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2013-2014 NYC School Calendar

Inside Schools

Kindergarten Connect: 71% get 1st choice - Read Full Article

Kindergarten Connect: 71% get 1st choice

Some 71 percent of the families who applied to kindergarten this year via a new online application system were assigned to the school they ranked first on their application, the city announced today. Another 12 percent got either their second or third choice, the Department of Education said.

Nearly 11 percent -- 7,238 students -- did not get any of their choices and were assigned to schools they didn't apply to; in some cases their zoned school; in others another school in their district. Last year students who weren't accepted at any schools they applied to weren't given an alternate placement until June.

The DOE inaugurated its new "Kindergarten Connect" system in January and, for the first time, families applied to kindergarten online, on the phone or at a DOE enrollment office, rather than submitting separate applications to each school. Instead of being potentially matched to more than one school, this year applicants were given one match. Letters were sent home today to the 67,000 families who applied by the Feb. 20 deadline. Families who have not yet applied, or who have moved since they submitted their application, now may visit the schools in person to apply. All children who turn five years old in 2014 are guaranteed a spot in kindergarten.

63 schools have waitlists for zoned students

The new application allowed families to apply to 20 schools or programs. The DOE said the "streamlined application" helped reduced waitlists at crowded zoned neighborhood schools. Waitlists — a perennial problem at very popular and over-crowded schools — were decreased, by nearly half since 2012, according to DOE data. A still significant number of 63 schools have waitlists for zoned students, down from 125 schools two years ago and 105 schools last year.

Despite the opening of new schools in crowded areas, many of the schools with waitlisted zoned students are repeats of the last few years. The DOE has not released the number of waitlisted students at each school so it's not clear how long the lists are this year. However, in District 30 (Astoria and Long Island City), eight schools have waitlists for zoned students; District 20 (Bay Ridge and Sunset Park) has seven schools with waitlists. Six schools in District 15 have zoned students waitlisted, even in areas which were rezoned, such as Park Slope where, for the first time, PS 321 has a waitlist for zoned students, according to DOE data. Last year the longest waitlists were in Sunset Park at PS 94 and PS 169, and both still cannot accommodate all zoned students. 

On the Upper West Side, PS 87 and PS 199 once again have waitlists. Some of their zoned students were assigned to PS 191. In addition, PS 75 has a waitlist of zoned students as does PS/IS 180, an increasingly popular school in Harlem. Overcrowding continues on the Upper East Side with some families zoned for PS 59 and PS 267 (which opened only four years ago) assigned to PS 281, a new school on the East side of Manhattan that was meant to alleviate over-crowding at PS 116 and PS 59. Downtown, popular PS/IS 276 has a waitlist as well. 

For families who do not get assigned to one of their top picks, or any of their picks, the wait can be intense. "Many parents were distressed to learn that they were assigned to schools they had not even listed," said Robin Aronow of School Search NYC.

A word for anxious parents: Don't panic. Kindergarten waitlists for zoned schools often clear up by June, after some children choose to enroll in charter and private schools or accept offers to gifted and talented programs. "Most, if not all, of these applicants will end up at zoned schools," said Aronow. Our advice is to contact the school and ask where your child is now on the waitlist. Schools will handle the waitlists, a DOE spokesperson said.

In another change this year, all families will automatically remain on a waitlist for schools they listed higher on their application than the school to which they were matched. In the past, parents had to go to each school and ask to be placed on a waitlist.  

"We're proud the waitlists have shortened and will continue our work to connect students with their zoned schools," a DOE spokesperson said in a statement. "We're thrilled more than 80 percent of our students were offered a seat at one of their top three kindergarten choices."

Was old system better?

Some disappointed parents say they preferred the old system, where they submitted applications at each school and students were matched by people in the school office, not by a computer algorythm.

"It wasn't exactly perfect but at least you could talk to someone face to face about your unique situation," said Rachel Ford, a Queens parent whose daughter was not assigned to the same school her older brother attends, even though she is enrolled in pre-kindergarten there. "The people in the office would've known who you were."

Ford's son is enrolled in an ASD Nest program for high-functioning students on the autism spectrum at PS 84 in Brooklyn. Though not zoned for PS 84, Ford only listed that school on her daughter's application, thinking she had a good chance because both her daughter and son attend the school.  Her daughter ended up being assigned to their neighborhood school, PS 150, in Queens. 

"PS 150 is a lovely school but it has no NEST program," she said. "It's a burden on our family to pick up children in two different places. It's very sad right now to be in limbo."

Ford's family was not the only one disappointed by the kindergarten match process this year at PS 84: she said six of the 18 families in her daughter's pre-k class were not given spots in a PS 84 kindergarten. Interestingly, the school was given the go-ahead to expand, adding middle school grades, and it doesn't have a waitlist for zoned students.

Brooklyn schools consultant Joyce Szuflita gives the new system a cautious "thumbs-up."

"I'm happy that the number of schools that have to send students to schools outside of their neighborhoods is going down," she said.  "It sounds pretty positive — unless you're in that 10 percent [that weren't assigned to a school on their list]."

