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Coming soon, parents say: A wave of private school refugees

Upper East Side parents say they’re changing their plans and picking public schools because of the toll the financial crisis has taken on their bank accounts.

They aired the complaints at a meeting last night about overcrowding in public schools on the Upper East Side. (More on this later today.) Parents said department officials underestimate how many children will enter the neighborhood’s schools this fall, in part because many Upper East Siders can no longer afford the pricey private schools attended by as many as 60 percent of families in one part of the neighborhood.

One mother, Caroline Hall, said at the meeting that she’s pulling her son out of his private school when he starts kindergarten in the fall. I filmed her comments:

Hall, who works on Wall Street as a lawyer, told me that many people she knows saw their bonuses drop by 50 to 80 percent last year. “Most people rely on their bonus to play for things like private school,” she said. While Hall and I talked, we were approached by a father whose children attend an overcrowded school in the neighborhood. Hall recognized him from their company — but he said he is no longer employed.

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