UWS School Sees Huge Spike in Kindergarten Applications

By Emily Frost on February 6, 2014 6:16pm 

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 There are a record number of kindergarten applications at P.S. 199, which could cause a headache for staff, said CEC members. 
P.S. 199 Sees Record Number of Kindergarten Applications
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A Lincoln Square elementary school that's been consistently popular in the neighborhood for its high test scores has seen a massive surge in the number of kindergarten applications this year, PTA President Eric Shuffler said.

P.S. 199 had received 589 applications for 148 spots as of Wednesday, with the deadline for application approaching on Feb. 14, said CEC 3 president Joe Fiordaliso, who is also a parent at the school.

"It is way more than we normally get," said PTA president Eric Shuffler at a CEC meeting Wednesday night, noting that the school's waitlist typically has fewer than 100 applicants.

In 2013, there were only 39 children waitlisted at P.S. 199 and just 45 in 2012, according to DOE records. 

In September, P.S. 199 was the only school in Manhattan — and just one of 286 schools across the nation — to receive the National Blue Ribbon School Award.

CEC 3 members argued that the DOE's controversial new application process, Kindergarten Connect, in which parents can list up to 20 schools as choices, spurred the massive increase.

Under the new system, school administrative staff would be forced to verify far more addresses, a process education leaders said is creating confusion at schools. 

"I’m incensed that we are going to cripple the clerical staff of our schools," Fiordaliso said.

Superintendent Ilene Altschul downplayed the concern, asserting that staff would have to verify the same number of addresses as before.

But, she admitted, "I’m not trying to say this will go smoothly without any kinks."

In other education news: 

  • P.S. 452 is experiencing a large influx in the demand for school tours, Altschul said. "[P.S.] 452 does not have the capacity to give tours to all of these people," she said, without specifying how many tours were requested. The peak in interest also included requests from local real estate agents, who asked for visits so that they will "be able to sell the school" but were denied tours, Altschul said. CEC 3 representative Noah Gotbaum linked the increased demand to the Kindergarten Connect program, noting that the process of parents picking 20 schools was problematic. "How are parents supposed to select and choose 20 [schools] when the parents can’t visit the schools?" he said. The DOE did not return a request for comment, but P.S. 452 Principal Scott Parker acknowledged receiving many inquiries. "We do receive calls from many interested people who live outside of our zone," he wrote in an email. "We even receive inquiries from folks (and/or their real estate agents) who are considering a move to the zone."

 

  • Members of the P.S. 87 school community are again concerned about their dual-language program after it narrowly escaped being cut last summer. The West 78th Street elementary school has five Spanish classes, one in each grade except for fifth grade, and risked losing its dual-language teachers because of budget cuts. The instructors are the newest in the school and would be cut if the budget is threatened again, Fiordaliso said. "If they experience a budget bump again they would be left without instructors," he said, adding that the school is working on possible solutions. 

 

  • The principal at P.S. 180 in Morningside Heights, a K-8 school also known as the Hugo Newman College Preparatory School, announced he was leaving in late January. Peter L. McFarlane spent 17 years as the school's principal. He is departing to become the Senior Program Director of School Innovation for the New York State Department of Education’s Regents Research Fund, he said in a letter to the school community. 
     
  • The principal at West Side Collaborative middle school on West 96th Street and West End Avenue is retiring, Altschul said. Jeanne Rotunda's retirement will be effective as of Feb. 24. Principal Rotunda did not return a request for comment regarding her departure. 

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