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Village Parents Worry About Classroom Overcrowding on First Day of School

By Andrea Swalec | September 6, 2012 1:54pm

MANHATTAN — As families poured into Village elementary schools on the first day of classes Thursday morning, many parents said crowded classrooms were their main concern heading into the school year. 

Maria Cresci, the mother of two children who attend P.S. 41 on West 11th Street, said she loved the school but was alarmed to find that her daughter's fourth-grade class was packed with 30 students.

"We're really happy with the teachers here," she said, "but you can't teach the same with 30 kids as you could with 16." 

At P.S. 3 on Hudson Street — the other public elementary school zoned for Village families — parent Belynda Jones anxiously awaited news on how many classmates her 5-year-old son Diallo would have in his first-grade class. 

"He needs more individual attention," she said, "and for a big class with just one teacher, there's just not enough." 

It was not immediately clear how many students were in her son's class, though last year the school barely exceeded its nearly 800-student limit.

The District 2 Community Education Council has long called for additional capacity in the district, which covers lower Manhattan, Midtown and the Upper East Side. 

As of last September, P.S. 3 had 797 students, slightly exceeding its 787-student capacity, according to DOE data.

P.S. 41 had 780 students, exceeding its 661-student capacity by a whopping 18 percent.

Enrollment data for this school year was not immediately available.

New housing in the Village — like the complex being built on the former St. Vincent's Hospital site — will bring more children to the area and increase the need for more schools seats, parents said. 

"If you're building a new development with three-bedroom homes, you need to think about schools and parks and playgrounds," said Kirsty Mogensen, a West Village resident whose 7-year-old daughter started third grade at P.S. 3 on Thursday. 

But some parents said they had faith their schools could work well with the resources they had. 

"We're waiting to see how it works out and just hoping for the best," said Erin Thanik, whose 9-year-old daughter started fourth grade at P.S. 41 in a class filled with 30 students. 

Additionally, three new schools are in the works for the lower west side of Manhattan. 

In Chelsea, the Foundling elementary school is set to open at Sixth Avenue at West 17th Street in September 2014, DNAinfo.com New York reported. 

In the West Village, the city is planning to buy a state-owned building at 75 Morton St. and build a school there. 

And, in Hudson Square, Trinity Real Estate said it is planning a 444-seat school at the base of a residential building on the block bordered by Sixth Avenue, Canal Street, Varick Street and Grand Street.