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Popular Downtown Schools Face Kindergarten Lotteries Once Again

By Irene Plagianos | February 14, 2013 5:35pm

LOWER MANHATTAN — Downtown's popular elementary schools will face kindergarten waitlists once again this year.

With two weeks left for families to pre-register for kindergarten, TriBeCa's P.S. 234 and Battery Park City's P.S. 276 already have far more applications than seats and will have to hold lotteries this spring, school officials said.

P.S. 234, at 292 Greenwich St., has 166 youngsters signed up for kindergarten for the fall of 2013, well over the 125-student limit, said Magda Lenski, the school's parent coordinator.

And at least 50 of the kids who applied are siblings of current P.S. 234 students, which means they will automatically get one of the coveted seats, leaving fewer available for the remaining applicants.

Last year, P.S. 234 was able to open a sixth kindergarten class to accommodate extra students, but that won’t be possible this year, Lenski said.

“We simply don’t have the space,” she said. “It’s sad, and it’s a trend every year thanks to poor planning by the Department of Education.”

P.S. 276, 55 Battery Place, is facing an even bigger crush of incoming students — more than 130 kids have applied for a spot in the school, which was designed to serve just 75 kindergartners.

P.S. 276’s parent coordinator Erica Weldon said she expects at least another 20 kids to pre-register for kindergarten before the city’s March 1 application deadline.

“We’re so happy so many families want to be apart of our school,” Weldon said. “But it’s a shame that we’re in this situation.”

The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Downtown parents have long complained about overcrowding in their public elementary schools.

To make extra space for kindergarten classes, P.S. 276 Principal Terri Ruyter recently suggested ending the school's pre-K program, which takes up two classrooms.

The DOE will make a final decision on P.S. 276's pre-K program.

In November, frustrated P.S. 276 parents started a petition to limit the school to just three kindergarten classes in the fall of 2013. Last year, the school took in five kindergarten classes, leading parents to worry that overcrowding will force the school to close its music and science rooms.

The new Peck Slip School, which opened last year in temporary space in Tweed Courthouse, currently has 13 students pre-registered for kindergarten, with a capacity of 50 kids.

The Spruce Street School, 12 Spruce St., has 50 students pre-registered for kindergarten, which is right in line with the school's 50-student capacity.

And P.S. 89, 201 Warren St., has 61 students pre-registered so far, with a kindergarten capacity fo 75 students.

Schools with too many kindergarten applicants will hold a lottery in March, and parents will be notified of their child's acceptance or waitlist number in early April.