Search News & Views
News and views
If you’re looking for a good kindergarten but don’t love your zoned neighborhood school, you may want to consider the following options. These are schools in Manhattan and the Bronx that accept children from outside their immediate neighborhoods.
For this list, we have concentrated on schools that don’t require a "gifted and talented" exam. All a parent has to do is apply between now and March 1--and hope there are seats available. Call the schools directly for details. The Department of Education has produced a comprehensive directory of elementary school choices
(This list doesn’t include charter schools. We’ll post a list of those closer to the April application deadline)
District 1: Lower East Side
In District 1 on the Lower East Side, there are no zoned neighborhood schools. Everybody has to make a choice. Preference goes to children who live in the district, but there are sometimes spots for out-of-district children, including Brooklynites.
Long-time favorites are The Neighborhood School, The Earth School, and PS 184—which will most likely fill up with District 1 kids this year. (Note: out-of-district families who are willing to wait until August may snag a seat). Out-of-district children may have a better chance at the Children’s Workshop School and East Village Community School. Also consider PS 20, which has a nice dual language program in English and Mandarin. PS 63, also called the STAR Academy, is gaining in popularity.
District 2-Downtown, Midtown and Upper East Side
Forget PS 234 or PS 276 if you live out of zone. Those popular schools long wait lists even for their zoned kids. The good news: there are some new schools that may have kindergarten seats for children who live anywhere in District 2. Consider PS 267 and PS 527 on the Upper East Side, PS 281 in East Midtown and PS 51 which is moving into a new building in Hell’s Kitchen in the fall. PS 33 in Chelsea and PS 59 on the Upper East Side may squeeze in a few out-of-zone students.
District 3-Upper West Side
PS 452 on the Upper West Side and PS 180 in Harlem are terrific schools that took out-of-zone children last year and probably will this year. PS 84 has both Spanish-English and French-English dual language programs open to children in District 3. French-speakers from out of district may be eligible for PS 84.
Manhattan School for Children accepts children from across District 3.
District 4-East Harlem
The birthplace of school choice, District 4 in East Harlem has welcomed out-of-zone and out-of-district children for decades. Central Park East I, Central Park East II and River East are small progressive schools that are popular with parents.
District 5-Central Harlem
District 6-Upper Manhattan
District 6 offers a number of choices for parents who want to look beyond their neighborhood school, including Muscota New School, Amistad Dual Language School, Hamilton Heights School, Washington Heights Academy and PS 178, The Professor Juan Bosch School. Castle Bridge is a new school modeled on Central Park East 1. PS 210 offers a dual language program in Spanish and English
District 7: South Bronx
District 8: Soundview-Throgs Neck
PS 304 Early Childhood School, has high test scores, involved parents and a cheerful environment.
PS 182 is one of the few schools in the Bronx that still has a functioning gifted & talented program. Students are admitted according to their scores on a district-wide test.
District 9: South-Central Bronx
Mount Eden Children’s Academy is a new school open to children from across the district.
District 10: Riverdale-Northwest Bronx
Bronx New School is a progressive school that has long attracted children from across District 10.
PS 344 the Ampark Neighborhood School, has a diverse student population and strong scores in reading and math.
PS 396 has a noteworthy special education program for children with autism.
District 11-Northeast Bronx
PS 498 Van Nest Academy, and Linden Tree Elementary School accept children from across District 11.
PS 153 Helen Keller is a reliable choice. Though the general education program mainly accepts zoned children, the gifted and talented program accept children districtwide.
Most children in Queens attend their neighborhood elementary schools, and there isn’t a lot of room for shopping around. However, if you are dissatisfied with your zoned school, here are some possibilities.
The most crowded district in the city, District 24 has had three new non-zoned elementary schools open up since 2010 to ease the overcrowding, including PS 290, PS 330, and PS 110, which opened in the fall of 2012.
District 25, serving Bayside and Flushing, has three well-regarded early childhood schools for grades K-3 which are open to children across the district: PS 130, PS 242 Leonard P. Stavisky Early Childhood School, and the Active Learning Elementary School. The Queens College School for Math, Science and Technology, a K-8 school hosted on the Queens College campus, accepts students by lottery from all over Queens.
