Volume 22, Number 03 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 29 - June 4, 2009
Deal is sealed for pre-K classes in the Village
By Albert Amateau
Village parents who feared there would be no seats in their two zoned schools for their children entering kindergarten in September can breathe easier. The Department of Education reached a lease agreement Fri., May 22, with Greenwich House for space at 27 Barrow St., providing a short-term solution to the over-enrollment at P.S. 41 and P.S. 3.
The agreement calls for space at Greenwich House for three classrooms of pre-kindergarten children, thereby making room in the two Village schools for most of the children on the incoming kindergarten waiting list. It also avoids moving students to crowded Lower Manhattan schools, which had been under consideration.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who organized the task force of elected officials, D.O.E. staff and parents that searched for space for the overcrowded schools, called the lease agreement a great victory.
“Having reached the agreement, we are able to guarantee space for 4-year-olds to attend pre-kindergarten in the neighborhood next year and provide all those on the kindergarten waiting list with a seat,” Quinn said in a prepared statement. “This doesn’t answer all of our overcrowding problems in Greenwich Village or in New York City. But it is a step in the right direction and a real example of what can be accomplished when the community comes together.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, City Councilmembers Alan Gerson and Rosie Mendez, state Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, all members of the task force, joined in the statement.
However, Rebecca Daniels, president of the District 2 Community Education Council, said it was not certain that the three classes of pre-K at Greenwich House would free up space for all the children on the P.S. 41/3 kindergarten waiting list.
Three pre-K classes, at an optimum number of 18 children per class, would account for 54 seats, she noted. The Greenwich Village kindergarten waiting list last week had 79 names, but had been shrinking as parents chose other programs for their children. With the new lease, the Department of Education estimates that the waiting list will disappear when the gifted and talented kindergarten programs in Manhattan offer seats to Village-zoned children.
Daniels, however, said that seats offered at the gifted and talented programs in nearby schools — at P.S. 11 and P.S. 33 in Chelsea — were more likely to attract Village kindergartners than programs on the Lower East Side or the Upper West Side.
“It’s a neighborhood issue. Parents want to be able to walk their children to kindergarten,” she said. “The jury is still out on whether the wait list will disappear by September.”
Daniels, whose education council district also covers Lower Manhattan, Chelsea and the Upper East Side, also noted that overcrowding is an issue throughout the district.
Nevertheless, Daniels said the leasing of the Greenwich House space was a tremendous relief for parents of the Greenwich Village school community.
“I have viewed the 27 Barrow St. space and see this as a very good solution,” she said.
John White, a D.O.E. staff member who has been working with the District 2 C.E.C., told task force members last week that the Greenwich House space is elevator accessible and offers the use of a gymnasium and a play yard.
“It will be a fine space for the children it serves,” White said, adding, “After the 2009-2010 school year, pre-kindergarten service will be returned to P.S. 3 and P.S. 41 where space will have been made available by the relocation of area middle schools.”