Three new pre-kindergarten classes will be added to two schools on the Upper East Side, despite a misunderstanding between Councilman Dan Garodnick’s office and the Department of Education over exactly how many classes and students there would be. Though Garodnick’s press release last week announced four classes, there will be three in total with 20 students each. Two classes will be added to P.S. 6 and one to P.S. 183. Many pre-k students remain on the wait lists at various schools in the area, but the exact number is unclear because some students are likely on more than one list, and some may be on lists in other areas.
“Nobody should have to send their kids 40 minutes away for a pre-k seat in a universal pre-k program,” Garodnick said.
Garodnick’s efforts, with assistance from the DOE, have resulted in two classes of 20 students each being added to P.S. 6 and one class of 20 to P.S. 183 for a total of 60 new spots, bringing the total number of available pre-k seats in the area up to 530. Combined with the 90 seats added by fellow Councilman Ben Kallos — whose district borders Garodnick’s on the Upper East Side — back in May, there has certainly been an improvement, but a 2014 WNYC report estimated that there are 2,118 four-year-olds in Kallos’ district, the majority of whom will have to go far outside their neighborhoods for pre-k.
“Together, we’ve more than quadrupled the number of free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seats in this area since 2013-14, and we look forward to continued partnership to continue to expand options,” DOE Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack said in a statement. “There is a free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seat for every 4-year-old in New York City, and our Pre-K outreach team is actively supporting any families continuing to explore their pre-K options.”
Both P.S. 6 and P.S. 183 are currently only kindergarten through fifth grade, but the parents of students already at P.S. 6 are excited about taking on two new pre-k classes. ”We all think it’s wonderful,” said PTA co-president Maureen Atinsky. “It’s something we’ve been trying to get into the school for a while.”
One potential hitch, however, is what happens when the new pre-k students move up into the higher grades. “I think that’s one of the reasons these schools were willing to take on new kids,” Garodnick said. “They don’t just accept these kids in a vacuum. ... They feel confident that they can accommodate them.” Though, he said, “this does not end the problem.”
Families who want to enroll their child at P.S. 6 or P.S. 183 can express interest at https://maps.nyc.gov/upk/get-in-touch.html by August 1 and then will be randomly selected for admission.