PS 201 The Discovery School for Inquiry and Research, has a magnet grant, so children may apply from outside the zone.
PS/IS 266 in Bellerose accepts children from across District 26 through a lottery and shares a campus with PS/IS 208 and the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences.
Some neighborhood schools in the district also sometimes accept students from outside the zone. PS 031 Bayside and PS 046 Alley Pond have had some room for a few students from outside the zone in recent years.
Goldie Maple Academy is open to students throughout District 27.
The Academy for Excellence through the Arts is a small, arts-focused early childhood school open to applicants from throughout the district. PS 80 Thurgood Marshall offers a gifted and talented program that is not part of the city's gifted program, and while most general education students are from the zone, the school does maintain a waiting list for a small number of out-of-zone children.
Four schools in District 29 accept students by lottery, three of them are K-8 schools and a fourth is an early childhood school. All are housed in attractive well-equipped buildings and are open district-wide: PS/IS 208, PS 251, PS/IS 268, and the Gordon Parks School.
While District 30 does not have any non-zoned schools, some neighborhood schools have accepted out-of-zone students over the past few years. Some strong schools with dual language programs accept a few students from outside the zone each year, including PS 166 Henry Gradstein, PS Q222 Fire Fighter Christopher A. Santora School, and PS 228 Early Childhood Magnet School of the Arts.
I am very concerned about the the direction that kindergarten is going. When will people realize these are babies, who deserve to play and learn at their own pace, mostly out and about in the world? Five year olds should not be taught material that's intended for 6-year-old brains, developmentally. Five year olds should not be asked to sit doing worksheets for hours a day, but that's what most teachers are doing now. Must I send my child to kindergarten? I would prefer to keep her away from all formal schooling until she is 6 or 7 (like the kids in Finland) but I am afraid I would be breaking the law.
Dear Kg concerned,
The last time I explored this with DOE staffers, I was assured that the object of the law was not to "go after" the parents who do not send their child to kindergarten. Their concern is for the kids who were not let into crowded schools because kindergarten was not required. You may keep her out of kindergarten but you must enroll her for 1st grade (unless you decide to homeschool -- more on how to do that below.)
As my eldest son prepares to enter kindergarten this fall, I can think of little else. I’ve entered charter school lotteries, toured our zoned school and the just-out-of-zone schools that we could get bumped to if ours fills up. Anyone I talk to who has a child or even knows a child is sure to hear about my worries: Is Noodle ready for the chaos of our local progressive elementary school? Would team-teaching or gen ed be the better choice? Would the structure of a Success Academy be helpful or would Eva Moskowitz beat all the creativity out of him with her much-vaunted four-inch heels? So the other day when my husband off-handedly asked, “You signed up for kindergarten, right?” I had to shuffle my feet like a nervous preschooler. “Um, no. Not yet.”
I have four days until the DOE application deadline. Considering that I’m the kind of person who has been known to RSVP to parties after they’re over, four days feels like an eternity. Still, I know I’m playing with matches. If something goes wrong and I can't register, Noodle becomes a pawn of the DOE, placed wherever there’s an empty seat. I’ve come close to applying. I really have. But things keep getting in the way. Doctor appointments, school tours and writing are just a few of my excuses.
Just scrambling to find all the paperwork to prove that I live where I say I live has been surprisingly difficult. Who gets Con Ed bills in the mail anymore? Pay stubs on paper? Please. After weeks of killing trees and commiserating with other moms, I finally have my packet ready: birth certificate, a copy of our lease, my husband’s W2, and a not-so-nice letter from the IRS that, though embarrassing, has our address on it. So what’s holding me back?
Quite simply, I’m just not excited. What should be a wondrous rite of passage for my son has become a subject of anxiety and compromised ideals. At the very mention of the word “kindergarten” I let out a large sigh, feel my blood pressure rise and launch into an increasingly well-rehearsed rant. In my quest to ensure that Noodle’s kindergarten experience is perfect, I’ve already made it unbearable.
