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Waitlisted Battery Park City Kindergarteners Will Go to Chinatown, DOE Says

Ashley London Taylor, right, a waitlisted P.S. 276 parent, said she was frustrated that officials did not have answers at the May 16, 2012 meeting.
Ashley London Taylor, right, a waitlisted P.S. 276 parent, said she was frustrated that officials did not have answers at the May 16, 2012 meeting.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

BATTERY PARK CITY — Dozens of waitlisted Battery Park City kindergarteners could be bused to school in Chinatown this fall, Department of Education officials said at a meeting Wednesday night.

While the DOE hopes some of the children waitlisted for P.S. 276 and P.S. 89 will win a spot over the next few weeks as some families move to gifted-and-talented or special-education seats, there will not be room for everyone, said Drew Patterson, the DOE's director of south Manhattan planning.

The leftover children likely will be sent to P.S. 1, at 8 Henry St., several blocks north of the Brooklyn Bridge, because that is the closest school with space available, Patterson said.

Anxious parents who turned out to Wednesday night's meeting hoping for a better solution to the waitlist problem called the city's plan "unacceptable."

"I don't think that is a viable option," said Ashley London Taylor, whose daughter is waitlisted for P.S. 276. "I think it's too far."

If Battery Park City children are sent more than half a mile away for kindergarten, the city either will provide a school bus or will run a shuttle from the children's zoned school to their new school outside the neighborhood, officials said.

Parents presented DOE officials with a 769-signature petition demanding longterm solutions to the problem of perennial kindergarten waitlists Downtown and asking that their children be kept close to home in the fall.

Many parents said they were frustrated that the DOE did not have concrete answers about what would happen to their children — and they were annoyed that the officials who organized Wednesday's meeting did not even know how many children were on each school's waitlist, because the lists are managed by each school individually.

Natalia Araujo, a Battery Park City resident whose son is waitlisted at P.S. 276, was angry that the city could not tell her the odds that her son ultimately would win a kindergarten seat there. If her son isn't going to get in, Araujo said she wants to get a second job as soon as possible to begin saving for private school.

"Do I have a chance or not?" Araujo asked. "It's unacceptable that you don't know, that you don't have any information."

Gentian Falstrom, the DOE's director of elementary school admissions, said she understood parents' concerns.

"This isn't how it's supposed to operate," Falstrom said of the admissions process. "I don't think anyone disputes that. … It's very frustrating. I know it's a really hard thing to hear."

The city will send out alternate offers in mid-June to families that are still on kindergarten waitlists, Falstrom said. Even if families accept that alternate offer, they can remain on their local school's waitlist and likely will have the chance to return in first grade, if they wish, Falstrom said.

Falstrom and Patterson declined to list other schools aside from P.S. 1 that could have room for Downtown children in the fall.

But kids likely will not be sent to P.S. 3 or P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village or P.S. 130 in Chinatown, because those schools have their own waitlists. Nearby schools that do not have waitlists include P.S. 126, P.S. 124 and P.S. 2, all in Chinatown, according to figures the DOE released last month.

Families with specific questions or concerns about kindergarten admissions can email es_enrollment@schools.nyc.gov.