P.S. 8 Kindergarten Waitlist Strikes Again-Now What?

Kindergarten placement notifications were emailed on Wednesday and some families are in for a disappointment. Just one year after rezoning, P.S. 8 will have a waitlist for the 2017-2018 academic year. This year 22 children received an alternate placement (vs. 50 children in 2015). The grapevine indicates children were offered seats at P.S. 307.  P.S. 8 received 187 in-zone applications and 165 offer letters were sent for the 125 available seats.  The number of offers is determined by the Office of Kindergarten Admissions.

Anecdotally, the impression has been that the rezoning of P.S.8 and 307 would stave off the problem for at least a few years.  But while waitlists at P.S. 8 could be the new normal, given historic rates of attrition (number of offers vs. numbers of actual registrations) there is a good chance the waitlist could clear for 2017-18.  Parents just have to be patient. NYC School Help consultant, Joyce Szuflita advised in her March 2016 blog post (“A Tale of Two Waitlists”), “People who panic drown. Remain calm.”  OK…easier said than done. So what else can parents do, right now?

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:

The wait list is stressful for families and all the impacted schools, both the overcrowded and those receiving overflow. So, be a good neighbor. PLEASE NOTIFY P.S.8 ASAP if you DON’T plan to send your child to the school whether your child was offered a seat or placed on the waitlist.

If you DO plan to send your child to P.S. 8, pre-register them without delay.  Bring your child with you to the school along with the required documentation Monday through Friday, between 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, until April 7th.  The sooner parents notify P.S.8 of their decisions, the sooner the administration can contact wait-listed families.

NEED TO KNOW FACTS & NEXT STEPS:

  • Read the P.S. 8 Waitlist FAQs.  Many of parents’ initial questions have been addressed by this document.
  • Confirm your child’s position on the waitlist. Contact the Office of Kindergarten Admissions at (718) 935-2009 or via email: ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov
  • Tour the school where your child received alternate placement. P.S. 307 is offering tours on Tuesday, March 14th – 9:00am and Tuesday, March 21st – 9:00am.  Parents are asked to call 718-834-4748 if they are unable to attend on those dates and times.
  • Investigate ALL D13 options.  The Kindergarten Admissions Guide lists schools by district with full contact information.
  • Be patient. The wait list tends to move in mid-April after the close of pre-registration (April 7th) and charter schools hold their lotteries. Expect more activity mid to late June after the Gifted & Talented acceptance deadline (June 16th).  Spaces often open up at the very end of the summer and even through the first weeks of school.
  • Pre-register your child at the school where they received alternate placement by the April 7th deadline. Your child must accompany you.  Please bring the required documentation.  This ensures your child a Kindergarten seat in September.

Joyce Szuflita is adamant about this last point. She emphasizes, “You WILL NOT get some imagined advantage by not registering. Not pre-registering does not force the DOE’s hand in any way. You will be placed on a regular wait list (like everyone else) for any school that you have ranked higher than the school that you were placed in (except your zoned school – where you are on the special Capped Zoned School wait list).” The capped wait list is explained in full in the P.S. 8 FAQs.

ALTERNATIVES:

  • Research and apply for charter schools by April 1st. Most charters conduct their admissions lotteries in April.
  •  If your child tested and qualified for either district or city-wide programs, submit a Gifted & Talented application by April 24th.
  • Check with private Pre-K’s such as Plymouth Church and Kiddie Korner, among others.  Many offer private Kindergarten programs.
  • Try the old stand-by private schools such as Packer Collegiate, St. Ann’s, Brooklyn Friends, etc. They belong to the Independent Admissions Association of Greater NY (ISAAGNY).  Acceptance letters were sent in early February and the reply deadline was February 17th.  But, it may be still possible to apply and placed on a wait list.  AltSchool and Basis Independent Brooklyn are not part of ISAAGNY but have similar admissions timelines. Parochial schools are another avenue to explore as well.  It has been suggested too that parents investigate tuition insurance if they apply to private schools late in the game.

RESOURCES:

DISCLOSURE: This correspondent was an active participant in advocating for wait-listed families in 2015-16.  She is a P.S. 8 parent, school volunteer and frequent attendee of various D13 meetings.  Views expressed in this post are gleaned from this experience and are solely those of the author.

