Kinder crisis! No room for new kids at Slope schools

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s an all-out war for the most sought-after commodity in baby-filled Park Slope — a kindergarten seat.

Park Slope parents panicked last week when the city put 47 kindergarten-aged kids on the waiting list at PS 107 — and gave no information about where the rejected students would be enrolled in September.

Meanwhile, the staff of the Eighth Avenue school is making unannounced house visits to weed out kids whose parents lied about their address.

“I know it’s terrible, but what are you going to do?” said Pat Mannino, a school administrator who has visited 35 homes on a list of 142 — yet only caught two out-of-district kids. “When there’s so many kids on a wait list, it’s not fair to those who are legit.”

Several wait-listed families have rushed to other area schools, including PS 10 at Prospect and Seventh avenues, begging to apply, but principals have close their doors, saying that they may not have space for all their in-zone students.

Parents are demanding city action, even calling for PS 107’s lone, 18-seat pre-K class to be canceled to open up more kindergarten seats.

“Unless they convert that pre-K, I don’t have any hope at all,” said Steven Kreps, whose son, Reuben, is 41st on the wait list.

PS 107 isn’t the only battleground in the war to make room in Park Slope’s overburdened schools. Other area schools, including PS 39 on Sixth Avenue, turned away in-zone kindergartners for the first time, leaving parents to scramble for seats and worry about competing for spots in the years to come.

Laura Scott, principal of PS 10 on nearby Seventh Avenue, said she was able to accommodate all her in-zone applicants, but making room has become more difficult.

“I don’t know if there was a baby boom we were unaware of or parents are now thinking about zoned schools instead of private schools because of the economy, but we have more students than usual,” she said.

The city is mandated to provide seats for kindergartners, but not necessarily in the child’s home district or zones. Education Department spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld said that when a school has more students than seats, the city offers a slot at a nearby alternate schools.

“Mostly every single time, it’s in their district,” he said.

Some spaces open up as some accepted parents opt for private schools or make it in to the city’s gifted and talented schools, so some wait-listed kids will get some good news at the end of May, he added.

But even those who work for the city aren’t immune to the wait-list limbo. Marc Sternberg, the school system’s deputy chancellor for portfolio planning, also has a would-be kindergartner on PS 107’s wait list.

Getting into kindergarten in Park Slope is becoming almost as difficult as getting into Harvard. First preference goes to siblings of students already enrolled in the school zone, then to children who live in the zone, but don’t have siblings at PS 107. Siblings of PS 107 students who now live outside the zone are next, ahead of out-of-zone applicants, who are considered last.

Kreps said that when he applied at PS 107, school officials told him they would have no problem admitting Reuben, so he did not apply at other nearby schools as backup. The wait-list letter arrived like a bombshell, threatening to shatter his family’s work schedules, finances and child care.

As a result, Krebs and his wife, Harlene, are discussing home-schooling Reuben or forming a home-schooled group with other wait-listed parents, as many are worried that the Department of Education does not have a long-term plan.

“What’s going to happen when there’s 147 more kids behind the kindergartners, in third grade, second grade and first grade?” Krebs asked. “It doesn’t feel like the city has a comprehensive plan for that.”

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018: Some confusing language has been changed.
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Reasonable discourse

Hopper from Los S-S says:
I read somewhere that 2007 was a baby-boom year in which more American babies were born than in any of the "classic" baby boom years. Maybe some proactive preparation was in order???
March 30, 2011, 8:25 am
tony from park slope says:
Maybe it is time for school administrators to go to the home of each child registered to determine if they actually live in the district. On any given day, you can witness children being dropped off and picked up by cars.

These people are supposed to live locally. The pick-up/drop-off is immediately suspect.

At PS 321, I know of at least two families that have children attending the school, who don't even live in Park Slope. That's a big problem.

Other than people outside the district using local schools, I think these Park Slope parents ought to suck it up. Let's increase class sizes in the slope or take new registrants to schools in surrounding districts.

