Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shortage Of Pre-K Seats At PS 58 In Carroll Gardens Leaves Parents Scrambling

PS 58 at Smith Street between Carroll and First Streets.
Union Street between Columbia and Hicks Streets
New Pre-K annex for PS58 at 131-133 Union Street
A few days ago, I received an email from Carroll Gardener Hope Korenstein, who expressed her dismay at the shortage of Pre-Kindergarten spaces at PS 58. She writes:

"I am one of the unlucky parents who did not receive a seat for my son in the pre-k at PS 58. I was denied a seat even though I live in the zone and my daughter attends PS 58. For the first time, zoned siblings were denied seats; supposedly there are 23 of us.

What I don't understand - and what the DOE has so far refused to explain - is why they are only putting 2 pre-k classrooms in the new annex space? The building, at 131 Union Street between Hicks and Columbia, is 42 feet wide and three stories tall. It appears to be completely empty. Carroll Gardens is a wildly underserved neighborhood for pre-k, so why on earth would the DOE not use all of that available space?
I intend to keep trying to reach someone in the DOE who is willing to at least give me an explanation."

For the past few years, PS 58, a.k.a. The Carroll School, located at Carroll Street and Smith Street, has had three pre-K classes that seat 18 children each. In October 2015, the school announced that it was "unlikely that PS 58 will be able to retain its three Pre-Kindergarten classrooms in the building for the 2016-2017 school year."
Principal Katie Dello Stritto told parents that the problem was overcrowding and that the pre-K program would either have to be eliminated or be moved out of the school building on Carroll Street.

Luckily,  the Department of Education has been able to secure space for two of the existing three classes in a former bank building on Union Street between Columbia  and Hicks Streets and construction work is underway to ready the space for this coming September. 
A third class would  continue to be housed at the school's main campus.

Despite the fact that the new annex was several blocks away from PS 58, it came as a relief to many parents. The school, however, reminded everyone that "as in previous years, we expect that most of our Pre-K seats will be filled with children who will have an older sibling attending PS 58 in September."

Obviously, as Hope Korenstein's email indicates, quite a number of younger siblings who should have qualified were not offered a seat.  This also means that despite being able to retain three pre-k classes next year, the need for additional seats is far greater in the neighborhood.
And we are not even talking about all the four-year olds in Carroll Gardens who don't have an older brother or sister already at the school and who don't stand any chance of getting a seat.

Hope reached out to Principal Dello Strito to ask why the DOE is limiting the number of pre-k classrooms at the newly leased Union Street building to only two, "when it could so obviously accommodate more pre-k classes in the annex space?  Especially when Carroll Gardens is so horribly underserved for pre-k?"

Principal Della Strito, in an email to Hope responded: "I understand your frustration in that the space looks larger than the capacity of having only two PreK classes. I can tell you that when we were first told that they would be leasing the space and we would be able to have two PreK classes there that this was what the School Construction Authority had deemed possible for the space that was leased."
She assured Hope that she had spoken to Superintenant Anita Skop, about these concerns.  The superintendent has reached out to the SCA on our behalf and will be looking further into the specifics of the space and what is possible," according to Della Strita.

Let us hope that it is possible to add one if not two more classrooms to the Union Street annex to accommodate more children.  

How ironic that one of New York Mayor DeBlasio's mandates when he was elected was to create more Pre-Kindergarden seats in the city.  The obvious shortage and the overall overcrowding in our classrooms here in Carroll Gardens was entirely predictable given the number of new residential developments that have been added to the neighborhood.

Is your child one of the ones that did not get a Pre-K seat offer depute having a sibling at PS 58 already?  What will you do?  What alternatives are you looking at?  let us hear what you think?


Anonymous said...

1) The shortage of Pre-K seats has nothing to do with "increased" development here.

2) Maybe they didn't lease the whole building?

Anonymous said...

The top two floors are not built full.

More needless whining.

Katia said...