Q: We live in a rental apartment in NYC, and own a home in another state. We had to move to New York for work. We rent the house that's out of state and the income helps to pay for our rent here. We fear that colleges will see the house we own as an investment property or vacation home rather than as a primary residence, which is usually exempt from financial aid calculations. Should we sell the home or take other measures to improve our financial aid standing?
A: College admission does not mean simply being admitted – it also means significant financial commitment. Yours is a complicated question, and actually one that is outside my area of expertise, as I am concerned with the academic aspects of admission. Still, I can point you in the right direction, as well as address the general issue of where to go for college-related financial advice.
But first -- and this is for everyone planning to apply for financial aid – file your FAFSA now, if you have not already done so. The acronym stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It costs nothing to file this form. If you get anything in the mail or see anything on the Internet that charges you for financial aid information, toss or delete! This information is free. An important thing for all parents to remember is this: if a website ends in .gov or .org or .edu the information is free; if a website ends in .com there is cost involved. For FAFSA information, go to the government website: www.fafsa.ed.gov. Another good source: Insideschools and the Center for NYC Affairs published a FAFSA guide. Here's the link.
State math and reading exams will be harder to pass this year, Chancellor Dennis Walcott warned parents, and more children will likely fail. For the first time the state-mandated tests will be aligned with the new Common Core standards and, Walcott says, "will be more difficult to pass." In a break from the past, however, failing -- scoring a level 1 out of 4 - will not mean automatic holdover for children in grades 3 to 8.
Instead, the chancellor said in a letter to parents, the DOE "will look at students' overall scores-how many questions each student got right. Students with the lowest scores will be recommended for summer school."
Since 2004 when Mayor Bloomberg ended so-called "social promotion," all students who scored a 1 on either the reading or math exam were sent to summer school. This year students who score in the bottom 10 percent will be required to go to summer school and retake the exams in August, NY1 reports. The city anticipates that the number of students requiring summer classes to be promoted to the next grade will be about the same as last year.
The yearly high-stakes tests also affect admission to selective middle and high schools. Cut-off scores for acceptance may be lower this year, but Walcott said, "students who earn the highest scores-even if those scores are lower than in past years-will still have access to screened middle and high schools."
Students this year will have to read and respond to longer and more challenging passages than in previous years. Third graders will be expected to read 500-600 word excerpts from books such as Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach or The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles. Eighth graders will read 900-1,000 word passages from classics such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Richard Wright’s Native Son. Third and 4th graders will have less time to complete the math exams than on previous years' tests. Test guides for every grade's reading and math exams are posted on the state education department's website.
This year's ELA (English Language Arts) exams will be given on April 16-18; math tests will be the following week, April 24-26.
At 7:10 am tomorrow morning, we will be happily reunited with my son’s bus driver and matron. I know it will be exactly at 7:10 because they are never late.
Sadly, Mayor Bloomberg has made certain that our reunion will not last long—in June, he will bring in a lower-cost workforce that will be more transient, less punctual, and most importantly, will have no experience with special education children. [Current union contracts for transporting special needs students expire in June and companies won't be required to bring in experienced drivers and matrons.]
The Mayor has claimed all through the strike that the bus drivers’ union request for job protection was illegal. Ironically, when it was illegal for Bloomberg to run for a third term in 2008, he managed to find a loophole. Given that he couldn’t manage to bring himself to a single strike negotiation meeting and given his poor legal record when it comes to educating my son and his peers, perhaps it’s time to conclude that he doesn’t really have anyone’s best interest at heart except his own.
Thankfully, advocate groups like The Arise Coalition, Advocates for Children, and Parents to Improve School Transportation (PIST) continue to work tirelessly, understanding that the strike didn’t solve anything. There will be a public speak out this Thursday night at 6 pm in Brooklyn-please attend if you can.
This post appeared first on Capturing Autism: A mom's perspective.
See GothamSchools for a roundup of coverage of the end of the strike.
PS 234 and PS 276, two popular downtown elementary schools, will face kindergarten waitlists again this year, DNAinfo reports.
