Tuesday, May 20

New seats, fewer out-of-district kids to relieve District 2 overcrowding

NYC Public School Parents is hosting a copy of the DOE's much-anticipated "Blueprint for District 2 Enrollment and Capacity." At a recent meeting about overcrowding in District 2, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the fact that such a document was on its way was one "sign of progress" in reducing overcrowding in the district's schools — but I wonder whether he still feels that way, having read what the DOE proposes in the preliminary planning document.

"We know that an appropriate plan for District 2's elementary schools will require not only new construction but also enrollment adjustments and efficient use of current facilities," DOE officials write. Contrasted with district residents' thoughtful identification of existing space that could be used for schools, the proposal is thin on ideas for new construction, describing only the plan, announced recently, to convert part of one Greenwich Village building into a 600-student elementary school and one other new idea for construction, in Kips Bay. (Two elementary schools are already planned to open in Lower Manhattan in 2010, and a middle school expansion project is also underway on the Upper East Side.)

While the DOE says it is planning to add nearly 3,000 new seats in elementary and middle schools in District 2, it also asks for two unpopular commitments from District 2 officials and schools. First, it calls for a reduction in out-of-district enrollment in some of Manhattan's most popular schools, a reduction that is already underway thanks to the DOE's own "proactive oversight" of admissions and one that is sure to undermine schools' efforts to maintain diversity in some of the wealthiest zip codes in the city. The DOE also calls for a rezoning of the entire district to account for new schools and resolve some current sticky issues, such as the zone-sharing between PS 3 and PS 41 in Greenwich Village and the lack of a zoned school for children in the old PS 151 zone on the Upper East Side. And it suggests that 5th graders at overcrowded elementary schools in Lower Manhattan be bused to buildings more than a mile away, an option that is sure to please parents who secured apartments with the neighborhood schools in mind.

The letter is packed with tidbits about what families in District 2 (and beyond) might expect as the DOE continues to centralize admissions procedures. It's definitely worth a look. And if you're in District 2, you can respond to your local community board, the Manhattan Borough President's office, or by taking an online survey about school overcrowding. And if you're in other parts of the city — perhaps you're in South Brooklyn, where anti-overcrowding momentum appears to be mounting — you might start thinking now about what the DOE can, and should not, do to relieve overcrowding in your area.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a question -- does anyone know when the Ps3/Ps41 letters might be coming?

Anonymous said...

I heard from a parent of a child at PS 116 in Manhattan that in order to address the significant overcrowding issues at the school, after next year, the school will no longer be accepting gifted and talented students into kindergarten. So, next year's incoming class (2008-2009) will be the last new class. I also heard that the school may be giving up the classroom it has for its dance program in order to alleviate overcrowding, which is really too bad for based on what I saw in my tour of the school, it is a v. nice program and one that the children loved. And, lastly, no surprise, out of zone variances will be no more at this school.

This does not bode well for parents of children who test into the g&t program who live in the zone for this school The other g&t schools are far from the PS 116neighborhood. And, for the parents of general ed kids, well, they will be losing a valuable enrichment program...a program that educates the mind and exercises the physical form.

Philissa said...

9:11 p.m. -- Yes, this tidbit was in the District 2 Blueprint, which was the first time I heard of it. I don't know how long folks on the ground at PS 116 have known about the impending change. But it bodes poorly not just for G&T kids who live in the zone but for families with multiple children who this year may have selected PS 116 as their first choice and in future years will not have a sibling priority in a G&T program. It seems that this would have been pertinent information for the DOE to make available well before G&T applications were due this year.

Anonymous said...

A source close to the principal at PS 116 tells me that the principal has wanted to dump the g&t program for a while, regardless of the overcrowding.

And, truth be told, does ridding ps 116 of its g&t classes add NEW seats? No, it just re-demoninates existing seats.

as one parent whose two children both went through ps 116's g&t program, ridding the school of this program is cutting out the heart of the school.

Anonymous said...

And, one more thing.....my guess is that those 5th graders at overcrowded elementary schools in Lower Manhattan will be be bused to such unpopular (underperforming schools?) as ps 33 in chelsea and ps 111 in hell's kitchen. the effort to shift enrollment to ps 111 has already begun as evidenced by the two new gifted and talented classes that will be there next year!

asdf said...

Just informed that our to be 2nd grade daughter accepted to PS 116 G&T program. Must decide this week. Currently at PS 183. Any leads to help us evaluate PS 116 in the next few days? Any comments about the program?