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April 24, 2014
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News + Views

PS 29 Home Visits Underway

By Lisa M. Collins

PS 29 Conducts Home Visits to Verify Addresses. PS 58 Calls Some Parents Off Kindergarten Wait List.

Did you lie about where you live so your 4- or 5-year old could get into Cobble Hill’s beloved PS 29? Well, you might be getting a knock on your door from school officials looking to inspect your child’s bedroom.

There have been rumblings among the mom-Corps of moms turning in other moms who lied about addresses. Competition is so fierce to get into the school that this is the first year that teacher’s children are not guaranteed a spot.

This week, inspectors from PS 29 are visiting a handful of homes. Inspectors knock on the door, unannounced, according to a mom who was visited by the inspectors late last week. They ask to see the child’s room, and look for other evidence that the child lives at the address, the mom said.

The mom, who lives at her own mother’s home, and therefore doesn’t have the utilities in her own name, said inspectors told her they had to investigate, as parents do “crazy” things to get into the school.

Roseann Giglio, parent coordinator at the school, said she did not want to go into detail about what the inspectors are looking for. The school has held home inspections for years.

PS 29 requires parents applying with a new child to the school to produce a current electric or gas bill in the parents’ name. Other documents will do, but without the utility bill, the school will check up, Giglio said.

“It’s more an address verification, when people don’t have the proper paperwork. We need to make sure they are residing where they say they are residing.”

People can buy leases. “A lease alone isn’t going to work,” Giglio said.

Giglio said this year is not a record for home visits. As area elementary schools improve, less out-of-zone locals are banging on the doors of PS 29, which has been a high-quality school for a long time. Now parents are very happy to stay at PS 58, 261 and elsewhere.

“I don’t see much of a difference,” Giglio said of years past. “People have always done whatever they can do to get their kids into the school. “

Today, out-of-zone kids with older siblings at PS 29, who in the past were always accepted, are in a more precarious position, due to the ever-increasing number of small children living in 29′s Cobble Hill zone, and new buildings popping up.

(Side note: PS 29 did not fill its preschool with siblings this year. Spots were open for in-zone, non-siblings. Last year, 58 siblings applied for 54 seats and each seat was filled with a sibling until the day before school started, when one in-zone non-sibling was accepted.)

At PS 58 in Carroll Gardens, it’s still unclear whether the school checks up on residency. School officials were mum on the matter.

Meanwhile, a few parents on the wait list for kindergarten at PS 58 have been called and offered seats there, according to one mom who was called after she was the second person on the wait list. The mom doesn’t live in the zone.

The school is offering a record seven kindergarten classes this year, for about 175 kids. The school has doubled in size in about five years, from 400 to 800 students, and some administrators at the school have revealed stress to parents about how to fit the kids in current class space as the kindergartners get older. Traditionally, parents in New York City left as kids got older, so you’d have more kids in lower grades than higher grades. That’s still the case, but not as much, as parents are opting to stay.

I talked to one mom who lives in Tribeca and is looking for an apartment in PS 29.  Her rent in her Tribeca apartment was raised from $5,000 to $6,500, and thus, it was time to go. Tribeca has a glut of new large apartments, resulting in too many kindergartners this year for the popular zoned schools there, and some parents have been issued notice that their kids will get bused to a Chinatown elementary. Parents are irate and passing around protest flyers.

This particular mom of a two-year-old is looking for a two-bedroom garden duplex in PS 29, and is having a heck of a time. All the places are too small or not nice for the price, she said. One good place, a tw0-bedroom-plus-office upper duplex on Union near Henry, was asking $3,500 a month. One family offered to pay cash for the year up front. But yet another family got the place, the mom said.

Alex Calabretta, an agent at Prudential Douglass Elliman on Court, says that while PS 29 and PS 58 are driving an ever-hot market, it’s also a simple matter of supply and demand. Demand for a small number of available two bedrooms is high, and comes from folks looking for public schools and private, as well as from people without kids whose companies help pay the rent.

A two-bedroom garden duplex on First Place recently rented for $5,500 within a day, Calabretta said.

“They were willing to pay, because they wanted to be in PS 58,” Calabretta said. But there were others bidders on the apartment, as well, he said.

“It’s a nice place. People want to live here,” says the agent, who was born and raised on First Place but lives in Bay Ridge cause he’s got a nice big apartment.

Meanwhile, the Tribeca mom continues her search. A male friend in Cobble Hill told her, ‘Hey, you can use my address to get into the school if you need to.’”

She asked me about such a move. I recommended highly against it.

The matter of residency in-zone at the local schools is a sensitive subject to many families.

I know a mom who sold her home last year in order to rent an apartment in 58, so she’d be in zone. Others pay painfully high rents or live in apartments that are far from ideal, in order to live within the zone. To those families, cheating to get in is hard to swallow.

I for one have paid difficult rents for not ideal apartments in PS 29 because I wanted my child to be able to attend. Shouldn’t others suffer the same old, small, expensive, annoying and inefficient apartments as I have?

Related South Brooklyn Post Stories

Our local primer for parents of rising preschoolers
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
Kindergartners Wait-Listed

 

2 comments on “PS 29 Home Visits Underway

  1. This article is inaccurate. I know there were at least two kids in my son’s Pre-K class who did not have an older sibling.

  2. You are right, PS29 parent. While 58 siblings applied for 54 seats in pre-K last year, several parents declined those seats. At least two seats opened up at the start of the school year.

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