Parents Turned Activists Create Petition for Wait-Listed P.S. 8 Kindergartners

Parents of children both admitted for Kindergarten at P.S. 8 and those wait-listed for 2015 have joined together and launched a petition.  They urge the DOE to re-instate six Kindergarten classes for the fall of 2015 and to publicly engage the community to create meaningful medium and long-term solutions to overcrowding.

“Warnings to the community after the deadlines for other available options have passed do not constitute a plan.  The lack of transparency throughout the admissions process and the failure of the DOE to come up with a short-term strategy have shifted the burden to families.  The consequences are being shouldered by our children.  Parents are forced to make hasty decisions about the most important issue in their young children’s lives:  education.

Parents of zoned children born in 2010 have been left behind by the DOE. Fall 2014 Pre-K classes were eliminated at P.S. 8 and the sixth Kindergarten class was added.  Now, that sixth Kindergarten class has been cut for 2015.  Our children have been locked out not once, but TWICE.”

The petition can be found in its entirety on  The group also has a Facebook page.

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  • Joe

    I’m familiar with the use of space now. Where would they put this class? Every room is in use, they’ll graduate 3 classes and take in 5. Classes will be combined to max DOE allowed student per room. The science labs, drama room, art studio all long gone. Where would these seats actually be placed?

    Rezoning makes sense. This does not

  • Joe

    Music room also long gone. No room for trailers after annex was built. I mean this sincerely, where would you put the kids?

  • BHMommy

    Agree that rezoning makes sense, but the DOE didn’t rezone – they just randomly selected 50 kids across the zone and assigned them to PS 307. If they split off part of Dumbo, it would have been more fair and transparnet

  • Henry on Henry

    That’s the definition of “lottery” and it was fair. That’s the way it works in NYC. It’s a big zone.

  • BHMommy

    The whole concept of a lottery is unfair – the zone should be cut. If they want to send kids to 307, cut off the area that’s closest to 307. That’s what they did in Park Slope for 321 and the alternate school, 133, is a huge success story. Another option is to cut off South Brooklyn Heights, parts of Cobble Hill and Downtown Brooklyn, build a new school and alleviate overcrowding at 29 as well…

  • Henry on Henry

    You may not like it but In this instance the lottery was fair. What isn’t fair, is forcing more students into an already overcrowded building and having total disregard for the unacceptable situation that currently exists at ps 8

  • Joe

    I suspect the area will be re zoned. But like at 321, it will be a many year process. It won’t happen this year or next and probably not the year after that. In the meantime, there is the lottery system. It’s been in place for decades – and whether you like it or agree with it, that’s the system we have and is used at many schools in NYC.

    Cramming 24 more kids in is simply not physically possible. If it is, someone please point out where they would go

    Meanwhile, 24% of kids were waitlisted, not 40%, and ps 29 does not now have a waitlist – and they’ve never had a waitlist. Continuing to get basic facts wrong doesn’t help.

  • BHMommy


    1. The original information that was provided to parents by the DOE was that PS 8 only made 125 acceptance offers. The Parent Coordinator at PS 8 later clarified that was incorrect and that only 50 kids were waitlisted. So yes, the DOE originally said 40%, which we now know was wrong.

    2. PS 29 told the PTA that they will add a 7th K class this year if they need to in order to avoid a waitlist and gave the community a warning that there will likely be a waitlist next year – a full year in advance.

  • Boop

    Not to sound silly, but when I went to kindergarten in the burbs I was in morning kindergarten, and there was a separate afternoon class. Why can’t this structure be adopted here? Then everyone could have a spot.

  • miriamcb

    This is what they do in Chicago to alleviate overcrowding. The K-8 school which I taught in for years did this. There are a couple things that might prevent it here – the Kinder teachers have a much longer day and so that has to be accounted for in the union contract as well as their timing for breaks, lunch and planning time. The kinder teaches, especially if you want to just double the number of classes to 10 instead of 5, usually start their day before the rest of school and end after the rest of school does. I believe our Kinder teachers’ schedule was 7:30am until 4pm with the school day itself running from 8-4 for the two different classes per day.

    The other complication is that sometimes parents don’t like this option because it forces families to find childcare for the other half of the day.

