Streams

Kindergarten Placements in the Mail

Wednesday, April 03, 2013 - 01:12 PM

WNYC

Tens of thousands of parents of new students will hear this week whether they were accepted to their kindergarten of choice, as the Department of Education mailed admission notices Wednesday morning.

The announcements come as a relief to many parents who told SchoolBook they felt overwhelmed by the application process.

“Now, I’m just anxious,” said Traci Lester, who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and applied to eight schools for her four-year-old daughter. “We’re not sure which school will be the one. I kind of ranked them in my mind, but it’s possible that we may not get what we wanted,” she said.

Lester applied to their zoned local school, P.S. 20, but she also had her eyes set on high-performing schools outside her neighborhood, in part to avoid being stranded on waiting lists.

All of the options felt overwhelming for parent Susan Silberman, who lives on the Upper West Side with her daughter. She said she’d be pleased if they got an offer to their local school, P.S. 166, but isn’t sure it’s the right fit.

“How well do you know how your child learns when they’re three and four years old?” Silberman said. “You’re not just making the decision based on her kindergarten, you’re making the decision based on kindergarten through five and that’s nerve-wrecking.”

Parental concern about school choice isn’t unfounded but much of it may be needless, according to education journalist and Inside Schools founder Clara Hemphill. She said only a handful of zoned schools have waiting lists, which end up mostly evaporating by mid-summer.

“Registration has become this wildly-complicated, anxiety-producing experience when, in fact, for most parents it’s just registering your child at your neighborhood school,” she said.

For parents unhappy with their neighborhood options, Hemphill said there are some strong schools that tend to under enroll.

Some parents, like Aimee Sabo, however, feel an extra layer of stress because they are juggling the Gifted and Talented admissions process at the same time.

“We’re not really sure if it’d be the best fit even if our son is qualified,” she said. “But it definitely complicates things.”

If Sabo’s son passed the test, she’ll have until April 19 to submit applications. The G&T; test results should come out next week, according to a D.O.E. spokesperson, and placement offers in late May.

Parent leader Noah Gotbaum, who sits on the Community Education Council for District 3 in Manhattan, said the mismatched timing for kindergarten and G&T; admissions created unnecessary stress.

“It’s a whole cascading system because parents who are on wait lists at district schools won’t know where their child is going until the summer when Gifted and Talented acceptances shake out,” he said. “It puts the district school in complete chaos.”

Last year, the D.O.E. received more than 60,000 kindergarten applications, with more than 2,400 children put on waiting lists at their local, zoned schools. Families have until April 26 to register.

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