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DOE Cuts 25 Kindergarten Seats at Brooklyn Heights School

By Janet Upadhye | April 1, 2015 7:34am
 The Brooklyn Heights elementary school has been overcrowded for years and needs more space, parents say.
The Brooklyn Heights elementary school has been overcrowded for years and needs more space, parents say.
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DUMBONYC

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Department of Education's decision to cut a full kindergarten class from P.S. 8 will result in a waiting list at the overcrowded school for the first time in its history, parents fear.

The school, which currently has six kindergarten classes with space for 150 students, will eliminate 25 seats in the 2015-16 school year — and there are currently 207 applications for kindergarten, according to parents and members of the PTA.

Kids with older siblings already at the school will have priority and the rest of the spots will be assigned by a lottery, with the remaining kids placed on a waitlist, according to David Goldsmith, president of the Community Education Council for District 13, which includes P.S. 8.

Since kindergarten offers have not been finalized the DOE has not officially determined which schools will have waitlists.

Mary Kim, who has lived three blocks from the school for 10 years, is worried that her 4-year-old son will be waitlisted.

"I am very concerned," she said. "Especially since preference is given to children with siblings that are already at the school and my son does not have one.

"It is possible that they will try to ship my son out of the neighborhood when we live just blocks away."

Parents will be notified early April if their child was selected in the lottery.

But the situation becomes more dire each year with a growing amount of residents moving to the neighborhood. It is estimated that about 3,750 new housing units will be developed in the area through 2017, according to advocacy group Downtown Brooklyn School Solutions.

In past years the school has taken several measures to battle overcrowding, including building an annex to provide more space, taking over drama and dance rooms, combining the fourth and fifth grade lunch periods and most recently eliminating the pre-K program altogether.

But parents say the problem is only getting worse. Some are even asking that all residential construction be halted until the DOE comes up with schooling options to meet the growing need.

"This is not just a P.S. 8 problem," parents wrote in a letter to the DOE and their local politicians.

"Overcapacity is a larger community problem that needs to be addressed."