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Upper East Side Rezoning Creates Breathing Room for Popular Schools

By DNAinfo Staff on February 11, 2013 6:38am

UPPER EAST SIDE — Known for its strong public schools and well-funded PTAs, the Upper East Side offers plenty of good choices for families who don't want to send their kids to private school.

And this year, a major rezoning plan is creating extra breathing room in one of the neighborhood's overcrowded elementary schools, while funneling more students into a school that is currently under-enrolled.

The Department of Education's plan shrank the zone for P.S. 183 Robert Louis Stevenson School for Discovery on East 66th Street, which has seen waitlists of zoned students in the past, and enlarged the zone for P.S. 267 East Side Elementary School on East 63rd Street, which has struggled to attract kids, partly because of a DOE enrollment glitch.

While P.S. 267 just opened in 2010, the school has quickly drawn praise from a loyal, though small, group of parents who say they are proud their kids have art, gym and music classes, along with what they say is individualized attention that rivals nearby private schools.

"What's so amazing about P.S. 267?" asked Matthew Chook, co-president of the school's PTA. "I think it starts with our leader, who is our principal, Madea McEvoy. She's created a wonderful learning environment that's warm, inviting and safe."

Neighboring P.S. 183 is lauded for its multicultural atmosphere and arts program, which parents say incorporates field trips to local museums. Parents added that the school's teachers are warm and welcoming.

"I love it," said Joslin Paradise, whose 5-year-old Mariel attends kindergarten at P.S. 183. "I'm very happy here."

Other public schools that have attracted interest from local parents include P.S. 198 Isidor and Ida Straus on Third Avenue near East 96th Street, where a new principal is emphasizing faculty development.

Also popular is P.S. 527, the School for Social Action on East 91st Street, which begins Spanish-language instruction in kindergarten.

The recent Upper East Side rezoning will not force any current students to switch schools, and younger siblings of current students will be grandfathered into their older siblings' schools, according to the DOE.

Suzanne, who has two children at P.S. 183, said she hoped the rezoning would reduce class sizes at the packed school.

"His class has 32 kids," she said of her son. "So they have to do something."

P.S. 527, School for Social Action, 323 E. 91st St.

This school sparked controversy with its allegedly "revolutionary"-sounding name, but parents like this neighborhood newcomer's global studies-centric approach. Led by veteran gifted educator Daniel McCormick, the school starts to teach children Spanish in kindergarten.

P.S. 198, Isidor and Ida Straus School, 1700 Third Ave.

P.S. 198 has had a tough couple of years, slipping from a B to a C to a D grade on its city progress report, according to Department of Education statistics. But a new principal — Nancy Cabrero — plans to recharge the school and set it on the path to academic excellence. Cabrero said she plans to offer development workshops for her staff at Columbia Teacher's College and increase the school's connection to its parents.

P.S. 77, Lower Lab School, 1700 Third Ave.

In the past, the gifted and talented school has been criticized for feeling segregated from co-located P.S. 198, but Principal Mara Ratesic Koetke has been collaborating more and more with its neighbor, according to Insideschools and P.S. 198's principal. With focus on thoroughness rather than quickness, students can achieve feats such as "grappling with two-variable algebraic equations" by fifth grade, the website notes.

Hunter College Elementary School, 71 E. 94th St.

Billed by Insideschools as one of the city's "most sought after" gifted institutions, Hunter requires applicants to take an IQ test. Amenities at this Manhattan student-only school, run by Principal Randy Collins, include chess and the  Wellness in the Schools Cook for Kids program, which serves made-from-scratch meals at the school cafeteria, according to the initiative's website.

P.S. 151, Yorkville Community School, 421 E. 88th St.

Kids at P.S. 151 study academic topics in the context of their community. For example, kids learn about food by visiting local eateries and coming up with their own restaurant ideas, Insideschools reported. And partnerships with Asphalt Green and the 92nd Street Y enable kids at the school — led by Principal Samantha Kaplan — to get arts and athletics instruction, the site notes.

P.S. 183, Robert Louis Stevenson School for Discovery, 419 E. 66th St.

Parents love this school's arts program, which includes trips to area museums as well as classroom instruction. The school, led by Principal Tara Napoleoni, is also a favorite with families because they say the staff and teachers communicate effectively.

P.S. 267, East Side Elementary School, 213 E. 63rd St.

Though a DOE enrollment glitch has kept student rosters slim, parents love the individualized attention kids at this school receive, which families say rivals the environment of area private schools. In addition, P.S. 267 has offerings such as art and music.