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Kindergarten Waitlists Shrink 9 Percent, City Says

By Amy Zimmer | March 16, 2016 8:30am
 Liam Costello, on his first day of kindergarten at PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights.
Liam Costello, on his first day of kindergarten at PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

MANHATTAN — The number of students on kindergarten waitlists at their zoned schools dropped by roughly 9 percent this year — although the overall number of schools with waitlists increased — according to Department of Education figures released Tuesday.

There were 1,130 students placed on waitlists at 65 schools they were zoned for this year, compared to 1,239 students placed on waitlists for 51 schools last year, DOE figures show.

The drop was especially significant from three years ago, when there were more than 2,300 students on waitlists at 105 schools, but DOE officials said they will continue to use a variety of methods, such as rezonings and targeting new school construction in historically overcrowded areas to continue whittling away at the waitlists.

For the second straight year, District 20, which includes Sunset Park, Borough Park and Bay Ridge, had the most schools bursting at the seams, with eight schools having waitlists for zoned students.

Western Queens' District 24, which includes overcrowded schools in Corona, again placed second for most oversubscribed schools with seven of them.

Tying for third were several districts that each had five schools that wait-listed their zoned students: the Upper West Side’s District 3; District 15, spanning Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens to Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Sunset Park; and Northwest Queens’ District 30, which includes overcrowded schools in Woodside and Jackson Heights.

Borough Park’s P.S. 160 had the longest waitlist with 96 students, taking over that mantle from the Upper West Side’s P.S. 199, which saw its waitlist drop from more than 90 students to 30 despite its controversial rezoning that's being put on hold to address the school’s ballooning population.

In Brooklyn’s District 13, there was no waitlist at Brooklyn's Heights' P.S. 8, which also faced a heated rezoning. But two new schools that have become popular in recent years — especially for their dual-language programs — were on the list: Prospect Heights’ P.S. 9 and Clinton Hill’s P.S. 20. (Some of these students may have actually gotten into these school’s general education programs but could have been wait-listed for their dual-language programs if they ranked them higher, DOE officials noted.)

“We’re encouraged that the number of students on a zoned waitlist fell 9 percent—a great step in the right direction and we’ll continue working to ensure families have access to their zoned school,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement.

Overall, roughly 49,000 students, or 71 percent, got an offer from their first choice school, DOE officials noted. That percentage, however, was down by 1 point from the year before.

More than 7,200 — or 10 percent — of kindergarten applicants could not be offered any of the choices listed on their application.

Of these kids, 5,870 received offers to their zoned schools.

But for 1,367 students, or 2 percent, either space was not available in their zoned school or they reside in a choice district, so they received an offer to another school, according to the DOE.  This was the same percentage of students as last year.

DOE officials said they were particularly encouraged that the seven schools participating in its diversity pilot program were able to meet or exceed nearly every target.

At Fort Greene’s Academy of Arts and Letters in Brooklyn, for instance, 40 percent of the offers were to students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch this year, compared to only 11 percent of students currently enrolled in kindergarten.

All children who turn 5 in 2016 are guaranteed a placement offer for kindergarten.

Families who want to accept their offer must contact the school directly to make an appointment to pre-register by April 8.

Pre-registering does not prevent families from receiving an offer at a school where they are wait-listed.

Here are the schools with waitlists:


Zoned Waitlist Data for Kindergarten at NYC Schools

Please note these numbers include some students who have more than one zoned school as well as students who are wait-listed at a dual language program at their zoned school, but were accommodated at another school of their choice. When both of these are accounted for, the number of students on a zoned waitlist who did not receive an offer to any program they are zoned for is 948 compared to 1,083 last year, according to the DOE.