Download the list of schools with a waitlist for zoned students here: Schools_with_zoned_waitlists_april_2014.pdf










Our guide to pre-kindergarten - Read Full Article

Our guide to pre-kindergarten

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month that the city will add more than 4,200 new full-day pre-k seats at 140 public schools in September. The staff of Insideschools has developed this guide to help you find a high-quality pre-kindergarten program for your child.

We created an interactive map that illustrates where the pre-k programs are located around the city. It shows how many seats are available this year, and how many applicants each school had last year.

We also posted our recommendations for schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, for Brooklyn, and for Queens and Staten Island. (To see the full pre-k directory, including new programs opening in the fall, click here to download the PDF.)

These lists only include pre-kindergarten programs that are housed in ordinary public schools. That's because the deadline for applying for these programs is April 23. The city is also developing thousands of new pre-kindergarten seats in community based organizations, child care centers, libraries and public housing projects — not included here. When the city publishes a list of those programs, we'll let you know.

We recommend that you apply online to the pre-kindergarten programs based in schools. If you miss the April 23rd deadline, there will be other chances to apply, but the most popular programs fill up fast. If you need help on the telephone, we recommend you call the Center for Children's Initiatives, a referral and information service that's a great resource for parents: 212-929-6911. You can also use their website.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the new seats are in schools that have extra room — not in the overcrowded or super-popular schools that can barely fit all the kindergarten students who live in their attendance zones. Parents on the Upper West Side in Manhattan or in much of Brownstone Brooklyn face tough odds if they apply to a lottery for pre-k at their neighborhood schools. Some schools have no pre-kindergarten at all.

However, schools in Harlem and the Lower East Side have lots of pre-kindergarten seats. In Brooklyn, there are new seats in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Crown Heights, East New York, Canarsie and Flatbush. In Queens, there are new seats in Astoria, Long Island City, Flushing and the Rockaways. There is a big expansion of seats in Staten Island. 

We drew up our lists of "best bets" based on visits to schools by the Insideschools staff over the past few years. We also recommended a few schools that we haven't visited recently, based on the results of the city's surveys of teachers and parents. We tried to identify promising schools that may have room, rather than schools that are hopelessly oversubscribed — like PS 9 Sarah Anderson on the Upper West Side, which received over 600 applications for 36 pre-k seats last year. 

On our visits, we found that schools that are solid overall tend to have good pre-kindergarten classes, too. But we also found that some schools have terrific pre-kindergarten classes, even if the rest of the school isn't great. Many pre-k programs have bathrooms right in the classroom, playgrounds just for the little kids, and lunch served in class. 

Included in this list are under-the-radar schools like PS 200 The James McCune Smith School in Harlem, where we saw elements that make for a solid pre-k program, including blocks, a fish tank, a safe outdoor play area, a bathroom inside the classroom, and a thoughtful mix of play and academic learning. Plus, the assistant principal is Montessori trained. The school will expand to five pre-k classrooms in the fall.

If you are uncertain about quality call the school and set up a visit. Seats continue to fill over the summer but those of you who meet the April 23 deadline are more likely to get what you want.

What to look for in a pre-kindergarten

NPR produced a great video called "What Exactly is High Quality Pre-school". Watch it on WNYC.


Here's what we look for on our visits:

—A neat and inviting classroom; not cluttered and messy

—Engaged children; every child should be busy with an activity

—Children should not have to sit still listening for more than 15-20 minutes

—Variety in the children’s art (not “cookie cutter” art)

—Plants and animals

—Plenty of books

—Labels and signs paired with pictures

—A play area where kids can pretend (kitchen, shoe store, wood shop)

—Puzzles, LEGOS, counters, art supplies, blocks, water table

—A bathroom in the classroom or no more than three doors away

—A safe, enclosed, outdoor play yard

—Lunch in the classroom

—A teacher who moves around, rather than sitting behind a desk

—A time to rest, but not enforced naptime

—Patient, caring teachers

—Welcoming to parents

For details on how to apply, see our post.

(updated  April 22,2014 with link to NPR video on quality pre-school)

Our pre-k picks: Queens & Staten Island - Read Full Article

Our pre-k picks: Queens & Staten Island

Queens will have more than 1,500 new pre-k seats this fall. Unfortunately, most are clustered in the southeast and other areas of Queens where there’s little demand — rather than in the very overcrowded northeast section. 


Corona, Glendale and Elmhurst

There are 90 new full-day pre-k seats opening up in District 24, a densely populated section of Queens that is home to many immigrants, but it won’t be enough to satisfy demand. Overcrowding persists despite the opening of several new schools in recent years. One possibility: The Children’s Lab School, a new school opening in the fall, will offer two full-day pre-k classes.

