View Full Version : All NYC Lines, lotteries signal same old song for elementary schools

02-10-2011, 10:25 AM
This from Downtown Express (http://downtownexpress.com/de_407/lineslotteries.html) by Aline Reynolds:
The lines in front of Lower Manhattan elementary schools are once again forming, the same way they have been for the last two years. Kindergarten registration for the 2011-12 school year is already creating angst among Downtown parents who are itching to know where their child will be going to school next fall.

Pre-registration, which began on January 10, is a good forecaster for next year’s enrollment at the Lower Manhattan elementary schools, which have already received more applications than they have seats.

P.S. 234 is once again proving to be an extremely popular choice for Lower Manhattan families. The school has received 163 applicants for 125 seats one month into pre-registration, causing its administrators to resort to a lottery for the third year in a row.

Public schools citywide are mandated by the New York City Department of Education to arbitrarily admit students in these situations, since they aren’t allowed to admit them on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to D.O.E. Spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.

“If a school has more applicants than more zoned spots for during pre-registration period,” he said, “they have a responsibility to determine which pre-registered zoned students are getting an offer, and which pre-registered zoned students they waitlist on a random basis.”

Magdalena Lenski, the school’s parent coordinator, said the stress level among parents this year is lower compared to three years ago, when administrators introduced the system to the school.

“You don’t have the panic as you had in that first year,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s because now they know there’ll be a lottery,” which is “kind of a matter of course at this point.”

Besides, Lenski noted, not everyone who applies and gets in accepts the seat, since many parents end up enrolling their children in gifted and talented programs or private schools.

P.S. 234, which opened in 1988, first started holding lotteries in 2008, when the number of kindergarten applicants surpassed the school’s capacity.

Despite the calmness that Lenski described, however, parents of pre-schoolers in the neighborhood are worried that their children may not be the school’s lucky picks. The thought of Tribeca resident Silke Steinberg’s four-and-a-half-year-old son, Alexander, not getting into P.S. 234, for example, is making her very upset.

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