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Popular Greenwich Village Schools Predict Long Waitlists

By Andrea Swalec | February 11, 2013 6:36am

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Competition for kindergarten seats in one of the most sought-after public elementary schools in the city is shaping up to be fierce again for the 2013-2014 school year.

P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village — which had 55 children on its waitlist for the 2012-2013 term, more than at any other school in Manhattan — is expecting strong interest once again in its well-rounded curriculum and long list of PTA-funded offerings like chess instruction.

"We're predicting [the waitlist] will be the same as last year, if not longer," Principal Kelly Shannon said, noting she expects the Department of Education will admit five packed kindergarten classes of about 27 students each, for a total capacity of approximately 135 kids.

The number of open seats at P.S. 41 has already been cut by 55 to make room for children who will automatically be admitted because their older siblings go to the school.

"That's the largest [number of incoming siblings] we've ever had," parent coordinator Michele Farinet said.

West Village dad Matt Widman, who has a fifth-grader at P.S. 41 and two other daughters who have graduated, said applying to the elementary school was worth the uncertainty.

"No school is perfect, but this is about as good as you can get," he said, praising the school's art and extracurricular programs. "The kids here love going to school."

P.S. 3, the second elementary school zoned for families in Greenwich Village, the West Village, the Meatpacking District and SoHo for fall 2013, had a waitlist last year of more than 10 students, according to the District 2 Community Education Council, a volunteer panel of parents that advises the DOE.

Information on how many seats the school, which features an integrated arts curriculum, may have in the fall and how long the waitlist is expected to be was not immediately available.

Adding to the waitlist anxiety, on Jan. 23 school officials redrew the school zone lines that will apply starting with the 2014-2015 school year, eliminating residents' unique option to name either P.S. 3 or P.S. 41 as their first-choice school.

The changes to the school zones, approved by the District 2 Community Education Council, will send children in the south of the current shared P.S. 3/P.S. 41 zone to P.S. 3. Kids in the north will be sent to P.S. 41, while those in the far north will be redistricted to Chelsea schools.

Supporters of the zone-split plan say it will divide school seats more equally, reducing overcrowding, and will help the two schools to more accurately plan their budgets.

But other parents say they would prefer to retain the ability to choose where to send their children, and they question whether the DOE is taking factors like new construction into account.

Despite waitlists and changes to school zone lines in subsequent school years, P.S. 41's principal assured families they would be placed into a top-notch kindergarten program.

"The end result is…you're eventually going to get into a wonderful zoned school," Shannon said.

Here are more details on Greenwich Village's two public elementary schools:

P.S. 41, Greenwich Village School, 116 W. 11th St.

This Village school features a new green roof to teach students about sustainability, has its own student rock band and teaches kindergartners how to play chess. During the 2012-2013 school year, the DOE packed 803 children into a building recommended to fit 650 students, said Principal Kelly Shannon, who has been at the school for 18 years.

P.S. 3, Charrette School, 490 Hudson St.

Located in the West Village at Grove Street, P.S. 3 values active learning and education through the arts. The school has art and dance teachers, a room full of instruments and a PTA-funded musician who works three days a week. Principal Lisa Siegman, who has led the school for 11 years, told DNAinfo.com New York that maintaining P.S. 3's 150-year-old building is one of the school's biggest challenges.