I imagine that it should just be accepted that the whiny spoiled brats of Park Slope will have whiny parents with a sense of entitlement crying for public support.
March 30, 2011, 8:43 am
dk from CG says:
and so the migration of families out of the city begins...
March 30, 2011, 9:40 am
Ralti from Midwood says:
Well perhaps if they stopped turning every empty lot into a condo, as well as every one family house, we wouldn't be experiencing so much overcrowding. It's bad enough they've driven out all the hard working citizens. Now, there's no more room in the schools. And they're mad at the DOE? This is one of those times where it isn't the DOEs fault. It's the whining, gentrifying hipsters. Just leave!!!!
March 30, 2011, 10:04 am
Ralti from Midwood says:
Well perhaps if they stopped turning every empty lot into a condo, as well as every one family house, we wouldn't be experiencing so much overcrowding. It's bad enough they've driven out all the hard working citizens. Now, there's no more room in the schools. And they're mad at the DOE? This is one of those times where it isn't the DOEs fault. It's the whining, gentrifying hipsters. Just leave!!!!
March 30, 2011, 10:05 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
we know what Cathy Black would say...
March 30, 2011, 10:13 am
JRD from CG says:
It's a crazy world, one which I am happy not to be a part of, at least for the moment
March 30, 2011, 12:32 pm
JC from Kensington says:
Oh calm down everyone, spots will open up by September and these kids will get into their local school. And, horror of horrors, should a few kids not get into their zoned school they will be placed close by, so its not the end of the world. A few other commenters above asked why nothing was being done about, well, isn't the city building a brand-spanking-new elementrary school on 4th Avenue to help alleviate over-crowding? Schools are very expensive and time-consuming to build so its not like the city can just slap a few up--just in case there are a lot of kids in a few years.
March 30, 2011, 12:46 pm
Victoria Guisinger from PS 107 says:
This article includes incorrect information about the priority of students for seats.

PS 107 follows the NYC DOE admissions process:
1. Zoned students with a sibling who will be in grades 1-5 at the school in 2011-2012;
2. All other zoned students;
3. Students residing in the school's district but outside the school's zone, with a sibling who will be in grades 1-5 at the school in 2011-2012;
4.Students residing outside the school's district, with a sibling who will be in grades 1-5 at the school in 2011-2012;
5.All other students residing in the school's district but outside the school's zone;
6. All other students.

Victoria Guisinger,
PS 107 PTA Vice-President
March 30, 2011, 1:10 pm
Nikki from park slope says:
I heard that, if a child is already in preK for the school, they have priority over other zoned kids. Is it true? If so, the selection process for zoned children without sibling is not entirely fair?
March 30, 2011, 1:53 pm
jj from brooklyn says:
This is a joke. If (if) Atlantic Yards housing is ever built, where do you think all THOSE kids will be heading?

All those new apartments throughout Downtown Brooklyn — thousands of them. Where are the new schools?
March 30, 2011, 2:01 pm
JC from Kensington says:
jj, they'll find space--they always do. And perhaps you've noticed, new schools are under construction now and others are in the pipeline. Yes, a few might be overcrowded for a couple years and yes, a few kids might have to walk a couple extra blocks to another school, but its going to be ok, everyone will get a seat.
March 30, 2011, 3:34 pm
anonymous from gowanus says:
According to Inside Schools, citywide there are 3,195 Kindergarteners waitlisted at 157 schools. Where is Cathie Black? Rumor is that she is on vactation in Europe.
March 30, 2011, 3:53 pm
jj from brooklyn says:
i think jc is dreaming.

take a look at lower manhattan. they are NOT enough seats, and there won't be for years.

