UPPER WEST SIDE — A West 61st Street elementary school will be the first in the district to give priority to students who receive free or reduced-price lunches, officials announced Thursday.
P.S. 452 will be the 22nd school in the city to join the Department of Education's Diversity in Admissions program, in which the school will give qualifying students priority over all other applicants, after all of the school's zoned students are admitted.
The factors that qualify students for the program are decided on a school-by-school basis, with some giving priority to English Language Learners and others designating students who were in the welfare system or had an incarcerated parent.
However, the majority of the schools participating in the program are offering priority enrollment for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, the DOE said.
The new admissions policy will take effect at P.S. 452 next year, principal David Scott Parker said.
The school's most recent enrollment numbers, from the 2016-'17 school year, show that nearly 10 percent of students at P.S. 452 qualified for free or reduced lunch.
The school's demographic breakdown was 64 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Asian and 8 percent black, according to data from the 2015-'16 school year, the most recent available.
Parker said that inclusivity and diversity have been priorities for the school since its opening in 2010.
"We know that it's important that children learn from multiple perspectives," he explained. "And we want our classrooms to have as many learners from as many backgrounds as possible to make the learning environment rich and dynamic."
P.S. 452 recently moved to the former West 61st Street campus of P.S. 191, which relocated to the Riverside School for Makers and Artists at 300 W. 61st St. as part of a major rezoning of District 3.
While Parker said the rezoning — aimed at reducing overcrowding in certain schools and eliminating segregation in others — boosted P.S. 452's diversity numbers a little, he was excited to further their diversity goals by joining the DOE's program.
"We’re hoping that with this initiative we will have a more diverse student body that looks more like the city in which we live," he said.