To Anon, 11:52, you don't think that the building such as the one on Court and Union as well as the one on Smith and Second Place contribute to the demand?
Why do you think PS58 is overcrowded and getting more so every year?

nishis said...

I thought the Sackett Union is zoned for PS 29. Most new development in the area funnels into 29 because CG's zoning is less friendly.
360 Smith is not so new
There are numerous Pre-K options in District 15, but some people have their heart set on 58 and don't make a backup plan. Since there are unfortunately no guarantees in NYC public schools, you have to have a contingency. Most people just keep their kids in their current (private) preschools. Obviously that is only possible if you have the means to do so (and had the means to pay for the prior two years of private preschool).
In other words, there are plenty of people "deprived" of attending their local pre-K, and a good pre-K is an option for even fewer.

Anonymous said...

It is hardly shocking there are not Pre-K seats for siblings at this point. PS58 is bursting at the seams.

There are plenty of free pre-k seats available in the city for second round applications. People can go onto the DOE's map and click on 2nd Round and see all the available sites that still have spaces including new programs they just added. I saw several in Carroll Gardens after I typed my address in that still have spaces

click "Continue To The Map For Round 2" to see your options.

Katia said...

Thanks, that is certainly useful information.

Anonymous said...

If you think it's bad now, wait until the 700-unit Lightstone development is fully up and running, regardless of what schools it may be zoned for. Then what....

nishis said...

The Lightstone development will likely flood PS 32.
I am hopeful the LICH towers will bring with it a new Cobble Hill school.

Anonymous said...

I have not had kids at 58 for many years, but I never considered it such a great school. I actually pulled 2 or my 3 kids out because if issues we had with the rigid teaching style of the school. I agree with one of the other posters, there are plenty of good options in the district in some unexpected places. Honestly, I think some of this is racial. There are a lot of people who do not want their kids in a school with people of color. I'm white, and 2 of my kids went to PS38 where their were virtually the only white kids - and we lived in the heart of CG. They got a great educations and had wonderful experiences. It was far away, but we qualified for free bus pickup.

Big Momma said...

I used to live at 131 Union Street. The ground floor is quite big, but the two upper floors are about 1/3 of the sq/ft of the ground floor. It has not been a bank for at least 23 years (I moved in in in '93). It was an artist's studio for about a decade. After that it had a kid's party place for awhile. Interesting to see it repurposed again.

Anonymous said...

P.S. 32 is already flooded. Classes have been held in trailers in the schoolyard for about the last 10 years as I was very surprised to read recently. Fortunately, an actual annex building is being constructed back there to accommodate those students. If there's extra room for any more students, it won't be very much at all.

Shanone said...

The top two floors of 131 Union are residential apt's with families living in them.

Anonymous said...

It's a small building and needs lots of repair. I've been inside it.

I'm surprised with all the vacant spots on smith street and the eminent closing of Winn Discount the school didn't leap on anything there. I'd love to know how these 23 were excluded for pre K. Was there a lotto?

nishis said...

Of course it was by lottery. That's how school slots are filled. Frustrating but fair (notwithstanding the sibling preference, which is debatably fair)

jackie from designsmitten said...

"And we are not even talking about all the four-year olds in Carroll Gardens who don't have an older brother or sister already at the school and who don't stand any chance of getting a seat."

well now those lucky sibling parents get a taste of how those of us with 'onlys' feel. I know it's convenient and beneficial for siblings to go to the same school but that shouldn't mean everyone else gets left in the dust. pretty unfair.

Anonymous said...

My kid has also been excluded. We are on the waiting list on all our 6 Pre-K applications in the neighborhood. Our best chance was PS 58 as we have a sibling. That says something about the neighborhood change in density. We got into PS 307, while we live 2 blocks away from PS 58. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

131 Union St hasn't been a bank for years. Most recently the front of first floor was an industrial contractor's office (an incredibly messy one that I'm surprised was allowed) and the back was additional offices. The entire space is pretty big if they decide to use it all. The top two floors are apartments that have been recently renovated (I had friends who lived in both whose leases weren't renewed so the owner could renovate and raise the rent for more affluent folk) so I highly doubt that will be part of the school.

