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Overflow of Brooklyn Heights Pre-K Applicants Find Spots in Vinegar Hill

By Janet Upadhye | March 1, 2013 12:40pm

VINEGAR HILL — Last year less than 9 percent of children who applied to P.S. 8's pre-K program in Brooklyn Heights were accepted. And all but one had siblings already attending the school.

"It is extremely competitive," said local mom, Kendra Williamson. "I moved to DUMBO when I was pregnant so that my son would be zoned for this school."

P.S. 8's draw is understandable with a newly established Glee Club, an arts partnership with the Guggenheim Museum and a well-regarded student newspaper. But with the families of more than 400 4-year-olds vying for 36 pre-K seats in 2012, the odds of admission are slim.


However, there is another public pre-K program in the area, at the oft-overlooked P.S. 307 in Vinegar Hill. With a new principal, the school is quickly emerging from a history of high teacher turnover, low attendance and disciplinary problems.

DNAinfo.com New York ranked sought-after public pre-K programs based on their 2012 admission rates.
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Celine Huang

"I tell parents that don't get into P.S. 8 to take a look at P.S. 307," said one Brooklyn Heights mom. "I'm trying to get people to notice."

Roberta Davenport, P.S. 307's principal, has recently noticed higher applicant rates and increased interest in her school.

"Something interesting and exciting is happening here," she said. "We are very quietly doing beautiful work with the kids and we are committed to building a quality program."

When Davenport arrived at the school, many of the lights didn't work and the walls were grim and bare. She immediately replaced bulbs and featured student artwork. She is building relationships with the DUMBO arts community and has plans to renovate the stage in the auditorium to create a real place to show student talent.

And with 28 pre-K spots and only 53 applicants last year, the odds of admission at this school are much better than at P.S. 8.

P.S. 8, Robert Fulton, 37 Hicks St.

Students attending the pre-K program at P.S. 8 work on letter recognition, sounds and numbers, according to the parents.

"We love our pre-K teacher," one parent said.

P.S. 8 will have 36 pre-K seats this fall.

P.S. 307, Daniel Hale Williams, 209 York St.

The pre-K program at P.S. 307 focuses on project-based learning, oral development, motor skills and socialization. Students spend a lot of time using arts and crafts to learn ideas and concepts. They also have the opportunity to learn Mandarin.

P.S. 307 will have 28 pre-K seats this fall.