Volume 78 / Number 13, August 27 - September 2, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Back to School

Villager file photo

Jack Voltz, 6, with his polar bear at P.S. 3’s “zoo” last spring, an art project at the Hudson St. school.

Local families luck out with public school lottery

By Gabriel Zucker

Thankfully for youngsters and parents in the West Village, the lottery implemented to balance enrollment between Public Schools 3 and 41 this year has not yet deprived any family of their first-choice school.

“Everyone did get into their first choice in the lottery this year,” said Andy Jacob, a Department of Education spokesperson.

The lottery was created earlier this year as part of D.O.E.’s blueprint to address School District 2 overcrowding, and is used to balance admission to the two schools, which share the same zone for students. According to Jacob, “P.S. 41 tends to be the more popular school,” operating at a capacity of 117 percent, compared to P.S. 3’s 111 percent.

The blueprint also called for the creation of separate zones for the two schools, to eventually perform the work of a lottery.

As a more long-term goal, D.O.E. intends to create a new elementary school at Eighth Ave. and W. 16th St. in space formerly occupied by the Foundling Hospital. There is talk of creating another elementary school at the site of the former Police Academy on E. 20th St., and several other middle and high schools may be in the works for District 2, as well.

The overcrowding issue has come to the forefront in recent months as many New York elected officials, including Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, have made putting pressure on D.O.E. a top priority. But Jacob took the fact that the lottery had not gone against any families’ desires as a good sign regarding overcrowding.

“It seems that, so far, with the incoming class we don’t have an overcrowding problem,” Jacob said.

But to Lisa Siegman, principal of P.S. 3, overcrowding is still a very real issue.

“We just have to take smaller kids,” she joked, before explaining the real strategies that P.S. 3 and Greenwich Village Middle School — which shares the same building — are pursuing.

“We’re doing some reconfiguring,” she said, “and turning some resource rooms back into classrooms.” She mentioned downsizing parent and after-school rooms, and using large lockers in the hallways for supplies.

The changed admissions procedures have also affected P.S. 3 in more ways than the lottery.

“We’re kind of the alternative school, and we used to get a lot of students from outside the zone,” said Siegman, referring to a plan that is being phased out under the D.O.E. blueprint.

“It’s a difficult situation and I think everyone’s trying to do their best to send people to the school they want to attend,” she said.

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