the same will happen soon in Downtown Brooklyn.
March 30, 2011, 4 pm
Billy from Park Slope says:
My tax dollars are exhausted. A a man with no school aged children, I've spent more than half my life and a majority of my tax dollars funding the education of other people's children. Let people that claim children as dependents use their tax breaks to fund their kids educations. It seems the only solution to every education problem is "more money". It's time to double up the kids in the classrooms. Line up the desks in rows and drop all the "touchy-feely" crap. All that our overpriced public schools produce are kids with a sense of entitlement, who can't communicate without some sort of electronic crutch.
March 30, 2011, 9:47 pm
MK from Queens says:
Billy - You're a fool. The tax dollars of people who don't drive are used to build roads, the tax dollars of peace-niks are used to fight wars, the tax dollars of law-abiding citizens are used to arrest, process and jail criminals. Stop crying and realize that you live in a society where taxes pay for a menu of services, including schooling our future tax-payers.
March 31, 2011, 10:54 am
Norwood from Georgia says:
I grew up in Park Slope my children, my sister and brothers children went to PS107 we never heard of no space for kindergarten, oh well maybe it didn't matter back then.
March 31, 2011, 3:31 pm
Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
It doesn't matter. These kids are still ending up attending public school. They'll be, at the minimum, two years behind the learning curve compared to a parochial school student at the same grade level.

Unfortunately, you, the parents, are part of the problem. You parents attempt to create the illusion that your kids are attending a New England Day School. You all act like sharks in a feeding frenzy trying to get your kids enrolled into P.S. 29, P.S. 261, etc. The only difference between these examples and other public schools, in the area at large, is the level of mediocrity you can expect. There are no text books; only photocopied sheets from which to study. Why can't you people grasp the fact that "magnet" and "charter" schools are nothing but a fraud being perpetrated by DOE, abetted by the underqualified salary whores posing as teachers. These same "educators" are spending more time politically indoctrinating the students instead of focusing on the fundementals. Instead of teaching your kids English, mathematics, penmanship and history, they're being taught interpretive dances and songs celebrating the latest libtard cause of the moment. Your little stooges won't even be able to sign an unemployment check when they are adults; and, not to mention, being incapable of performing basic mathematical functions without the aid of a calculator. You're afraid to call your kids stupid because, deep in your minds, you're afraid that it is true.

Your children will tread the educational waters until it's time to kick them up to the next level, ill prepared to deal with the realities facing them because of the substandard education they are receiving. They'll grow up to be stupid adults dependent on what the government tells or gives them, similar to their parents.
April 1, 2011, 12:28 am
Boom from sunsettt says:
Well, that's what happens when everyone wants to move into Park Slope.

To be honest, just deal with it, every other neighborhood has the same issue, just because your precious kid can't get it doesn't mean you can send them to another school.
April 1, 2011, 6:47 am
Joe Z. from Greenpoint says:
Would Victoria Guisinger from PS 107 care to rebut any portion of my previous post?

These kids don't receive a proper education because they spend the school year "prepping" for the silly grade-specific city and state evaluation tests. If the teachers were actually doing their jobs by following a proper curriculum, the kids would be more than prepared by virtue of what the learned in class during the year. Instead, they are taught, by rote, only material directly pertinent to the tests.

Perhaps Ms.Guisinger could explain why it seems that the school year in P.S. 107, and just about every other public school in the are, is nothing but a non-stop fundraising drive, from Day 1 until the last class in June? The PTAs of the various schools like to present a facade of interest in the schools which they represent. The truth is, the PTAs are nothing more than social climbing networks that the members, of which, use to glom free stuff and favors from each other. The PTAs are more interested in holding wine and cheese parties rather than ensuring their children are receiving a proper, well rounded education. The PTAs of district 15 do mothing except parrot the schools' administrative policies. Nobody "rocks the boat" by offering dissenting opinions; because, everyone involved toes the party line. The school administrations, and the PTAs, don't like "troublemakers" who disturb the status quo.

Please, Ms. Guisinger, by all means refute anything I've written. You'll be hard pressed to do so without resorting to technocratic doublespeak.
April 2, 2011, 10:41 pm
NYC parent from Park Slope says:
District 15 has numerous, good guality elementary schools. If there is an overcrowding issue than they need to build a new school IN district 15. As no one wanted it "in their back yard" the current school being built on Fourth and Atlantic will house District 13 & 15 students. How unfair considering District 13 does not have the same quality schools choices. If you must write an article please look into some of the other neighborhoods - not just the one district with parents who yell the loudest.
April 3, 2011, 2:45 pm

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