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Kindergarten wait lists lengthen as more families apply

Over 3,000 soon-to-be kindergarteners are on wait-lists for elementary school this year — a marked increase over last year and one that’s hitting schools in Queens and Manhattan particularly hard.

Every spring, in what has become a ritual in recent years, parents register for kindergarten at their nearby elementary schools for the following year ,and every spring, thousands are wait-listed. Department of Education officials said they received 8,000 more kindergarten applications this year than last year. While more than 92 percent of those families have been accepted to their zoned schools, 3,195 of them are still waiting for a placement.

DOE officials emphasized that between now and the end of May the wait list numbers could fluctuate. During the intervening months, some families will move away, enroll their children in private or parochial schools, or win lotteries for charter school admission. Officials said they would open more kindergarten classes where they could find space.

But come the end of May, families who still don’t have seats in their zoned schools will be sent new schools to choose from. Last year, nearly 1,000 kindergarteners did not get spots in their zoned schools. Some of the new assignments sent families to less-coveted schools just down the block. Others sent the 5- and 6-year-olds on treks as arduous as a nearly 3-mile hike from Sunset Park to Red Hook, in the case of four unlucky Brooklyn families.

“We understand parents are anxious, but this is only the beginning of the admissions process and every single year we see waitlists shrink or disappear completely throughout the spring and summer,” DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld said in a written statement. “We’re already planning meetings with parents in communities that have waitlists, and we’ll continue to work with schools every day on reducing waitlists across the City.”

This year, some schools on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side saw their wait lists shrink, but not disappear, as a result of two new elementary schools that opened this year. P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side had 125 children on its wait list last year, but after a new school opened nearby, it now has a wait list 48 children deep. Even parents who are happy to gamble on that new school may not get in — P.S. 452 has a wait list of eight students.

Other schools have long wait lists where they used to have none. P.S. 49 in Middle Village, Queens has 74 students on its wait list whereas last year it had none. P.S. 143, another Queens elementary school, had 24 students on its wait list last year and this year is up to 79.

Last year at this time, roughly 2,000 rising kindergartners landed on wait lists. Next year’s wait lists could be even longer. Siting state cuts to school construction funding, the Department of Education has decided to cut 16,000 seats it planned to build out of its capital plan.

Below is school-by-school wait list count for schools that have more than 20 children still waiting for a seat.