The parent grapevine is on fire. Brooklyn Heights parents in District 13 with children born in 2010 and expecting their kids to have a seat at P.S. 8 in the fall were left anxious, angry and confused after this reporter learned there will be 5 Kindergarten classes next year instead of the current 6. For those following the narrative of the overcrowding issue at P.S. 8, this announcement came as a surprise. And not the good kind.
In November 2013, P.S. 8 cut their Pre-K classes to make room for a sixth K class. At the P.S. 8 PTA Town Hall in November of last year, concerned parents were promised transparency from the DOE but no short-term solutions were presented. The meeting was contentious for many.
In late January the DOE held a special information session on Kindergarten Admission. The Q&A session of this gathering quickly turned to parents re-raising questions asked at the November Town Hall meeting. Then earlier this week the DOE served the community the feared cut in the number of Kindergarten classes.
Sources claim this decision was made without the knowledge of neighborhood advocates, NYC Councilmember Steve Levin and NY State Senator Daniel Squadron. Daniel Squadron made the following statement, “My colleagues and I raised the flag with the community about overcrowding at PS 8 months ago. We have been clear that turning away families this year is unacceptable. We must also ensure that our kids have adequate, quality learning space in PS 8 next year and for years to come. We will continue to push DOE for substantive engagement and a solution that ensures our eligible 5 and 6-year-old students have a seat at P.S. 8.”
Council Member, Steve Levin commented, “I have been working with PS 8 parents, the PTA, the principal and other local elected officials for some time to urge DOE to take the issue of overcrowding at PS 8 seriously and come forward with solutions that are sensitive to the needs of prospective zoned families and the PS 8 community as a whole. It’s time for the DOE to consider all available options and move to ensure that every child zoned for PS 8 has the chance to receive a quality education in our public schools.”
What does this mean for parents and children hoping to attend a safe, good school in their own neighborhood?
- There are currently 207 applications for in-zone ascending Kindergarten students.
- The maximum Kindergarten class size dictated by UFT contract is 25. Five classes of 25 creates 125 available Kindergarten seats. This leaves as many as 80 plus zoned students wait-listed or assigned to other schools in the district.
- Utilizing last year’s rate of attrition, the P.S. 8 wait list could be reduced to just under 30 children. (Just under 30 children? Sounds close to 25 which would be a 6th class. Hmm. Sounds like we just bought DOE and CEC another year to actually have a PLAN.- ed.)
- Notification letters will be sent the first week of April.
- Placement at P.S. 8 is awarded via a random lottery determined by the DOE. There is no priority given based on proximity to P.S. 8.
- Positions on the wait-list are also determined by DOE lottery.
- Those not offered a seat at P.S. 8 will be given an alternate placement at another District 13 school. This placement, space permitting may be influenced by parents’ ranking of alternate schools on their applications. However, if a parent has not indicated a back up choice or the DOE is unable to place the student at one of the alternate choices, the DOE will make the placement themselves.
- The P.S. 8 Administration was not advised as to which schools are able to accommodate the excess students.
- No over-age children will be admitted to Kindergarten at P. S. 8. Meaning, no red-shirting.
- Addresses will be verified when families register their child in person at P.S. 8. Surprise home visits have been conducted in the past and may be conducted again this year.
- Those families who have already made plans to move out of the neighborhood or send their child to private or charter schools must wait until the notification letters have been received to withdraw their application to P.S. 8.
In a recent development, some well informed parents have hinted the DOE could potentially reverse its decision with enough community pressure. To voice your opinion, contact any of the DOE representatives and our elected officials:
District 13 CEC President, David Goldsmith firstname.lastname@example.org
PS8 Principal, Seth Phillips: email@example.com (718) 834-6740
PS8 Parent Coordinator Leanne Mehno: LMehno@schools.nyc.gov (718) 834-6740, ex. 1061
District 13 Family Advocate: Precious Jones-Walker (718) 636-3284
DOE Chief of Space Management Group, Thomas Taratko: TTaratk@schools.nyc.gov
Superintendent Barbara Freeman: firstname.lastname@example.org (718) 636-3284
Steven Levin: email@example.com (718) 875-5200 (Ask for Casey Adams)
Daniel Squadron: firstname.lastname@example.org (718) 875-1517
Zeeshan Ott: Ott@nysenate.gov
Jo Anne Simon: email@example.com (718) 246-4889
Ptahra Jeppe: firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLOSURE: Both the author of the article and the publisher of Brooklyn Heights Blog have children born in 2010 who have applied to P.S. 8 K in the Fall.