CROWN HEIGHTS — For mom Bryant Archie, trusting her daughter Ellie to the brand-new pre-K program at P.S. 705 was easy — it was that, or nothing.
"We all ranked and included other schools in our initial list — that’s the smart, strategic thing to do," Archie said of the process. "But given the demand...a lot of us were just placed in a situation where if you want them to go to pre-K, this is the option you have now."
Archie wound up being pleased with P.S. 705, but parents in Crown Heights and Prospect Heights' District 17 have historically complained about having too few pre-K options. Families have often been left weighing unfavorable odds at popular programs against better odds at schools that are unknown quantities.
Fortunately, those choices are about to get better, with more seats opening in the district's most popular pre-K programs and new pre-K programs opening in the district's most promising new schools.
"It’s a great class and the team is wonderful," said P.S. 316 PTA president Samantha Bernardine of the school's pre-K program, which will open a second class with 20 new seats this fall.
"We have SMART boards where students get to go up and teach the class. They’re building their self-esteem and their confidence. It’s not just academics, it’s the fun part."
Crown Heights' P.S. 770 just announced it will add pre-K for the coming year, and P.S. 705 in Prospect Heights already has one of the most buzzed-about programs in the neighborhood.
"She’s been happy from Day 1," Archie said of her daughter's Spanish-English dual-language program. "She’s excited to learn, to go to school, to be a part of her class."
Here are some of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights' noteworthy public pre-K programs:
P.S. 316, Elijah Stroud, 750 Classon Ave.
Despite a dip in P.S. 316's recent Department of Education report card grade, competition is still stiff for a seat at the school, among the oldest and most trusted institutions in the neighborhood. Fortunately for new parents, the odds are about to tip in their favor — the school is adding a second pre-K class with space for 18 to 20 children this fall.
"We just got approved for a second pre-K for the coming school year," Bernardine said. "We have a dynamic team of teachers who really are invested in the development of the students."
P.S. 770, New American Academy, 60 E. 94th St.
Securing a seat at the New American Academy was never easy, and snagging one of the roughly 30 just-announced pre-K spots won't be any easier in a neighborhood where demand is high and choices are few. Failing elementary school P.S. 398, which shares the same building, had more than twice as many applicants for its 2012-13 pre-K classes as it had seats.
P.S. 705, Brooklyn Arts and Science Elementary, 443 St. Marks Ave.
When the DOE voted to shutter P.S. 22 last year, many parents said their primary concern was how to make up for the 36 pre-K seats that would disappear with the school.
But if Archie and parents like her are any indication, those students have found a happy home at the new elementary school, P.S. 705, which took P.S. 22's place.
"These are kids and parents that we’ve been walking past on the block for the last three years, so we went into the school year knowing a third to half of Ellie’s class," Archie said.