UPPER EAST SIDE — The Ella Baker School is the most coveted school in the neighborhood, with roughly 14 kids vying for each of its kindergarten seats during the last school year, according to Department of Education data.
At Ella Baker — a small school of about 320 students that champions hands-on learning and takes lots of class trips — about 363 families applied to the 26 available kindergarten seats during the 2015-2016 school year, according to DOE records obtained by DNAinfo through a Freedom of Information request.
The school, located at 317 E. 67th St. near First Avenue and St. Catherine's Park, is a non-zoned elementary school, which means families outside of the area are given the same preference as applicants living nearby.
Seats are limited, and the school is in high demand for parents looking for an alternative approach to learning, Ella Baker's principal Laura Garcia said.
"We are a project- and material-based school, where the kids can go deeply into a topic," Garcia told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday. "There are so many activities included in the curriculum. Kids go on trips, explore their ideas, research and do projects. It's very interactive.
"We're a small school so we don't have a whole lot of spots open," she continued. "Families who are here really love it, although it may not be for every family. The teachers are committed to this type of teaching and there is a sense of a strong community."
The student body is ethnically diverse and has consistently scored near the citywide average in state English Language Arts exams, but below the citywide average in state math exams, according to Insideschools.org.
Other schools popular among parents, according to the DOE's data from the 2015-2016 school year, include:
► East Side Elementary School, which admitted 75 students out of 376 families who applied, or what amounts to five applications per kindergarten seat.
► Lillie D. Blake school, which admitted 125 students out of 754 families who applied, or six applications per seat.
Read more about your local schools:
The map below shows the target number of seats at each school and the total number of applications received, regardless where a family ranked it.