EDIT: This post has been updated by removing Grace Church from the list of schools offering private Kindergarten as their program will be discontinued after this academic year.  A link for P.S. 307 has been added along with information about school tours.

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  • Banet

    Thank you for the informative post. One minor correction: Grace Church Dchool will no longer offer a Kindergarten — the current class is the last class.

  • SongBirdNYC

    Thank you. I’ve updated the post.

  • Banet

    A question. Do you have the contact information for PS307? Our child was assigned there but we would like to relinquish our spot.

    (It’s odd the letter tells you what to do to accept your spot but says nothing about what to do to relinquish it. Zero contact information for the school itself. I also thought that it was odd that the letter doesn’t in anyway acknowledge that the school you got was not your first choice. It just tells you where you’ve been assigned. And has no information about getting off the waitlist at the school of your choice.)

  • Poplar

    If you are planning on sending your child to any public school than you don’t “relinquish” the spot, you pre-register at the assigned school to remain on the waitlists for other schools.

    If you don’t plan to have your child attend any public school, then you can contact PS307 at 718-855-4181, I’d ask for the Parent Coordinator. It would also be nice to contact any school you ranked above it so that they can remove you from the waitlist and have a more accurate ranking for other families.

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    Bad news, but great post. Really informative and helpful. Thanks.

  • SongBirdNYC

    Your welcome. It was important to me personally that wait-listed families have as much info as soon as possible.

  • Banet

    Let my waitlist spit at PS8 go via email.

    Tried calling PS307 to let my slot there go as well but the voicemail box for the parent coordinator is full. Anyone have an email address?

  • Local person

    According to PS8’s site: “Admission priority is first granted to zoned siblings, then zoned non-sibling students, followed by non-zoned siblings and finally, non-zoned non-siblings.”

    Does anyone know which of these categories were waitlisted? e.g. were ‘zoned, non sibling students’ waitlisted?

  • SongBirdNYC

    Siblings of current students always get top priority. The zoned capped waitlist is comprised of zoned non-siblings.

  • BklynHtsMom

    As a parent of a zoned waitlisted child, I’d like to thank you as well. It’s been a trying few days, and seems that a long road is ahead as we begin to evaluate options.

    Two-plus years ago, there was huge uproar about the waitlist situation, leading to the eventual rezoning (which was clearly ineffective.) As a community, we can’t just sit idle this time around. How will we respond to DoE and political leadership this time around? Does anyone know of any one or any groups organizing a community response?

  • Tami

    As a parent of a former PS8 only child, I never understood why people were rewarded for having lots of kids and those with just one were penalized. There should not be sibling preference as it stresses the resources of the schools. It should be zoned students only. Also, after a few years there shouldn’t be a wait list because all of the siblings will have cycled through. Don’t fret, waitlisted parent. There are so many amazing schools out there. Look into some of the charter schools in our district and apply…ice, brooklyn prospect, there is one in red hook, BNS and 133 take from district 13 and 15. Additionally, as much as people like the convenience of PS8 I have to say now that we are out and have seen the excellence of other schools I wouldn’t stress about my child not getting in.

  • SongBirdNYC

    I was part of that uproar that was advocating for waitlisted families. ;) Parents were heard loud and clear and there are two groups that formed. 1) A Downtown Brooklyn School Taskforce was created two years ago. It is comprised of DOE reps (School Construction Authority, Office of District Planning, etc), CEC members, reps of elected officials, school reps and parent reps from all over Downtown Brooklyn. 2) Recently D13 itself created a Strategic Space Planning Committee to talk about capacity in our schools. SO there are definitely people working on the overcrowding issue. If you are interested in working with the D13 group, call the Family Resource Center. If you are interested in overcrowding/development issues for Downtown Brooklyn overall, then reach out to the CEC about getting involved with the Taskforce. The other great resource is DoBroSchools.org. As for parents mobilizing, that was more of a grass roots thing. WeArePS8Too FB page was created two years ago for the 2010 class of waitlisted families. It is now more of an education advocacy clearing house than specifically about PS8. But there was a recent post about the waitlist and parents were asking questions so you might be able to network if you jump on that thread.

  • c’mon

    People, use the PS8 document.

