SOLVE OVERCROWDING: ALL PS 196 Zoned Kids MUST HAVE A SEAT at 196
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We are the parents of children zoned for P.S. 196 as well as supporters in the district and beyond. We have found ourselves in the unfortunate position to contact our district and city officials and school administrators about the reoccurring waitlist problem for incoming Kindergarten students. In both 2015 and 2017 there have been groups of devoted parents and community supporters that have petitioned over the same cause and unfortunately we are forced to do the same. There is currently a reported waitlist of 63 children for the 2018-2019 school year. While the waitlist problem has resolved itself in the past, we as parents that have moved here to be part of the Forest Hills community or have been a part of this community for many years find it unacceptable for our children to be denied entrance to their zoned school. The DOE has placed a heavy burden on parents and young children to figure out how to get their children to schools outside their zones, travelling up to 45 minutes each way, as well as possibly waiting months and months to find out if their children have been accepted into their zoned school. The value of properties zoned for P.S. 196 is much higher than the surrounding areas, and parents are paying a premium to be zoned for and attend this well-regarded school, with an expectation to be timely admitted.
Kindergarten is mandatory for all children and the required entry grade into New York City schools. Under the Chancellor’s regulations:
“It is the primary obligation of a zoned school to serve its zoned students. If a zoned school is unable to accommodate all zoned students, non-mandatory programs at the school may be reduced or eliminated.”
(Chancellor’s regulations, A-101)
In relying on this regulation, we do not accept the waitlist status of our Kindergarten children while there is a Pre-K class at P.S. 196. Pre-K is considered a non-mandatory program. It is our suggestion that the Pre-K program be eliminated for this school year until a more permanent fix is put in place. At this time, P.S. 196 does not have the space to accommodate a Pre-K program in addition to all the zoned students for Kindergarten.
We do understand that adding an additional Kindergarten classroom creates a further space issue as the children move up through the grades. However, it is the obligation of the Department of Education (the “DOE”) to provide appropriate space for all zoned children in their zoned schools.
In addition to eliminating the Pre-K program at P.S. 196 for the 2018-2019 school year referenced above, we suggest the following possible solutions (which would help the students entering the 2018-2019 school year):
- Temporarily utilize cluster classrooms for Kindergarten classrooms until a long-term solution is determined.
- Eliminate the Pre-K Program at P.S. 303. The additional Kindergarten class that could be added at P.S. 303 would likely accept children from the P.S. 196 zone, which would shorten the Kindergarten waitlist at P.S. 196
- Lease space outside of the P.S. 196 building to open up additional classes to relieve some of the overcrowding within the main building until a long-term solution is determined.
As an additional suggestion, which we appreciate will not help the students entering the 2018-2019 school year, but may help community and parents in the similar situation in the near future:
4. Eliminate the district wide lottery placement for P.S. 303 – While the idea of a specialized school focusing on the arts is a wonderful idea, making it a zoned school could alleviate much of the community’s issues with overcrowding and would prevent 196 from dealing with having to add on classes in later grades.
As concerned parents and supporters we demand our children be permitted to attend their zoned school in September and for this decision to be made in a timely manner. We urge the DOE and the city to provide short and long-term solutions to the overcrowding issue.
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