Here’s Why Your Brooklyn Heights 5 Year Old Might Be Turned Away From P.S. 8 This Fall

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.

NYS Sen. Daniel Squadron address the November PS 8 Town Hall.

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

PS8 Principal, Seth Phillips: (718) 834-6740

PS8 Parent Coordinator Leanne Mehno: (718) 834-6740, ex. 1061

District 13 Family Advocate: Precious Jones-Walker (718) 636-3284

DOE Chief of Space Management Group, Thomas Taratko:

Superintendent Barbara Freeman: (718) 636-3284

Steven Levin: (718) 875-5200 (Ask for Casey Adams)

Daniel Squadron: (718) 875-1517
Zeeshan Ott:

Jo Anne Simon: (718) 246-4889
Ptahra Jeppe:

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.

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  • davoyager

    The Dock Street school is slated to be a middle school but because of MS 8 we no longer have a critical need for a neighborhood middle school. On the other hand over crowding at PS 8 indicates a need for a new lower school. It would seem only wise to me to rethink the whole Dock Street middle school thing and instead put a lower school there. Why nobody else has thought of this is beyond me.

  • Elle

    That’s crazy. I was born in ’93 and entered Kindergarten @ PS8 in ’98 (When Friedman was still the principal). Phillips was nice I guess…felt like he couldn’t wait to get rid of and was really strict with us the older kids. Back then in ’98 We only had two Kindergarten classes of about 20 kids each. As I got older (3rd grade) PS8 put in 2 Pre-K classes and I think one or two more Kindergarten classes. It’s probably stupid to ask but how did the overcrowding even start? I graduated in 2004 (as a 5th grader) and even then there were so many more children already coming to the school. It’s terrible that it’s up to a DOE lottery to decide whether or not a child will get a seat.

  • Simon

    The problem is the current parent who don’t want to share the school’s success with others in the neighborhood. Forget Vinegar Hill and anything in Downtown. This ism classic inside the boat thinking — hahahaha we are drinking champagne while your drown, peasants! News flash – many of these parents will be uninvolved with the school by the next election cycle. Who do you think is a more valuable ally now?

  • Grow Up

    There have been 6 k classes for several years. Including prior to the elimination of preK.

    PreK was eliminated in the 2013-2014 year.

    PS8 has had MANY informational session about the school in vinegar hill which boasts a mandarin dual language program and has a 1mm STEM grant. They have 6 K classes with small class sizes and room for more.

    Moving many kids from 8 to vinegar hill creates a quorum of sorts. Much better than just 4 or 5 kids.

    THERE IS NO MORE ROOM. PS8 has been “raising the flag” for YEARS. The local pols and blogs maybe didnt pay attention til their kids were looking for a K seat but that doesn’t mean it didnt happen. The school was immediately fully subscribed when the annex opened.

    The Dock Street site has been raised by many people. That’s not a new idea. Also, MS8 doesn’t have a lot more room either.

    The meeting at Plymouth was not that contentious. Again, I’m surprised by everyone who pretends this problem has just appeared out of nowhere.

  • Simon

    You first, genius. STEM? That school is more about SHIV. So tell you what, anyone who wants to their kid to be an urban pioneer and how to say don’t shoot me in Mandarin is welcome to volunteer. Not forced.

  • Simon

    And spoken like a true inside the boater.

  • Racist

    If you’re afraid of black and brown kids, you really need get out of brooklyn.

  • Mom Interrupted

    44% of NYC public schools are overcrowded. How many are cutting enrollment this year? Nowhere near 44%. But I guess our problem is now solved. The PTA can stop showing up at every town hall demanding long term solutions. Admission at PS8 from now will be by lottery each year and all of the overflow kids can go to PS307, the charters (you win, Eva Moskowitz), or to New Jersey. Build all the buildings you want. Move in with your 2.6 kids. At least, when you decide to buy in one of the new highrises, you know that the neighborhood public school isn’t open to all kids. I wish we had that advanced notice.

  • miriamcb

    It’s really frustrating especially with BKHeights still commanding very high rent but with decreased infrastructure capacity all around.

    I was just to brunch with family friends who asked if my daughter would be able to go to UPK at our local school and I told them I wasn’t even sure she’d be able to get to Kindergarten when it’s time.

