shortage of high school seats in the borough, limited transportation options remain an issue in Queens. In the eastern portion of the borough, there is no subway access, and city buses provide lengthy commute times and often unreliable service. With over 12,000 Queens high school students already commuting to other boroughs for school, many Queens high school students report commute times of upwards of two to three hours. Longer commutes impact a student’s ability to participate in sports, clubs, internships and other extracurricular activities that are important to their social development and career planning.

The Queens High School Presidents’ Council and Community Education Council of District 26 (CEC26) recently submitted formal opposition to the decision to eliminate all forms of geographic priority from the high school admission process, citing many of the same concerns. All Queens families should have the option to enroll their child in a school close to home. 

With these factors in mind, it is clear that this change disproportionately impacts Queens students, who are already confronted with overcrowded local schools and longer commute times. Therefore, we urge the Department of Education to reconsider their decision to eliminate geographic priority for students in the borough of Queens. We thank you for your attention to this important issue.


Edward C. Braunstein
Member of Assembly
John C. Liu
Member of Senate