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City Council Approves DOE Notification Bill, Considers Living Wage Measure
Courtney Gross

October 17, 2011
View the Original Article

The City Council approved legislation to expose classroom overcrowding on Monday, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn also moved forward a proposal to require a higher minimum wage. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

If city public school hallways are converted to classrooms, parents may not know about it. On Monday, the City Council approved legislation to try to spread the word.

The so-called "FACT act" will force the Department of Education to report how they use classroom space in city schools, as an attempt to shed light on school overcrowding.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also said the bill will give parents information like, "[D]oes a school have an art or computer class, or an art or computer room? Does the school have a gym? What about a library?"

The mayor is expected to sign the bill and DOE officials will have to start reporting in 2013. Parents will then get a glimpse at how packed these classrooms can get.

"Obviously, I believe the only place that is not being used in order to educate our children or to have some other programs is the boiler room," said Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson.

In addition to the FACT Act, Quinn also moved forward a controversial piece of legislation that has long been stalled at City Hall, which would require city subsidized developers pay a living wage.

The speaker said she would hold a hearing on the proposal next month.

The announcement does not necessarily mean Quinn, a likely mayoral candidate in 2013, will back the bill or allow it to come up for a vote.

"That public hearing, I think, will help inform everyone in the process, those that have a position and those like myself who have yet to take a position," said Quinn.

Much of the city's business community opposes the living wage, which is $10 an hour plus benefits, but city unions support it.

The bill's sponsor, Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell, still found the news encouraging.

"The climate is right and the speaker, I think, has recognized this is worthwhile to consider," said Koppell.

The bill was amended this month to carve out some industries and raise the subsidy threshold to trigger the living wage requirement.