Downtown Schools Open Extra Classes to Clear Kindergarten Waitlists

By Irene Plagianos on June 17, 2013 1:24pm 

 P.S. 276 students at work.
P.S. 276 students at work.
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DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos

LOWER MANHATTAN — The wait is finally over for more than 100 Downtown kids  — and their stressed parents — who have been fighting to secure a spot in Lower Manhattan's popular elementary schools.

Department of Education officials announced at a meeting with area principals, parents and local officials Friday that the waitlists for kindergarten in neighborhood's public schools — which had climbed to more than 100 youngsters this year — had now officially been cleared.

The DOE was able to eliminate the waitlists by adding more sections of kindergarten to Battery Park City’s P.S. 89 — to accommodate the overflow at both P.S. 89 and nearby P.S. 276 — and TriBeCa’s P.S. 150, which has long had only one class per grade.

And while parents said they were thrilled to have a seat for their child, principals and advocates worried that adding classes to schools that are already facing a space crunch is not a long-term solution.

"I'm happy to do it, but we're bending over backwards to do it," P.S. 89 Principal Ronnie Najjar said of opening the new sections, which will mean she has five classes of kindergarten this fall instead of the usual three. "I don't think this can be a long-term fix."

To clear the waitlist at the new Peck Slip School, currently housed in Tweed Courthouse, the DOE will move three children to the Financial District's Spruce Street School instead.

P.S. 150's future also remains in flux, after the DOE announced a possible plan to move the school to Chelsea in 2014, something many local parents and advocates have stridently opposed.

The announcement about Lower Manhattan waitlists comes a few days after the DOE acknowledged the need for 1,000 additional elementary school seats Downtown, something parents and advocates have been pushing for years.

But the DOE does not yet have a plan to build a new school, officials said Friday.

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