News & Culture in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Points Nearby
March 3, 2021
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Wait List for Local Kindergarten

By Lisa M. Collins

For the second year in a row, P.S. 58 Elementary School, the Carroll School, has a wait list for kindergartners, as the number of young children in the school zone continues to rise. Cobble Hill’s P.S. 29 will likely end up with one as well, as the number of zoned applicants for kindergarten exceeds the number of seats at the school by about 20.

So far, the 54 preschool seats at each school are safe and sound, school officials say. Those seats go almost entirely to zoned younger siblings of kids at the school, though a few seats usually are open for zoned kids who are not siblings, school admittance officials told South Brooklyn Post.

P.S. 58 received about 10 more applications from zoned families looking for kindergarten seats this fall then they have seats, said an official at the school, and those families were put on a wait list. That number is slightly higher than the wait list for last year.

Last year, as families moved out of the area, or chose private school or gifted & talented programs, all zoned kids were placed by September, the school official told South Brooklyn Post. This year, it is hoped the same will be the case. The school has never turned away a zoned kindergartner who’s family wanted the seat, though “there are no guarantees,” the official said.

PS 58 has seven kindergarten classrooms of about 25 children each. Last summer, the school eliminated a pre-K class (taking the number of pre-K classes from four to three) to make room for an additional kindergarten class.

Anyone who registers for kindergarten at PS 58 from now through the summer will be placed on the wait list, and the list is a bit larger this year than last.

“In all previous years, we’ve eventually been able to offer a seat to all families in the zone. The hope is that this year will look like all those other years,” said the PS 58 official I spoke with.

P.S. 29 received about 20 more applications from zoned families looking for kindergarten seats than seats they have now—with 24 kids in six classes, the school has about 144 kindergarten seats. But officials from that school said that every year, parents opt for private school or G & T, so it is hoped and expected that there will be room for all the children.

With the ballooning population of kindergartners in recent years, parents have voiced concerns that pre-school seats could be eliminated to make room for kindergarten. Last year, P.S. 58 did eliminate one pre-K classroom to make room for an additional kindergarten classroom. Cobble Hill’s P.S. 29, a smaller school by population, with more space, has 3 pre-Ks and six kindergarten classes; while P.S. 58 has 3 pre-Ks and seven kindergarten classes.

At P.S. 261 in Boerum Hill, the kindergarten classes have room for all zoned kids and unzoned siblings, with a couple of spots open for un-zoned, non-sibling kids. But the school is very popular, so odds decrease every year that un-zoned kids without siblings at the school can get in, said Jerry Piper, parent coordinator at the school.

Once a child is accepted into kindergarten at a NYC public elementary, they can remain at the school until the 5th grade, regardless of where the parent lives. Schools are required to give seats to kids who live in the zone beginning in 1st Grade.

Free, public pre-school is not a requirement of the state, so schools do not have to provide it. But officials at both 29 and 58 said the pre-K programs are safe.

Parents in lower Manhattan are not so lucky—according to DNA, a news website, 100 rising kindergarten children at popular schools downtown were wait-listed last month, including 38 at a popular elementary in TriBeCa and 26 each at two Battery Park City schools.

Parents there are irate, and have demanded that the DOE eliminate pre-K at those schools to make room for kindergarteners. At a meeting last week, the DOE said it is considering eliminating pre-K at schools with big kindergarten wait lists.

But officials here say we are nowhere close to that. The schools are carefully guarding their pre-K programs.

“We wouldn’t get rid of our pre-K,” said Piper, parent coordinator at PS 261.  Still, “applications are trending upward, with more and more zoned kids, and fewer out of zone spots available. Each year I’m cautious.”

The Boerum Hill school is in an awkward situation, Piper said, because it’s in District 15, but sits on the edge of District 13. The school must give priority to kids in its district.

“So folks can come from as far as Sunset Park, before kids that live four or five blocks away,” Piper said. “Some are not crazy about the options they have in District 13 (Ft. Greene and surrounding area), and it’s hard to have to turn them away.”

P.S. 38 in Boerum Hill, and P.S. 32 in Carroll Gardens, as well as P.S. 15 in Red Hook, each have excellent preschool and kindergarten programs, and P.S. 32 now offers a gifted and talented program for K to 5.

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