The due date for kindergarten applications is March 1 and already PS 234 has 166 kindergarten applicants, well over the 125 student limit, Magda Lenski, the school's parent coordinator, told DNAinfo. At PS 276, more than 130 kids have applied. The school was designed for 75 kindergartners.
When more children apply than there are slots available, a lottery is held and students who aren't chosen are placed on a waitlist. There is always movement on the waitlists as families move or choose to go to private schools or gifted and talented programs. Last year the waitlisted students at PS 234 and PS 276 all got seats by June, largely because both schools opened additional kindergarten classes. That can't continue to happen, the schools say. At PS 276, parents petitioned the Education Department to find additional schools for kindergartners. Principal Terri Ruyter suggested that the school may need to lose its two pre-kindergarten classrooms to make space, DNAinfo reports.
The good news for parents is that other downtown schools do have space. The new Peck Slip School, temporarily housed in Tweed, has only 13 kindergarten applications so far and plans to take in 50 students. The Spruce Street School has 50 applicants so far for 50 spots and PS 89 has 62 applicants for 75 spots, according to DNAinfo. Families may also apply to PS 150, an unzoned school in Tribeca which gives priority to students from downtown neighborhoods.
Hearings began around the city last night regarding the future of 22 schools the Education Department has deemed failing and wants to close. In the midst of protests by students and parents clamoring for their schools to remain open, the DOE held out a carrot to students: they will be allowed to transfer to higher-performing schools.
Saying he felt a "moral imperative" to offer options to students in low-performing schools, Marc Sternberg, a deputy chancellor at the DOE, told reporters about the new policy shortly before school closure hearings began last night. Information about the transfer plan will be distributed to all affected schools and at hearings, he said. The Panel on Educational Policy will vote on the school phaseouts at two meetings in March at Brooklyn Tech. If they are approved, as is likely, affected students will receive an application to transfer in the mail. Families will have about a month to reply and will hear the outcome in late June, at the end of the school year. There is no guarantee that all students will get a transfer; priority will be given to the lowest-performing students, including those with special needs, Sternberg said.
About 16,000 students, from 61 elementary, middle and high schools, will be eligible to transfer. This includes the 22 schools that may begin to phase out this year, and 39 others which have already begun the phaseout process.
Parents and administrators at Central Park East I and II say the Education Department undermined their efforts to grow into a middle school, giving away ideal "expansion space to a charter school just months after Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said no space was available," DNAinfo reports.
Central Park East I and II are sister elementary schools that teach hands-on, progressive learning. For the last four years, one or the other has been asking the DOE for space to expand and have been given various reasons why the DOE would not grant them permission.
"Every year it's another excuse," former Central Park East 1 principal Julie Zuckerman told Insideschools this week at Castle Bridge, the progressive, dual language elementary school she founded in 2012 in Washington Heights.
Last year, the DOE told Zuckerman they would not allow an expansion because she was leaving to found Castle Bridge. This year, space is the issue, CPE I and II were told.
But the DOE is phasing out JHS 13, which shares the Jackie Robinson Education Complex with Central Park East 1 and Central Park East High School, opening up ideal space for the progressive elementary schools and high school to expand into middle school grades, parents say. Instead, in a surprise move, the DOE granted JHS 13's coveted space to East Harlem Scholars Academy I & II. East Harlem Scholars Academy I is already sharing the Jackie Robinson building and plans to move into its own building once it's constructed. It will use the extra space in the Jackie Robinson Complex to expand into a middle school: East Harlem Scholars Academy II, according to DNAinfo.
Zuckerman said Upper Manhattan is saturated with charter schools and is seriously lacking progressive school choices. "In Northern Manhattan, there's not a progressive middle school," she said.
CPE II mom Raven Snook said she and other parents are planning to rally in support of CPE I and II growing to include a middle school at the Wednesday, Feb. 27 hearing at the Jackie Robinson Complex about the proposed expansion of East Harlem Scholars Academy. (For more information, download their flyer.)
For more on the story see DNAinfo.