Downtown schools face budget penalties

While some Lower Manhattan elementary schools are overcrowded, others are faced with lower student enrollment numbers — and budgetary concerns. Fewer students mean that principals lose funding.

The principals discussed their enrollment numbers at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s School Overcrowding Task Force on Oct. 23.

Ronnie Najjar, the principal of P.S. 89, said there are 86 kindergarteners, while there should be four sections of 25.

“So we’re 14 under enrolled, which is a concern of mine because it really does affect our budget tremendously,” she said.

The kindergarten through 5th grade school has a total of 405 students, which Najjar said is also quite low.

“We used to have a healthy 550 and we’re down a lot of kids,” she said. “We lost a huge chunk of residences that went to Terri’s school, which is I know creating the opposite effect for her. But we are much lower than I expected at this time.”

P.S. 276 Principal Terri Ruyter said that she has four full classes of kindergarten with around 20 kids still on the waitlist. There is also a waitlist for first grade, with P.S 276 having three classes of 32.

“Those are really big first grade classes in fairly small classrooms,” she said.

P.S. 234 also has lower enrollment with 730 students, down from 785 from the previous year. Principal Lisa Ripperger had expected a higher number, said Erica Davis. The school has six classes of kindergarten for a total of 143 students, she said.

For Peck Slip School, Principal Maggie Siena said that there are 69 kindergarteners and that there was room for six more students. There are 42 students in first grade and 48 second graders with a total of 159 students at the Tweed Courthouse.

P.S. 150 Principal Jenny Bonnet was not at the meeting, but according to figures sent to Community Board 1, there are 28 students in kindergarten, 26 in first, 27 in second, 30 in third, 28 in fourth and 27 in fifth. P.S. 150 has one class per grade. 

Spruce Street School Principal Nancy Harris was also not at the meeting, but she submitted her enrollment numbers. Spruce Street has 87 in pre-K, 70 in kindergarten, 60 in first grade, 69 in third, 48 in fourth and 46 in fifth.

— Dusica Sue Malesevic

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