Upper West Side parents learned at the District 3 Community Education Council meeting on Wednesday that PS 9 will phase out its popular gifted and talented program and will not admit incoming G&T class of kindergartners next fall.
The belated announcement by the Department of Education, coming more than a week after the May 10 deadline for submitting applications, caught parents by surprise. According to Robin Aronow, of SchoolSearchNYC, PS 9 has become increasingly popular, with many more neighborhood families choosing to attend its regular program, in addition to the sought-after G&T classes. At the end of the kindergarten registration period on March 30, there were nine zoned families on a waitlist, according to the DOE; the PS 9 website reports there were103 zoned children who filled out registration materials this year, many more than the 73 last year.
"It used to be that families only went for the G&T at PS 9 and now we've seen a turn-around, and many neighborhood families are now attending the school," said Aronow. "The timing [of the decision] is unfortunate given that families had to finalize their choices 10 days ago. The question is: will District 3 parents have a chance to reorder their choices."
District 3 isn't the only place where there has been confusion over where programs will be housed next year. Parents who called PS 229 in District 24 in Queens were told there would be no kindergarten G&T program there next fall despite it being listed on their application. DOE officials told parents that the school will offer a program if enough families select it, and parents were allowed to add it, or re-order their choices on their application late last week.
Typically, the DOE places G&T programs in schools that have space for children from outside of their catchment zone. According to a DOE spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, "P.S. 9 will not be serving G&T students this year because the school needs the space to accommodate families from its zone. This is not a reduction in G&T seats, however, as we’ll be offering more seats in other programs in order to accommodate G&T students. Shifting programs is very common, and every year we carefully plan our G&T sections to make sure we’re meeting demand and prioritizing the way we use our limited space."
An email circulated by the PS 9 PTA executive board says the "PS 9 administration and community had no say in this [decision not to offer G&T kindergarten classes] and were only notified after it was announced at the CEC meeting this past Wednesday. The timing of this announcement - not to mention the decision itself - has caused great concern not only among the many district 3 families who selected PS9 G&T as their first choice for their incoming kindergartners..."
The email suggests ways in which concerned parents may take action:
"1) Send Questions About OSE's Decision To:
Office: 212-678-5857 Press 4
2) Send a Message to Chancellor Walcott Via DOE Website: http://schools.nyc.gov/ContactDOE/ChancellorMessage.htm
3) Attend Town Hall Meeting (with Chancellor Walcott on Monday Night, 5/23:
6 – 7:30 PM @ PS 165, 234 W. 109th St. (Between Broadway & Amsterdam)