Class sizes at a popular Park Slope elementary school will not stretch to the limit, thanks to a reversal by the city that will allow PS 107 to eliminate a pre-K program after an influx of new kindergarten students threatened to increase class sizes throughout the building.
The Eighth Avenue school had originally notified parents on April 27 that its lone pre-K class would remain and the first- and second-grade class sizes would increase from 20 or so to 30 students — just two short of the city max.
But the Education Department quickly flip-flopped and allowed the school to excise its pre-K.
The prospect of jam-packed first and second grades stunned parents already concerned that there would be too many children and too few seats at their quaint neighborhood school.
“It would be tough on teachers, when there’s 25 kids in a first-grade class right now,” said Sohrab Habibion, who dreaded the thought of his son, Asa, entering a teeming second grade. “It’s at its most-crowded right now in terms of what’s acceptable.”
The whole kindergarten-seat saga started in November, when kindergarten enrollment ballooned, forcing the school to seek the elimination of its pre-K program.
That request was denied by the Education Department.
The crisis reached fever pitch in late March when 47 students were put on a kindergarten wait list and parents rushed to apply to nearby schools only to find it was too late.
The kinder-crisis was partially averted the school added a fifth kindergarten classroom and said it would relocate the 18-seat pre-K class.
Now that the pre-K class is gone, school administrator Pat Mannino said that the upper grades likely won’t see a capacity increase next year — “provided they don’t give it back to us again!”
Mannino said the school’s kindergarten wait list is down to about 10 or so students, but it is unclear if the wait-listed children will be admitted.
It’s also unclear where the displaced pre-K class will be located.
Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), who fought to remove the pre-K class, was pleased that the city acquiesced.
“I’m glad, but given the realities of the school and the South Slope, we can’t squash kids in the next grades,” he said. “We have to solve this problem soon for the longer term.”