    Not saying this is an impossible solution (I thought the same solution could probably work), but there are some hurdles to get through which would have required notice and planning. On the plus side, NYC could look at Chicago’s structuring of this in overcrowded schools to see how this has worked. It worked very well in the school where I taught.

  • PS Teacher

    Kindergarten in NYC public schools is a full day program, that will not be changed. For the public schools that have pre-k it is also a full day program.

  • miriamcb

    This split day solution is not Chicago-wide – only in the areas that experience over-crowding where no more infrastructure was a possibility. Other areas in the city have their full day programs. It just had to be negotiated and allowed for in the contract, when it came up.

    I totally get it with NYC schools – I used to work in the school system here too.

  • PS Teacher

    Ultimately it doesn’t solve the problem of over crowding as the grades progress which is the central problem. I understand the fears and frustration on all sides.

  • miriamcb

    You’re totally right and that’s really the biggest issue here – that the DOE hasn’t meaningfully engaged yet for a larger solution.

  • Poplar

    Having 6 classes would allow 25 more children to attend (legal cap for a K class). So some wait listed families would still be unable to attend, right?

  • Mom Interrupted

    Why not do a lottery and send one class of each grade to 307? That would really relieve overcrowding. Is that fair? No. None of this is fair. There are families who’ve lived here far longer than families in the school waitlisted. Families with multiple kids in the school and a family can’t get one kid in. Kids who live a block from PS8 being sent a mile to 307. None of this is fair. Rezoning with plenty of notice for people to send kids with their immediate neighbors en masse to their new zoned school or move if they’re not happy with their new zoned school is the only fair thing. The DOE screwed up. Period.

  • Concerned

    It’s important to be heard. It’s important that the DOE, the Mayor and anyone else relevant to these issues know that we have a voice and that we’re not going to be pushed around by “the powers that be”. The petition calls for long term solutions as well as short term solutions. Even if you disagree with some of the short term solutions being suggested, it is important that this area is heard regarding the long term solutions.

  • Joe

    These facts are really just tick ticks on how you received information. PS8 released that there would be 5 k classes and a parent who, I assume, has never been through this process before figured that meant the school was accepting 5×24 kids. Using that number, they posted it here and the Daily News picked it up. It’s too bad that number is still around and used in petitions like the one here – when people now have the correct information. It’s really kind of lame. The DOE released the actual wl numbers within 24 hrs of parents being notified of placements, as they do every year.

    I don’t have a kid at ps8 but I have in the past. The last PTA meeting I went to included a discussion about how/when kids would have to be waitlisted. This was back before One Brooklyn Bridge was opened. It was discussed in meetings way back as long as I can remember, I remember one with local pols before 70 Washington was converted. I’m sure it’s happened recently at PS29, but just because you weren’t aware of these meeting at PS8 doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.

    Also, the trailers in the playground, the annex being built to ease overcrowding. These were all high profile projects. Hard to miss there was a problem, in my opinion.

    Seth spoke REGULARLY for years with local politicians like Steve Levin urging action. If Mr Levin and others are saying they weren’t aware, they are not being truthful.

  • Banet

    Rezoning 321 to move some of their region to 133 took many years because they had to build a brand new building for 133.

    In this case, there’s already an underattended, fully built school for DUMBO to attend right next door — 307.

    The DOE should be providing a neighborhood experience for every elementary school student. The only logical solution is to redistribute the incoming students geographically.

    And even after they do that they’ll have to build a new school somewhere between PS 8 and PS 29 — there will just be too many students from new construction.

    (For the record, I don’t have any kids in the schools yet. My oldest would be attending Kindergarten several years from now.)

  • BHMommy

    The director of one of the local preschools called the DOE the day before offers were made how the waitlist would work and they told her that they were giving out 125 offers. This was corrected by Leanne 3 days later when a parent who was registering her son asked Leanne the same question.

    Everybody has been aware of the overcrowding for years, but the discussion about cutting a class didn’t start until November and was not made until March. Squadron and Levin both said on numerous occasions that there was enough room for 6 classes this year, but not going forward.

  • BHMommy

    possibly, but the attrition rate is usually about 25%, so it would only affect maybe 3 or 4 families, not 50

  • Poplar

    From BrooklynBridgeParents Website: The attrition rate has been approx. 30 in the past years, that’s why approx. 25 kids beyond the 125 seats have been accepted. 50 kids are currently on the PS 8 wait list. The attrition rate is VERY hard to predict but if it stays consistent with the last years, only a handful of kids on the wait list would get in. PS 8 would really need 7 Kindergarten classes for the school year 2015/2016 to accept all in-zone students.