    And, sure, call Packer. LOL

  • MS8parent

    Just so you know, there have been uproars for 8-10years and steps taken each of those years. (you can google various overcrowding docs that parents, admin, CEC13, BHA, and Levin have worked on for a decade, to some success. The rezoning far predates the “uproar”)

    Somehow, the last group of parents were just either very new or simply uninformed about wait lists at PS8 that have been around since Dumbo arrived. Kinder is not a guarantee, WLs generally clear, and all kiids always get seats by 1st.

  • Banet

    The point of sibling preference is so a family doesn’t have to take their children to two different schools at the same time every morning and pick them up from two different locations every afternoon.

    Think about it. I you had one kid at PS8 and another in Red Hook how are you supposed to be in two places at the same time?

    Yes, some people have two parents with the luxury of getting to work that late and have a stay at home parent and a babysitter so pickups can work too but that’s far from the norm. (I’d argue those who have that flexibility are much more likely to be using a private school.)

    Sibling preference makes sense. It’s the humane thing to do for families.

  • Tami

    I agree! But then the siblings should all go their zoned school and give up the space to properly zoned children. Five out of zone siblings should not be given 5 spaces while a zoned only child is penalized for just being one.

  • Banet

    If the situation you describe happens at a school that accepted a lot of out-of-zone students because the zone wasn’t sending enough kids, then the zone is clearly in transition and it’ll be just a few years before all the out-of-zone kids are gone.

    If you’re talking about PS 8 or PS 29 sepcifically, they’ve both been so full of zoned kids that the out-of-zone younger siblings you’re talking about are from families that started in the zone and then moved out of zone.

    I don’t know how many of these families there are but saying that the younger child should go to their new school zone and the older should change schools to join them is frequently not the answer as there well may not be room at the older grades for the older sibling to enter a new school.

    For example, if a family lives in a rental by PS 8 and starts their kid there and then a few years later buys an apartment in Cobble Hill… as you suggest, the older sibling should be pulled from the crowded PS8 and enrolled in… the crowded PS29.

    Not to mention, the best learning environment for a child is a stable environment.

    (I would be curious if anyone had the stats — how many of the 187 applications for kindergarten were from out-of-zone siblings?)

  • Banet

    In partial response to my own question. In looking at the PS8 Waitlist FAQ I see that last year there were 35 siblings applying to Kindergarten out of the 148 applicants. Or 23.6%. So roughly 1/4th of all applicants are siblings.

    How many are from families that have moved out of zone? No clue. It can’t be that many and really, beyond some added stress of waiting, it’s likely academic as everyone expects this waitlist to clear.

    It’s in a few years when the big new buildings open up on Remsen and Pierrepont as well as some Witness conversions that we’re really going to have a problem. :-/

  • Banet

    Songbird, your answer doesn’t jibe with what it says on the FAQ. As “Local Person” posts above, the FAQ reads:

    “12) What are the admissions priorities for P.S. 8?

    A: Admission priority is first granted to zoned siblings, then zoned non-sibling students, followed by non-zoned siblings and finally, non-zoned non-siblings.”

    According to this FAQ, zoned non-siblings come BEFORE non-zoned siblings. If the FAQ is correct then there are a bunch of little brothers and sisters of families that moved out of zone waiting behind the new families who live in the zone.

    Do you know? Is the FAQ correct or are you correct?

  • Slyone

    I’m always hesitant to speak to DOE rules (they are hard to figure!), but my experience from a fair ways back when you still had some out of zone kids in my older child’s grade, was that in zone non-sibs came before out of zone sibs: younger sister of a friend of my older child had to go to K at 282 for a couple of weeks before getting a slot at 8 — DOE higher-ups required them to wait to verify there was room. She was one of a couple of out-of-zone sibs that had to do that they year, about 5 years ago.

    Exception now would be for DUMBO sibs that were rezoned last year and grandfathered.

  • SongBirdNYC

    The only non-zoned siblings that would have any priority are those who are grandfathered. In PS8’s case, siblings from Dumbo. But If a grandfathered Dumbo family moves before the sibling starts Kindergarten, the younger sibling no longer has that priority.

  • SongBirdNYC

    I didn’t meant to imply that there has been no advocacy prior to the 2015 waitlist “uproar.” I was talking specifically about two groups that formed recently as a result of the 2015 discourse. As far as PS8 wait lists yes, I suppose there are and always will be parents who are new and/or uninformed. That said, I was concerned about overcrowding from the time my son was two (my family thought I was crazy). And historically the waitlists were short-ish and based on PS8’s average attrition they did clear. But the 2015 waitlist was the first one in recent years to have 50 kids on it. That was significant and parents (informed or not) were upset about it.

