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Panel Eliminates Village Parents' Choice Between P.S. 3 and P.S. 41

By Andrea Swalec | January 24, 2013 7:58pm

CHELSEA — Village parents are soon going to lose their ability to choose between two popular elementary schools for their children.

A panel voted Wednesday night to split the long-shared zone for P.S. 3 and P.S. 41 into two smaller zones, with families on the north end going to P.S. 41 on West 11th Street and those on the south end going to P.S. 3 on Hudson Street.

The change, which will take effect in the fall of 2014, aims to control overcrowding and strengthen each school, according to the Community Education Council for District 2, which voted 6 to 4 in favor of plan. The split will affect families living in Greenwich Village, the West Village, the Meatpacking District, Hudson Square and part of SoHo

CEC member Michael Markowitz, who supported splitting the zones, said the division was necessary to shrink class sizes at P.S. 41, which had a 127 percent utilization rate in 2012.

"It's untenable [now] for P.S. 41 to keep providing the level of education that previous families have enjoyed," he said at the CEC meeting, held at P.S. 33 in Chelsea.

Known for being an "alternative" school with an integrated arts curriculum, P.S. 3 was less crowded in 2012 than more traditional P.S. 41, with a 108 percent utilization rate.

Despite being hard on some families, the split was a "necessary step," P.S. 41 principal Kelly Shannon said.

But some P.S. 3 parents, who said having the option of two schools allowed parents to find the best fit for their child, weren't convinced that dividing the zone would reduce class sizes.

"There isn't one good reason for this aside from making enrollment easier," parent Liz Craig said, suggesting the CEC instead set class size caps to control overcrowding.

P.S. 3 parent-teacher association co-chair Nick Gottlieb called the split decision a "traumatic act" for families, unnecessarily dividing residents and detracting attention from the need for the city to devote more money to schools.

"What the DOE has done is create a shell game and smoke screen that's pitted two communities against each other," he said.

Additionally, the CEC decided Wednesday to tweak the placement of the dividing line between the P.S. 3 and P.S. 41 zones.

At the request of Westbeth Artists' Housing residents, the CEC will include an additional portion of the Meatpacking District in the P.S. 3 zone. The exact location of the dividing line will be determined at a future meeting.