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Prestigious UES School Loses a Second-Grade Class

 Next year's second grade will be condensed from four to three classes due to budget constraints.
Next year's second grade will be condensed from four to three classes due to budget constraints.
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DNAinfo/Lindsay Armstrong

UPPER EAST SIDE — A prestigious elementary school will lose one of its second-grade classes next school year, leading to larger class sizes at the highly sought-after school. 

P.S. 290, a kindergarten through fifth-grade school on East 82nd Street, will reduce its rising second grade from four to three classes, the school's principal announced to parents in an email Wednesday night.

As a result, students will be re-grouped into larger classes of about 32 each, after this year's first grade was broken down into classes about 25 each, school officials said. Only three teachers will be funded for the grade for the coming school year, after the DOE allocated funding for four teachers in the first grade for the 2013-'14 school year.

The decision was due to a decrease in funding from the DOE, which allocates funds to schools based on the number of students, school officials said. 

The DOE caps class size at 32 students. If additional students enroll in the grade between now and the start of the school year, they will be sent to other area schools, school officials said.

About 30 parents attended a last-minute meeting Thursday to discuss the plan. The school told parents that it is looking into ways to provide more support to these upsized classrooms, including hiring teacher’s aides with funds provided by P.S. 290’s active Parent Teacher Association.

P.S. 290 faced a similar issue last year when the current fourth grade was reduced from five to four classes.

Maria Houvilainen, who has two children at P.S. 290, has experienced class down-sizing twice at the school.

“I feel a little better after the meeting, but I'm still concerned," she said. "My older son is in the fourth grade, and this happened to his class last year, so we struck the jackpot twice."

Although she had concerns about the change, Houvilainen said she didn't feel her older son’s academics had suffered in the larger class.

“I’m very happy with the school overall,” said. “It’s the reason we moved here, and I wouldn’t move them to a different school.”

Some parents questioned why the school’s enrollment was low enough to result in funding cuts when P.S. 290 has consistently had a waitlist for its kindergarten program. Like Houvilainen, other parents noted that they moved to the area specifically to send their children to the school.

The DOE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.