Parents, educators and advocates packed a City Council hearing demanding smaller classes in city schools, but Education Department officials say adding teachers and space to make that possible is just not going to happen.

"Do we wish class sizes were lower all across New York City? We do. Do we think we can do that with the funding that we have? We don't," Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark said.

Maximum class sizes are set by the city's contract with the teachers union. The ceilings begin at 18 students in pre-kindergarten and increase to 34 per class in high school. Average class sizes are below those limits.

"That said, we know that there are many schools across the city with class sizes that are larger than we would like," Goldmark said.

The city is working to change that by managing existing space better, creating new schools and redrawing some school zone lines, but many crowded schools are victims of their own success.

"Large class sizes are especially prevalent in schools that are in high demand by parents," Goldmark said. Goldmark says the city can't do much to bring class sizes down without more help from Albany.

"Achieving class size reduction is contingent on funding in particular from the state."

Advocates for smaller class size weren't satisfied with the Department of Education's answers.

"It was clear that this is not a priority for them,” said Leonie Haimson, founder executive director of Class Size Matters. “They haven't even captured the data on class size and they don't really intend to do anything about it."

It was often standing room only at the hearing, and public testimony from parents and teachers continued for hours after DOE officials were done.

"I think that it is tragic that in 2020 we're still talking about the same things that we were talking about 20 or 30 years ago and nothing has changed," Haimson said.

Among those praising smaller classes was Kathleen Cashin, a member of the state board of Regents who shrunk class sizes when she was a district superintendent in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

"Not only did the children respond beautifully to the reduction in class size and the closer relationship with the teachers, but the teachers responded better because they didn't have an overwhelming number of children, who have high needs because of poverty, to deal with," Cashin said.