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Number of Elementary School Waitlists Grows on Upper West Side, Data Show

By Emily Frost | March 16, 2016 6:22pm
 P.S. 87, left, and P.S. 199, right, both have waitlists this year.
P.S. 87, left, and P.S. 199, right, both have waitlists this year.
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DNAinfo/Emily Frost

UPPER WEST SIDE — Five local elementary schools have waitlists this year, including the most popular and crowded schools, marking an increase over last year, according to Department of Education figures. 

One school known for waitlists so high that the DOE opened a new school to accommodate families saw its waitlist grow yet again, while another that had the highest waitlist in the city last year saw its drop, the figures showed.

According to DOE data: 

► P.S. 199 on West 70th Street has 30 students on its waitlist, compared with 93 last year, which was the longest in the city.

► P.S. 87 on West 78th Street has 34 students on its waitlist, compared to 25 last year. 

► P.S. 9 on West 84th Street has a waitlist of 19 students this year. Last year, when the waitlists were first announced, the school didn't have one. But the DOE later added a class to accommodate overflow.

► P.S. 75 on West End Avenue near West 96th Street had a waitlist of fewer than 10 students. (The DOE did not release the exact number to protect student privacy, it said.) 

► P.S. 180 on West 120th Street also had a waitlist of fewer than 10 students. 

Last year at P.S. 199, the DOE added a dozen kindergarten spots at the last minute, to the anger of some parents and PTA members who said the school is too crowded to be safe, 

The school housed 904 students this year in a building designated for 738 students, and during a fire drill students were delayed in leaving the building because of crowding in the hallways. 

"We are encouraged that the waitlist at P.S. 199 dropped 68 percent from last year," said DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield.

PTA Co-Presidents at the school, Andrea Steinkamp and Victoria Micalizzi, also said they were happy to see the waitlist had gone down. 

"We're relieved, but cautious — the huge wait list has been a drain on our school," they said in an email, adding that they're concerned about the existing school community. 

"There has been very little discussion of resources to help us manage the existing over-capacity."

Parents and education leaders were also angry last year when the DOE announced it would add kindergarten classes at P.S. 87 and P.S. 9 to accommodate each school's waitlist. 

Community Education Council 3 President Joe Fiordaliso called the move "beyond the pale" and not the way to address systemic overcrowding in the district. 

The overcrowding at certain schools, specifically P.S. 199, led to proposals to redraw zoning lines last fall. Ultimately, the DOE did not put forward a plan for the CEC to vote on.

The DOE has said that while some catchment areas are overcrowded, there is no need for additional seats in the district beyond the 692 coming online in 2018, when the Riverside Center school opens at 21 West End Ave. 

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