New Upper East Side School Struggling to Attract Kids

By Amy Zimmer on December 16, 2010 10:51am 

The new P.S. 267, which will start with three classes of kindergarteners, will be called East Side Elementary School.
The new P.S. 267, which will start with three classes of kindergarteners, will be called East Side Elementary School.
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DNAinfo/Gabriela Resto-Montero

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

UPPER EAST SIDE — When P.S. 267 opened this year, education officials hoped it would alleviate some of the overcrowding and waitlists at other Upper East Side public schools.

The Department of Education projected the new school would have an incoming class of 75 kindergartners and allocated money based on that figure. Instead, roughly 45 students showed up — and parents are now worried the school will have to return some of its start-up money.

That number may even be dwindling: Some parents whose kids started with P.S. 267's inaugural class have pulled them after the school year's start to put them in the more established — but overcrowded — P.S. 290 or 183, said P.S. 267 parent Tobie Cornejo.

One kid "disappeared" just last week, Cornejo said.

Now, she and other P.S. 267 parents are trying to convince Upper East Side families to join their school to beef up the student body. But by airing their concerns over financing, those parents may be having the opposite effect.

Cornejo, who lives on East 90th Street, had initially enrolled her twin boy and girl in private school, but after the economy plummeted and education officials announced P.S. 267 would open in the neighborhood, she decided to send her kids there.

Cornejo said she couldn’t be happier.

"We feel like we hit the lottery," she said, explaining that her kids have art, music, gym and the attention that private school kids normally get.

At a Tuesday night hearing on the DOE's plans to redraw the boundaries for Upper East Side school, Cornejo told parents, "Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. A new school could be even better."

Some P.S. 267 parents tried to convince the Community Education Council — which will vote next week on a DOE plan to redraw the area's school zones — to include even more buildings in their school's district. But some families newly added to the P.S. 267 zone under the city’s latest zoning iteration want out of it.

"We have fantastic leadership, top notch teachers and, in two years, we’ll have a new building," said P.S. 267 parent Viviane Tubiana.

Most recent iteration of the Department of Education's plan to redraw Upper East Side School boundaries. The colored blocks represent proposed areas.
Most recent iteration of the Department of Education's plan to redraw Upper East Side School boundaries. The colored blocks represent proposed areas.
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Department of Education

The school, led by Medea McEvoy — who before working as a DOE executive officer of instruction was an educator for a decade at the area's highly-esteemed P.S. 6 — currently shares a building with P.S. 158 at 1458 York Ave. It will move to move to the former Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat building at 213 East 63rd St. 

"We need a viable number of students," said Tubiana, who would like a few more blocks dedicated to the school’s new zone to help guarantee more students.

Under the current plan, the DOE anticipates P.S. 267 will have 60 incoming kindergartners in 2011. Some parents feared that only 35 might actually end up attending.

"I know many parents who spoke said wonderful things, but I’m feeling nervous about sending my kids to an underfunded school," Kim Goldberg said.

She's opposed to the DOE's plans to remove her building, Bridge Tower Place at 401 E. 60th Street, from the P.S. 183 zone to P.S. 267's. Other parents at her self-described "baby factory" building worried, too.

DOE official Elizabeth Rose told parents that a large number of families offered seats for P.S. 267 chose otherwise, whether for "gifted and talented programs, private school or moving to the suburbs."

"What we can do for next year is project more conservatively," Rose said. "It definitely put 267 in a difficult position this year."

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