PS 58 may cut a preschool class to make room for kindergartners
Photo by Joshua Kristal
My sources at PS 58 (in the brilliant and savvy Mom Corps.) are reporting that a preschool class is getting cut this year to make room for a ballooning kindergarten population at The Carroll School, PS 58, at Smith and Carroll. The school’s overall population has doubled in five years, and it currently has more zoned kindergartners who’ve applied for 2011/2012 than seats.
One of the preschool teachers is retiring, and the scuttlebutt is that the school will not replace that teacher, reducing the preK classes from four to three next year. PS 58’s principal, Giselle McGee, would have to get approval from the Department of Education to reduce 58’s preK seats.
This year, the school has 6 kindergarten classes, and the word is that it may have 7 kindergarten classes next year.
Officials at PS 58 said they couldn’t confirm or deny that the school is cutting a preschool class (18 seats in each class). The move is not certain, nor official, according to the administrator I spoke with. But the Mom Corps. is vast not only in beauty, but knowledge.
As reported in South Brooklyn Post, this Spring, there are more rising kindergartners in the PS 58 zone than the school has seats. The school is running a wait list for zoned kindergartners who applied late, or who apply this summer. The same is the case at Cobble Hill’s PS 29 on Henry and Kane streets. There are not many families on either wait list. Officials were hesitant (for some reason?) to say how many parents are on the kindergarten waiting list, but confirmed it does exist.
Two of PS 58’s kindergarten classes are French immersion and have a special application process.
As more families move to our slice of urban paradise, and stay after having multiple children, the free, full-time preschool seats for four year olds at the local public elementary schools are getting harder and harder to come by.
PS 58 had about 400 students five years ago. Today, it has about 800.
PS 29 has about 630 children.
Elementary schools are required to provide seats for children who live in the zone for grades 1 and up. There is no state or city requirement for preschool. The state does not require kindergarten, either, but the city has long had a policy of finding seats for kindergartners if there is no room in the zoned school, said Emily Freund, parent coordinator at Cobble Hill’s PS 29, at Henry and Kane streets.
Preschool seat are given to siblings first (last year, all of PS 29’s 54 pre-K seats went to siblings). Many public elementary schools in Manhattan don’t have preschools. Others are hard to get into. At a popular Upper East Side elementary, the wait list for a pre-K seat is about 100 children a year.
The news is sending shudders through our local community, as parents worry that preschool will get eliminated or greatly reduced in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill because of the growing number of children here.
Popular public preschool programs run a lottery. Both PS 58, PS 29, and now, PS 261, in Boerum Hill, get far more applications for preschool than they have seats. Younger siblings get priority. Kids who don’t get in often end up in preschools at PS 38, in Boerum Hill, and PS 32, in Carroll Gardens—both excellent programs by all accounts (my child goes to 32 and we love it).
The same is the case for PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights (which also takes kids from Dumbo). Preschool seats are limited and doled out through lottery. So far, kindergarten seats there have not been a problem.
“There’s no official word on preschool,” said the PS 58 administrator I talked to. “Anything could happen.”
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