Anonymous said...

Over-development does not cause school overcrowding. Under-development does!

Small/micro studios and 1 bedrooms DO NOT typically include children but many homes in the area are being converted to less but LARGER apartments and that brings the abundance of kids!

UPK class size is 540sf (min. per class) + amenities (pantry, office, bathrooms, etc. so they need more space than you think! Most daycare facilities in the neighborhood do not comply with code. Upper floors don't comply with ADA requirements without an elevator.

Anonymous said...

The situation speaks for itself- just plain poor planning by the DOE. In addition, information from several people closely associated with the school indicated that the expansion of the French language program has adversely impacted the school's ability to accommodate many of those rejected from Pre-K.

And the comment about "more needless whining"? Aside from just being mean-spirited, how comforting it must be to be convinced you are right, even when you don't have all the facts.

Anonymous said...

There were 388 students at PS58 in 2004. In 2015, it was 996 so no matter how much people complain about waiting lists etc. there isn't going to be room and it isn't going to get better in the coming years. They are actually fortunate that they found any room for 2 Pre-K classes this year.

Anonymous said...

Well the nannys picking up those pre schoolers at 131 will have better snack options across the street. Did someone say pizza? ;)

Anonymous said...

Just walked by the 131 on Saturday. Demolition has begun and it appears they broke through the back wall. Must be adding on into the yard for more space.

Anonymous said...

To Jackie,

Those parents had a taste of how "onlys" feel when they went through the school selection process with their older children, who of course did not have any sibling preference at that time. Every family, whether they have one or many children, were treated the same when their first child entered the system.

Anonymous said...

I have two children attending PS 58 and a little one at home who will probably not have the opportunity to attend Pre-K there given how the school is bursting at the seams. My oldest child did not get a seat because we didn't have sibling priority, and that was 4+ years ago. It is really sad that there are 23 families that have to stress and worry about how they are going to manage next year with 2 or more children in different schools. While the french program has been a nice to addition to PS 58 maybe it is time to move that program out so that the school can accommodate the majority of the students in the school that are not in the dual language program. The DOE should look into creating a dedicated dual language school for the area.

Anonymous said...

@katia - even if EVERY apartment in those two developments had a kid in PS58 (not likely), that would add like 2% to the enrollment. But those added apartments have been counterbalanced by the combination of previously divided buildings into huge single family mansions (on the Place blocks this is especially true).

It is simple demographics and economics that has produced "overcrowding" at 58, not overdevelopment.

Carole Gardens said...

It is certainly is not "underdevelopment" that has produced "overcrowding."
That is an oxymoron and makes zero sense to any logical person.

It is the OVERDEVELOPMENT of studios and 1 bedroom apartments for singles that has caused overcrowding. Now "WHY?" is the question?

Because families are being forced to house themselves in many of these tiny spaces but the developers that built them did not need to worry about providing necessary support and infrastructure for these families because they claimed they were not building for these people!

Thus the population has skyrocketed WITHOUT the addition of much needed infrastructure that is needed for families. Thus the city can skirt around its responsibility to provide the needed infrastructure for the community: the schools and other resources (hospitals, libraries, etc) that families need to thrive here. And to remain here.

The vast majority of families are not living in one family homes but rather are crammed into a new but too small apartment somewhere. And it is most-likely over-priced too.

Developers do not want to have to be responsible to build for families because it means considering the infrastructure of a community and providing for more amenities than a gym and a sauna! That means less profit for them. Pure and simple math. And the City not only allows but encourages the developers to do this! Agin pure and simple math.

The DOE is not the only city agency that frustrated parents should be visiting. How about a trip to the Mayor's Office and to City Planning? In those halls the various and ill-thought development "strategies" can be found. And all the ways to shortchange a.k.a. JIP the public too. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Who can we pressure about this?