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Despite new school openings, kindergarten wait-lists persist

City school officials say they’re still crunching the numbers to figure out how many soon-to-be kindergarteners are on wait lists this year, but a familiar pattern of long lists is remerging in parts of the city.

Despite rezonings and the opening of new schools on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, elementary schools are posting wait-lists dozens of children deep. Early reports are in for a few schools, such as P.S. 290 on the Upper East Side, which had a wait-list of 91 students last year and is telling parents they have 68 families on the list this year.

Jason Rowland, a father who lives in the P.S. 290 zone on the Upper East Side told me today that his daughter is number 34 on the wait-list. Rowland wrote:

We received a letter yesterday informing us our daughter has been wait-listed for PS290 for the upcoming kindergarten class. Not a big surprise I know considering the schools rep for wait-listing — but considering the Dept. of Ed. and City Council just went through complete re-zoning of the district and opened a new school — the news was especially outrageous.

Community Education Council for District 2 Vice-President Shino Tanikawa said that a rezoning on its own often doesn’t do much to decrease wait-lists, but the arrival of a new elementary school P.S. 267, could have.

“We’ve been saying that even with this school, we’ll need another elementary school sooner than later, so we’re very curious to see how that new school is doing,” Tanikawa said. DOE officials did not make enrollment numbers for P.S. 267 immediately available.

The same story appears to be playing out on the Upper West Side, where a new elementary school and a recent rezoning have not put a stop to the wait-lists. District 3 Community Education Council President Noah Gotbaum said that enrollment has increased “moderately to heavily” in almost every Upper West Side elementary school below 110th Street.

The only exception is P.S. 87, which had a wait-list of 125 students last year, leading the DOE to open a new elementary school P.S. 452 to stem the overcrowding. Yet Gotbaum said that another school, P.S. 199, which gave some of its zoned neighborhood to the new school, is still experiencing an enrollment increase.

Last year, the early enrollment period ended with about 2,000 soon-to-be kindergartners on waiting lists. DOE officials said they hoped to have a complete list of kindergarten wait-lists by tomorrow.

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