MANHATTAN — Almost half as many kids had to be waitlisted for kindergarten seats this year after the Department of Education put its application process online, school officials said as offer letters were sent out to families on Monday.
The number of kids stuck on a kindergarten waitlist dropped by nearly 50 percent — from about 2,300 students last year to 1,200 students this year — largely because of a streamlined system that allowed families to apply online to up to 20 schools at once, DOE officials said.
Waitlists have become a problem in many neighborhoods with growing numbers of young families, and remained an issue this year at schools like Battery Park City's P.S. 276, the Upper East Side's P.S. 267 and Long Island City's P.S. 78, which is in Queens' District 30. That overcrowded district, which also covers Astoria, Jackson Heights, Woodside and Sunnyside, had eight schools with waitlists, the city's largest number.
But the number of waitlisted kindergartners has been falling steadily, the DOE noted. About 60 schools had waitlists after the new Kindergarten Connect registration, down from 105 elementary schools with waitlists last year and 125 schools with waitlists the year before that.
“We're proud the waitlists have shortened and will continue our work to connect students with their zoned schools,” DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said in a statement.
The Department of Education released a list of schools with waitlists:
The DOE was able to place more than 70 percent of students — about 47,700 incoming kindergartners — in their top choice school.
But more than 10 percent of students — or some 7,200 — could not be offered a seat in any of the schools on their applications, officials said, noting that this mainly happened when families only listed one school.
The vast majority of those students were given offers to their zoned schools, even though they hadn't listed that school on their application, but more than 1,300 kids were shut out of their zoned schools because there wasn’t enough space or they lived in a “choice district” and did not have a zoned school. Those students were offered a seat elsewhere and will remain on waitlists for the schools they had hoped to attend, officials said.
Inwood parent Martha Langmuir was pleased when she went online Monday morning to find that her daughter, Rebekah, got her first choice, the Amistad Dual Language School in their district, which is a "choice" school rather than one of the area's assigned zoned schools.
“It was fairly easy," Langmuir said of using Kindergarten Connect, "but I know how to use a computer, and I had the time to visit all of these different schools."
She added, "If someone isn’t computer literate or if they don’t speak English fluently I imagine it would be really challenging."
All children who turn 5 years old in 2014 are guaranteed a placement for kindergarten, and school officials said they expected many waitlisted families to receive seats in the schools they wanted to attend.
Families who didn’t apply through Kindergarten Connect should visit schools in person to apply to start kindergarten this September, DOE officials said.