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Williamsburg and Greenpoint Offer Array of Schools Without Waitlists

By Meredith Hoffman | February 11, 2013 6:43am

WILLIAMSBURG — Parents enrolling their kids in North Brooklyn's public elementary schools are, in one way, a lucky bunch — they get to avoid the kindergarten waitlists that abound in other parts of the city.

"District 14 is an exceptionally unusual district in that there are no waitlists in any of the schools," said Brooke Parker, public school advocate, Williamsburg parent and former Community Education Council member, "so parents can send their kids anywhere in the district."

Whether you prefer a "popular" school, a longtime community mainstay or a brand-new model, Williamsburg and Greenpoint have high-performing options that run the gamut.

Certain schools are more "popular with middle-class parents," but others that serve mainly students under the poverty line are "excellent" but overlooked, Parker noted, adding, "Schools can be self-segregating."

Parker says that hot options include P.S. 84 (where she sends her child), P.S. 132, P.S. 34, P.S. 31, P.S. 110 and P.S. 414.

That list includes just-opened options like P.S. 414 Brooklyn Arbor School, which parents say brings new tactics to young children's education.

"There's a green aspect to their science.... Each class has its own garden, and each classroom is named after a tree," said parent Will Croxton, who transferred his child from P.S. 132 to the Brooklyn Arbor in the fall of 2012 for a vibe more in keeping with the Montessori school his child attended for preschool.

"The classes are small — it's well funded," Croxton said, praising the school's hands-on approach. 

Meanwhile, some longtime public schools in the area say they have no plans to change their educational philosophies in response to the recent influx of wealthier residents in the area.

"People who are willing to bring their kids here, that's great, but we're not going to change our ways just to draw some bridge crosser," said Brian DeVale, principal of the 39-year-old P.S. 257, a magnet school with a robust arts program where 88 percent of the students live below the poverty line. "I'm not going to change my ways just because someone from Manhattan wants to move here."

P.S. 84, Magnet School for the Visual Arts, 250 Berry St.

The popular P.S. 84 is a magnet school for the arts and sciences. An added perk is active Principal Sereida Rodriguez, who spearheaded a robust donation drive after Hurricane Sandy and a new program for autistic students to receive special attention in small classes. 

P.S. 414, Brooklyn Arbor School, 325 S. Fourth St.

Opened in fall 2012 by Principal Eva Irizarry, the Brooklyn Arbor School offers small hands-on, eco-focused classes, and its innovative model has already drawn significant interest from parents. The school started with grades K-2 and is expanding to the third grade in fall 2013. This new elementary school is growing as P.S. 15 Roberto Clemente is phased out of the building.

P.S. 257, John Hylan, 60 Cook St.

With an outspoken, devoted principal in Brian DeVale, P.S. 257 has a long history in the community, and three years ago also became a magnet school with a focus on the performing arts. The school serves all of its students free lunch, since 88 percent of them fall at or below the poverty level. 

P.S. 132, The Conselyea School, 320 Manhattan Ave.

P.S. 132 is a large public school with a spirited band and an active PTA.

P.S. 31, Samuel F. Dupont, 75 Meserole Ave.

P.S. 31 is known for being a traditional school with rigorous academics and a magnet program.

P.S. 110, The Monitor School, 124 Monitor St.

This Greenpoint school has an active community that has its own Facebook page. Parents prize its frequent family nights, progressive curriculum and French-English dual-language program.