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An overcrowded Park Slope elementary school will relocate its pre-K program to add a fifth kindergarten classroom, clearing the way for more than half of the kids on a waiting list to be enrolled.
PS 107 will accommodate 25 of the 47 children on its waiting list by uprooting the school’s pre-K class, according to Principal Cynthia Holton. There’s no word yet on where the 18-seat pre-K section will go.
“Anything we do right now is going to be problematic,” Holton said. “Not everyone is going to be happy, but we’re doing the best we can to serve our population and let everyone have an opportunity to get in.”
The Eighth Avenue school sent out the hotly desired acceptance letters to the lucky families on April 1, placating many wait-listed parents, who had called on the Education Department to cut pre-K to make room for kindergartners.
“I thought it must be a joke, I was just so surprised,” said Arnold Barkus, whose son Alistair will now be able to attend kindergarten blocks away from his home. “I’m relieved, but the problem isn’t finished.”
Indeed, the unprecedented five kindergarten classes will become five first grade classes next year, pushing a big rat through the snake that is PS 107’s crowded 100-year-old building.
Overcrowded kindergartens are certainly nothing new in the city’s recent history, but the problem was especially acute at PS 107 and its neighbors. After finding out that they were on a waiting list, parents dashed to nearby schools to beg for seats that were already spoken for, and PS 107 staff made home visits to weed out students whose didn’t actually live in the school’s zone.
Pat Mannino, a PS 107 administrator who visited homes to boot children whose parents lied about their addresses, said it’s too soon to guarantee the rest of the wait list will be offered seats.
“We will send out letters as soon as people decline,” she said. “We’re working as quickly and as fairly as possible to alleviate parents’ panic and frustration.”
The Department of Education has said that kindergarten seats will open up as students are accepted into private schools or gifted and talented programs. Children who don’t get in to PS 107 will be offered a seat at a school as close to home as possible at the end of May.
Before PS 107 accepted 25 more children on Friday, three seats had already become available when two students were bumped after house visits and one opted for a different school.
This year was the first time PS 107 could not accommodate all the in-zone children on its wait list, which also included the son of Marc Sternberg, an Education Department deputy chancellor who manages enrollment.
Barkus said that he couldn’t get his son into 10 of the city’s pre-K programs he applied to last year, so he “spent a small fortune on pre-K.” Now he’s relieved.
“People move to Park Slope because they know their kids are going to make friends in the neighborhood,” Barkus said. “There’s a sense of community. Why should we have to leave our community to go to school? It goes against why we moved here in the first place.”
Education Department representatives will meet with parents the John Jay HS campus [237 Seventh Ave. between Fourth and Fifth streets, (212) 374-5141] on April 7 at 6 pm.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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