STATEN ISLAND — For many top-rated and well-respected schools on Staten Island, seats in pre-K programs have gotten hard to come by.
Last year, many Staten Island schools received more than twice as many applications as there were seats, according to Department of Education records.
Since anybody can apply to a school for pre-K, even if they aren't zoned for it, seats can go fast, said Sam Pirozzolo, president of the District 31 Community Education Council.
"Pre-K has a limited number of seats," he said. "There’s zero guarantee that they'll be able to go there.”
For instance, in 2012, P.S. 50 in Oakwood had 345 applicants for only 54 pre-K seats — the highest number of applications on Staten Island, according to the DOE.
Pirozzolo advised parents to submit their pre-K application by the April 5 deadline to improve their child's chances of getting a spot.
“Parents need to be very proactive and on time," he said.
CHECK YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING YOUR CHILD INTO PRE-K
Another popular choice in the borough was P.S. 65, which received 152 applications for 36 seats in 2012, according to the DOE.
Parents in the Tompkinsville school attributed its popularity to the well-trained teachers, who they feel prepare kids well for kindergarten.
“The pre-K teachers are pretty astute at what they do,” said Andre McNair, 42, whose daughter attends the school.
P.S. 8 in Great Kills, which has consistently received A ratings from the DOE, received 187 applications for a total of 36 seats last year.
Parents at the school said they love the small, community-based environment the teachers foster.
“It’s small and very family orientated,” said Sheryl Lynch, of Great Kills, who has a fourth-grade daughter in the school. “The teachers know all the kids.”
Lynch said her elder daughter did not attend pre-K at the school, but she plans to apply for the school’s pre-K program for her 3-year-old daughter Logan.
“I love the school,” Lynch said.
Here are some of Staten Island's noteworthy public pre-K programs:
P.S. 8, the Shirlee Solomon School, 112 Lindenwood Rd.
One of the most sought-after, and highest rated, schools in the borough, P.S. 8’s pre-K program was commended by parents for its small class size and attentive teachers.
“The teachers are very nice,” said Robert George, 40, whose son attends pre-K. “The school seems very organized.”
George also lauded the addition of the gifted and talented program in the school and said he plans to keep his son there through fifth grade.
Other parents praised the community and family atmosphere of the school and said parents were very involved.
Last year, the school had 18 seats for both morning and afternoon pre-K classes.
P.S. 3, The Margaret Gioiosa School, 80 South Goff Ave.
This Pleasant Plains school is one of the most popular choices for pre-K programs on the South Shore of the borough. In 2012, the school had 296 applications for 54 spots — 18 seats each for a morning, afternoon and full-day class.
The school has been commended by the DOE for its supportive learning environment and constant communication with parents.
P.S. 65, The Academy of Innovative Learning, 98 Grant St.
Demand is high for this four-year-old school. Last year, the pre-K program had 152 applications for only 36 full-day spots.
The non-zoned school has become a popular choice because of the teachers' approachability and the good behavior they instill in kids. The big draw for many parents is the school’s integration of music, art and dance early on in the curriculum.
“It’s just dumb luck that we got in,” Jay Montgomery, who founded the Harbor Lights Theater Company with his wife and sent his daughter to pre-K, previously told DNAinfo.com New York. “It’s a great school.”
P.S. 29, Bardwell School, 1581 Victory Boulevard
The Castleton Corners school had the second highest number of pre-K applications of any school on Staten Island in 2012, with 337 applications for only 18 full-day seats.
The school is known for its gifted programs, open to all students around Staten Island, and parents have said teachers are very attentive and involved in the students' learning.
“The school is very proactive with parents via email, the teachers show a great interest in each child and they have many extracurricular activities available for the families to engage in,” a parent wrote about the school on greatschools.org.