At PS 58, there are more zoned kindergartners than seats.
Photo by Joshua Kristal
For the first time, officials at a handful of popular schools in Carroll Gardens and Park Slope are placing kindergartners on a wait-list because there are not enough seats for all the children who live in the zone. Letters regarding kindergarten placement went out this week.
PS 58 in Carroll Gardens, which has never turned away a zoned kindergartner, is running a wait list, though it is not clear how many children are on that list, and it seems the list is small, according to sources at the school. One school official said, “It’s looking good,” that all zoned kindergartners will get in over the course of the summer. But right now, there are more zoned children that have applied than there are seats.
The Carroll School, on Smith Street between Union and President, has 170 kindergarten seats (including two French immersion classes and another for kids with special needs), and has grown exponentially in recent years as it has improved its programming and academics.
Over the summer, some families move or choose private schools and placement in gifted and talented programs, opening up seats. But parents who move into the zone between now and September are not guaranteed a kindergarten seat.
The situation is grim at PS 107 on 8th Ave. in Park Slope, where 49 families who live in the school zone were notified Wednesday that their rising kindergartners are on a wait list and may not get a seat. The list has sparked outrage in the small and sought-after school zone.
“This should be a wake up call for all parents of young children in the neighborhood to contact their elected officials and work with them to find a way to create more classrooms in the area. If we don’t, we will find ourselves with huge class sizes as well as wait-listed children every year,” said Bess Hauser, who has lived in the PS 107 zone for nine years. She found out Wednesday that her son was wait-listed.
A petition is circulating by parents upset by the situation, who say they were not properly warned. The scuttlebutt is that officials from 107 will knock on doors to verify that registered children actually live in the zone. Some on Park Slope Parents’ email parenting forum have encouraged others to turn in anyone who is lying about their address.
“Many of us own our homes, some for over ten years, so we can not easily move or rent an apartment in another neighborhood as some of our friends are reluctantly doing. Nor should we have to. It is a travesty that so many families that have invested in this neighborhood and make it a wonderful place to live are in this horrible predicament,” the petition says.
PS 29, in Cobble Hill, does not have a wait list, and was able to offer seats to all zoned children who applied. The school sent out letters for 140 seats, and added a sixth kindergarten class to accommodate all the kids. With 24 kids per class, that leaves 4 open seats.
PS 29, at Henry and Kane streets, has seen kindergarten numbers fluctuate between five and six classes in recent years, said Maureen Monaco, who is in charge of pupil accounting at PS 29.
At PS 261, in Boerum Hill, the school says it is not accepting any applications for kindergarten at this point. It is unclear how many seats they have and whether they are filled (the school did not return a call or email for comment), but one could assume all seats are taken.
Another Park Slope school, PS 39, also has a wait list, but details are yet to emerge on how many children did not get in.
In recent years, three popular public schools in Manhattan on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side maxed out their kindergarten seats with zoned kids, and the problem spread to TriBeCa. Some schools eliminated their preschool programs to make room.
So far in this corner of Brooklyn, zoned children have never been denied a kindergarten seat. In Brooklyn’s District 15, only one school, PS 167 in Sunset Park, last year did not have enough seats for zoned kindergartners, and 67 children from that school were offered seats in Red Hook, at PS 32 in Carroll Gardens and elsewhere.
Citywide last year, a total of 980 families did not get into their zoned school for kindergarten, and were offered alternate school seats, according to a story in GothamSchools. The number of kindergartners who did not get into their zoned school citywide doubled from 2009 to 2010, GothamSchools reported.
The citywide and district numbers for this year are not yet known.
It is also unclear what will happen to families who move into the zones during the summer.
“We never know how many kids are going to show up on the first day of school,” Joan Bredthauer, parent coordinator at PS 58, has said.
Parents at PS 107 have been calling PS 58 and other schools to see if there is room. It’s unclear where the kids at PS 107 will end up going. The Department of Education will offer them an alternate seat in the district in coming months if the school cannot find room.
Thursday’s petition questions how PS 107 could continue to offer a public preschool program when not enough kindergarten seats are available.
“Why not consider turning the Pre-K class (at this point a luxury) into a Kindergarten class before turning away one zoned Kindergarten student? If space is an issue, classes can be held at the YMCA which has several empty rooms during weekdays,” the petition says.
Susan Fox, a parent at PS 107 and co-founder of Park Slope Parents email community, posted a long note on Park Slope Parents on Thursday after talking to school administrators at PS 107 to try to help clear up questions.
Fox said that according to her talk with school officials, the school is not required to offer a seat to zoned kids until the first grade.
The Board of Education does say it will place kindergartners within their school district.
Fox also wrote that the school told her that the Department of Education would not let PS 107 shut down its preschool program. Furthermore, if the school did increase its total number of kindergartners, it would “bulk up the total number of students and they don’t have room in the upper grades” to accommodate the bigger class sizes, Fox wrote.
“There are people who will drop off because they are lying about their address and will be caught,” Fox wrote.
Fox said the school administrator she talked to, “encourages people to come forward if they know of people lying about their address. It’s not fair to the people who ARE in zone to NOT get a spot.”
Please keep checking South Brooklyn Post for updates.
A very good article in the NY Times this time last year about wait lists, mostly in Manhattan.
More South Brooklyn Post education coverage:
The Kindergarten Crunch
New French Immersion at PS 133, soon to be located on Fourth Ave. at Bergen in Boerum Hill
A battle to save Carroll Gardens’ PS 32, and a new middle school/high school for Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill/Gowanus area
PS 58 to cut a Pre-K?
Cobbile Hill PS 29 Waitlist
4 Arrested: Cobble Hill PS29
“Save Teachers” Launches
Teacher Layoffs Loom
New Carroll Gardens G&T
New PS133 Delayed One Year
Ex-PS 29 Treasurer Indicted
PS 58, Carroll Gardens, Targeted in Teacher Cuts
To read more on kindergartners who don’t get into their zoned school in NYC: