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Dozens of Children on Waitlist for P.S. 234 Could Be Bused to Chinatown

By Julie Shapiro | April 27, 2010 3:17pm | Updated on April 27, 2010 7:56pm
Some of the 55 children waitlisted for P.S. 234, above, may be bused to schools in Chinatown instead.
Some of the 55 children waitlisted for P.S. 234, above, may be bused to schools in Chinatown instead.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

TRIBECA — Dozens of children waitlisted for P.S. 234 in TriBeCa may have to go to elementary school in Chinatown instead.

The perennially popular TriBeCa school did not have room for all the kindergarteners who applied this year and held a lottery to decide who could attend.

As of last week, 55 children were still on P.S. 234’s waitlist for next fall.  About 20 of those kids will get a seat in one of Lower Manhattan’s other schools, but the rest may be bused to Chinatown, said Elizabeth Rose, a portfolio planning director for the education department.

“There has to be a better solution than putting 4- and 5-year-olds on a bus every day and sending them out of the neighborhood,” said Jim St. Andre, whose son is No. 49 on the P.S. 234 waitlist.

Rose first mentioned busing children to Chinatown at a meeting of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s School Overcrowding Task Force last Thursday.

Kindergarten spaces are available in P.S. 1 on Henry Street, P.S. 42 on Hester Street and P.S. 126 on Catherine Street, Rose said.

The alternative to the Chinatown schools would be to open a fourth kindergarten class at the Spruce Street School, Rose said. Spruce opened last fall with just kindergarten classes in Tweed Courthouse and will move to its permanent building in the base of Forest City Ratner’s Beekman Tower in fall 2011.

St. Andre said he would rather send his son to the Spruce Street School, a five-minute walk from his home, than to a school in Chinatown.

But Spruce parents fear that adding a fourth kindergarten class will overcrowd their fledgling school.

Spruce is designed to be a K-8 with just two classes per grade. Opening a fourth kindergarten could prevent Spruce from opening its middle school, parents said.

Speaker Silver and Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee also urged the DOE not to open a fourth kindergarten at Spruce.

Rose acknowledged last week that Spruce might not have room for a middle school if it adds the extra class, but she said it is also important for all Lower Manhattan kindergarteners to get seats near their home. 

The city will make a decision in the next few weeks.

The Dept. of Education has tentatively scheduled an information session May 11 for waitlisted P.S. 234 parents. The DOE will mail alternate seat offers to those families the week of May 17, Rose said.