    Especially for Kindergarteners, it’s important to stay in the neighborhood they know. To walk streets to school with their caregivers that they are familiar with and feel secure in a building just up the street (without having to cross many major crossroads) so school is not also a battle of being in a completely unfamiliar neighborhood.

  • miriamcb

    I just tried sending an email including Barbara Freeman on the list using the email above ( and it was rejected with the error “Domain name not found”.

  • SongBirdNYC

    Superintendent Barbara Freeman’s email has been corrected: Also, Assemblywoman Jo Ann Simon’s phone number has been updated: (718) 246-4889

  • Reggie

    Several people have not only has this idea but have broached it with the DOE, which has thusfar not been receptive, stating there is a capacity need for the middle grades.

  • Reggie

    “How did the overcrowding even start?” PS 8 went from undesirable to desirable.

  • Educator

    Quite a highly defensive response. Let’s be realistic. What really happens when people attempt “artificial socialization” by removing children from neighborhood schools to improve struggling schools is failure. It failed in Philadelphia. It failed in Florida. It failed in Chicago.

    Parents move or send children to private school, and the public schools lose student equivalency money.

    Children deserve to socialize with those in their community. That’s part of learning too. “Methinks thou protestest too much.”

  • Banet

    What really exacerbates the situation is the fact that we’re right on the edge of District 13. I don’t know how much excess capacity there is in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and such, but it’s nuts that someone might live on State Street, be excluded from PS 8 by the lottery, but not be able to go to PS 29 (which is closer to them than PS to begin with!) because the district border happens to run down Atlantic Avenue. If you can’t get into your zoned school then you should be able to rank the other closest elementary schools regardless of zone. Does anyone know — has the DOE ever allowed this?

  • unbelievable

    Racist and shameful

  • SongBirdNYC

    In my conversations with District 13 CEC President, he explained the logical plan would be to move the 307 Middle School to Dock Street thus making more room for elementary students and then rezone. I understand that Dock Street is a Carmen Farina project and it has been slated as a middle school from the very beginning.

  • L Leonard

    According to Inside School’s twitter account, kindergarten offer letters are coming after spring break (4/3-4/12). So, we may have a couple more weeks of waiting.

  • heights res

    Don’t agree at all. Your very inflammatory term, “artificial socialization” is working very well at PS133 in Park Slope
    NYC is the most segregated city in the US and our schools are as well. Since this is created by housing patterns, creative school demographic development plans are very necessary.
    Segregated schools are not good schools, regardless of the wonderful arts programs and good test scores….

  • StoptheChop

    But deBlasio says “trust me!” when it comes to city planning! Riiiiiiight. (It isn’t just schools you know. All kinds of infrastructure is suffering- lower Manhattan has major issues with sanitation because of the hyperdevelopment.) And then, to delegitimize neighborhood residents with the dreaded NIMBY epithet, for daring to push back against City Hall’s willingness to sacrifice livability for its self-imposed metrics and deadlines, and its obsession with highrises anywhere and everywhere it can get away with—-

  • StoptheChop

    Way before Farina’s time. It was one of the “inducements” Walentas used to get Dock Street carved out of the DUMBO historic district so he could impose his highrise on the neighborhood.

  • AnonyMom


  • Banet

    Has there been any conversation about this actually happening? Aren’t most DUMBO parents at PS 8 very resistant to being rezoned to 307?

  • AnonyMom

    For those interested, I just called P.S. 307 and they are holding a tour this Thursday morning at 10:00 am.

  • SongBirdNYC

    No official talk that I am aware of. David was just explaining what he thought could be a good solution.

  • SongBirdNYC

    Thank you for the clarification on that.

  • Obvious Guy


  • BHMommy

    Heights res – 133 is a good example for rezoning – but in this case Goldsmith literally wants to bus middle class kids to schools far out of their zone into failing schools in the district to improve them. That sounds very artificial to me

  • BHMommy

    At this point 307 isn’t even the overflow school – they have NO short term plan in place for the overflow – just stick our kids anywhere in the district, no matter how much of a burden it is on a family with two working parents struggling to keep their kids in a good school zone.

  • BHMommy

    We are right there with you – South of Montague. In fact we only ranked 8 and 29 b/c those are the only schools in walking distance. I don’t know if it’s an option, but I’m pretending it is