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Upper West Siders warns DOE of kindergarten crowding next year

Members of the Upper West Side’s district school board are meeting tonight to warn Department of Education officials that if they don’t build more classrooms, next year’s kindergarten crisis will be in their district.

In an interview this afternoon, Community Education Council president Noah Gotbaum said that though the DOE’s data shows a district-wide decrease in enrollment, many schools were hit with an influx of kindergartners this year. P.S. 87 had to create three more kindergarten classes than the department had projected, while P.S. 199 had to create two more to accommodate children who live in the zone.

Pointing to the rapid construction of housing developments in the district and the increase in parents who can no longer afford private school, Gotbaum said the numbers for next year look worse, but there’s no room for the schools to grow.

“These are pretty significant trends that need to be taken into consideration and addressed immediately, otherwise there will be real chaos in September and I think the DOE recognizes that,” he said.

While some overcrowded schools are asking for more space, others are asking for more students. According to Gotbaum, P.S. 75 is “filled to the brim,” but without more students and the city dollars that follow them, the school will have to cut programs.

District 3, which runs from 59th to 122nd street, is also afflicted with under enrolled schools. P.S. 185 in Morningside Heights has room to spare, Gotbaum said, yet the DOE left it off the list of schools with space for new applicants, causing few students to enroll.

“The schools uptown seem to have had less ability to determine their fate, whether because they’re really small or because they have been perceived as failing,” said Beth Servetar, a member of the CEC’s subcommittee on space. “They’ve been kind of left to wither on the vine as a charter comes in,” she said.

John White, the DOE’s Interim Acting Deputy Chancellor for Strategy and Innovation, did not return requests for comment.

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