  • PS Teacher

    As an employee of the DOE I am sad to say I am not surprised. The system is too big to run effectively. Nobody seems to be accountable or in charge. The same question will yield a different answer each time it’s asked. The more actively involved the parents are the more likely the schools/students needs will be addressed. At the same time it is heartbreaking for the communities that don’t have the resources to demand accountability. Imagine having no choice except your zoned failing school. I imagine many of the wait-listed parents have similar fears.

  • BHMommy

    Their math is wrong. If the attrition rate is 30% and the number of applicants is 207 – that leaves 145 kids who want to attend – 6 K classes = 150 kids.

  • Poplar

    In past years the attrition rate has been 30 children, not 30%.

  • Guest

    Has that been proposed as a possible solution or is that just an idea parents have in mind? It might work as a long term solution but building a new school could take years and the crisis is already here. Rezoning DUMBO is the only solution. Although DUMBO parents will fight it and Walentas too. Maybe he is part of the reason it hasn’t been done already. If he wants to continue to build in DUMBO and command such high prices he should offer to build an elementary school as well.
    Are any private schools looking to expand? While not an option for everyone it’s an option for some and would help.

  • d13parent

    i agree that it’s pretty inexcusable that the DOE has not come up with a better short-term solution.

    but to correct some facts, 133 is not an alternate zoned school for 321. you are thinking of ps 118. 118 was an entirely new zone created out of a portion of 321’s old zone. but it is a small school and was placed in a rented space, so it did not take years to build. what did take years was for the district and the CEC to come to a resolution about the rezoning, but this was, in part, because it involved multiple school zones as well as two districts and a building under construction.

    so PS 118 works but it is probably not a great comparison to rezoning a portion of PS 8 into 307. the 118 zone and school is now one of the most affluent in the city, and even more homogenous than the 321 zone. the rezoning was actively stewarded by very dedicated politicians. as a result, after the initial shock the de-zoned parents were given LOTS of comfort and now have tons of money. they do not feel “put upon” the way some of the families being sent to 307 would likely feel, given the vast difference between the socio-economics of the 307 and 8 zones.

    133 is also successful, but it is not a zoned school. it’s a lottery school in a beautiful new building that replaced a zoned school. de-zoning that school was not very popular for the families who lived in that zone, because they wanted the new school building, and they were rezoned into a school that has challenges. and even though it has become attractive to many families, i would be surprised if many zoned for 321 (etc.) are attending it. i believe it is more likely families from the less affluent zoned D15/D13 schools.

    i think a more useful example for PS 8 would be to look at the recent rezoning of PS 154 and/or the new school building in kensington that is going to house the upper grades of an existing elementary, as a way of alleviating overcrowding at the existing building.

    with all the smart, ethical and creative brooklyn heights and DUMBO parents, i would hope you could come up with an innovative middle-term solution that deals not only with the overcrowding but attempts to address in some way the vast inequities between schools located less than a mile apart. but you are right not to wait until the DOE presents you with a plan, as it will almost certainly satisfy no one.

  • BHMommy

    The problem about the inequity was that it was created by the DOE when they created that school zone – the map is bizzare and clearly a product of gerrymandering, b/c it slices out one block where 307 is from the rest of Vinegar Hill. If the DOE were to cut off Vinegar Hill and part or all of Dumbo and rezone that entire area into 307 with the goal of boosting that school, I don’t think that parents would feel as put upon, b/c that would be their zoned school. The problem now is that the DOE is shipping kids from all over the zone (in some cases from the opposite end of their zone) into a school that is not their zoned school.

    The other problem is that the 2015 parents have tons of mid term and long term suggestions, but nobody can get a forum for anyone to listen. We’ve tried to get meetings with Seth Phillips, David Goldsmith, Thomas Taratko, Barbara Freeman, etc. and sent tons of letters and nobody responds :(

  • BHMommy

    whoops! (although when we asked the P.S. 8 parent coordinator the attrition rate, she said that it’s usually about 25%)

  • Lawrence

    There are two rooms available as classrooms. The math works.