  • BeenHereSince2013?

    Have no idea how old your kids are — or how long it’s been since he was 2. Maybe you werent’ here during the years when kids had classes in trailers in the play yard. Or before the annex. Or the many meetings at PS 8 and Plymouth. It’s all fairly recent history. The current 3rd grade class is the first class to move into the school post-annex construction.

  • SongBirdNYC

    I moved here in 2010. And again, I’m aware of the history and was not implying there had been no waitlist ever, or no advocacy by parents and politicos prior to the 2015 waitlist. Or that the incoming K class in 2015 were the first parents to deal with overcrowding. Trailors are terrible. The construction of the Annex was beyond difficult. I’m sorry families and students had to deal with that. My goal is to keep incoming parents informed so they have reasonable expectations, ways to navigate the DOE and advocate for themselves. The DOE can be inscrutable to incoming parents. But many of their children will eventually attend PS8. We want informed involved parents at the school.

  • Slyone

    Not to respond to or contradict anything big picture here, but the new wing fully opened during the current 5th grade’s K year. They had access to the classrooms from the beginning of the year, but no access to cafeteria until halfway through — they had to use the gym as a cafeteria for the first half of the year (anyone else remember that?).

  • Banet

    Ok, so the Brooklyn Paper has some interesting numbers.

    For the 125 slots…
    There were 187 applications.
    There were 165 acceptances sent out.
    There were 22 placed on the waitlist.

    According to the Brooklyn Paper (see link at the end of my comment) 18 of those 22 waitlisted students were out-of–zone younger siblings (one assumes coming from Dumbo or Vinegar Hill).

    So really, only 4 zoned Brooklyn Heights kids were waitlisted. Which makes the odds of a zoned kid being waitlisted are only 2.36% (4 divided by the 165 acceptances + the 4 waitlisted zoned kids).

    Obviously I don’t know who those 4 are, but one of them was my kid (who we already decided will be going elsewhere) and another of the 4 is a friend of his from pre-school who will also be going elsewhere.

    So it seems like for this year, there are at most 2 Brooklyn Heights families on tenterhooks waiting to hear if they got in and 18 Dumbo/Vinegar Hill families that hope their kindergartener attends the same school as their big sibling.

    With each passing year there will be fewer of those Dumbo/VH little siblings applying to Kindergarten so that list of 18 should dwindle each year. The only question is whether it will dwindle faster or slower than new families move to the neighborhood.

    (EDIT: There’s now a comment on that Brooklyn Paper piece stating that the waitlist IS NOT dominated by Dumbo little siblings. That the Dumbo little siblings are treated like any other little siblings and therefore had preference over new families from Brooklyn Heights.

    This makes intuitive sense to me as the odds of BOTH my child AND his classmate being 2 of the 4 waitlisted Brooklyn Heights families seems very slim.)

    http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/40/11/_dtg-ps8-overcrowded-again-2017-03-17-bk.html

  • StudioBrooklyn

    My kid was also one of the 4 zoned Brooklyn Heights kids who was waitlisted…and will be going elsewhere. Curious now…

  • Banet

    Ok, so the odds of having identified 3 of 4 Heights kids on the waitlist are incredibly, incredibly slim.

    I now highly doubt the Dumbo siblings were in line after all the Heights kids/ make up 18 of the 22 waitlisted kids.

    Let’s prove it. Does anyone else know of a waitlisted Heights kid? I bet we can locate more than 4.

  • Guest

    There are more than 4 Brooklyn Heights zoned families waitlisted.

    (Banet, you stated you’re not sending your child to PS8, but you’ve made many comments on this issue in the last week. I’m sure this comes from a sincere desire to be community minded and neighborly, but thought you should know that the style of some of your posts may translate a bit like rubbernecking or tone deaf to those waitlisted families who actually want to attend PS8.)

  • Slyone

    Has the article been edited to reflect the comment? When I read it just now, I understood that the 18 DUMBO sibs were being identified as a cause of the wait list, not as necessarily being on the wait list. Which I think was the DOE’s point — but it’s also not a very fact-based point — if there are 40 more kids who registered on-time this year (compared to last year) from the zone, and only 18 DUMBO sibs . . .