Flushing and Whitestone

District 25 has many well-regarded, neighborhood schools — but the competition for full day pre-k is fierce. Three wildly popular early childhood schools — PS 130, PS 242 and the Active Learning Elementary School--receive several hundred applications each. PS 169 is another good pre-k pick if you can manage to get your child in. It will offer two full-day pre-k classes for a total of 36 seats, although last year the school received almost 300 applications. Your best bet: PS 201 is adding two additional classes for a total of four. Our reviewer called the school “charming” and the Department of Education rated it “well-developed,” the highest rating.


For kindergarten, you can’t go wrong in District 26 in northeast Queens, long the city's highest achieving district. Unfortunately, pre-k is hopelessly oversubscribed and there are no new seats — only a conversion of half-day classes to full-day seats at PS 159.

South Ozone Park and the Rockaways

District 27 is the southernmost district in Queens and reaches to the farthest seashores of Far Rockaway. There’s plenty of room in this district. A new school opening in the fall, PS 316 Queens Explorer’s Elementary, will offer two pre-k classes.

Central Queens: Forest Hills, Jamaica, Rego Park Kew Gardens

Overcrowding is a problem in schools across District 28. The schools in the more prosperous northern communities such as Forest Hills and Kew Gardens perform better than schools located in the poorer, southern section such as South Jamaica. The wildly popular PS 303, also called The Academy for Excellence Through the Arts, received 437 applications for 36 full day pre-k seats last year. You may have better luck at PS 175, a popular, orderly school with solid academics that is adding three full day classes.

Southeast Queens

Parents in District 29 in the southeast corner of Queens have many new options for pre-k in the fall. Our pick: PS 251, which has overwhelming positive responses on parent and teacher surveys.

Astoria, Long Island City

Home to an eclectic mix of longtime Greek-American residents, new immigrants from Latin America, young artists, and middle class families from all backgrounds, District 30 has mostly strong, traditional elementary schools. Unfortunately, the most popular pre-k classes are very hard to get into including PS 222, which drew over 350 applicants last year for its half-day classes, and tiny PS 228 Early Childhood, which received over 400 applicants for its morning program.


On Staten Island most pre-kindergarten programs fill up with families from the neighborhood zone and there is not enough space to meet demand.  One bright spot: the ever-popular Michael J. Petrides School, open to children from all over the island, has 36 new pre-k seats. On our visit, we found two outdoor playgrounds on a 43-acre campus and kindergartens stocked with blocks, LEGO, and play corners.


School Book

Opinion: My Risky School Choice is Paying Off - Read Full Article

One year ago, I was worried about the middle school choice process in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Admissions interviews for my son and other fifth graders were about to begin and anxiety ran high.

The thing is, I never could have imagined how well things turned out.

This realization hit me recently when I was in the audience for a student show at Park Slope Collegiate, a combined middle and high school in the John Jay building. There was an earnest middle school glee club that sang “Stand By Me,” as older teenagers waved their arms back and forth, snapping their fingers and dancing in support. Then, a senior girl belted out a stirring rendition of “I Am the Highway,” with a group of younger guitar students playing back-up.

As I watched, a hand from behind reached over for my camera. The physical education teacher offered to videotape the show for me - she knew she had a better angle to reach the guitarist in the second row, a new sixth grader who happened to be my son.

Park Slope Collegiate was never on our list this time last year. I had taken note of Principal Jill Bloomberg’s impressive presentation at a middle school forum but the uninspiring statistics on achievement levels hampered my curiosity. But then, sometime in the early spring, a fellow parent at P.S. 321 shared a vision she felt passionately about: bringing together students of diverse academic levels, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds in a small setting that celebrated difference, maintained a tight-knit community and sought out parent voices to help shape the school.

A few months later, we decided to join the group spearheading a plan for students from the highly regarded P.S. 321 to move to this largely overlooked gem. It was an unexpected outcome to a fraught middle school search process, one that ended with a hopeful nod but also with new questions.

Were we helping open up an important world of diversity to our son? Contributing to much needed social change and equity in education? Or, on the down side, might he miss out on the valuable learning opportunities offered by the top schools in the district? Moreover, despite Principal Bloomberg’s amazing talent, the physical plant left much to desire. During a school tour in May, she challenged children and families to count the electrical outlets in a particular classroom that had only one. (New construction improvements are underway this year, thanks partly to the energy and tenacity of new sixth grade families.)

Overall, we have been heartened by what now feels like good fortune. My son is proud to wear his PSC t-shirt. When I peek over homework assignments, I learn new things. I attend meetings in which the principal provides simultaneous Spanish interpretation, and enjoy the camaraderie of bake sales. I try to count up all the countries of origin of students and their families in this year’s class photo. In November, I presented to high school students on their Career Day, and marveled at the school’s warm and welcoming feel.

At the recent musical performance, I was glad to sit next to fellow sixth grade parents who had invited me to join them. We had met the week before at a PTA meeting, speaking in both English and Spanish together and sharing our hopes for our children’s education at PSC. Perhaps most gratifying, the sense of trust and collaboration among students and faculty seems to protect against the more competitive challenges to a social pecking order that can characterize middle schoolers of this age, at least for now.

From my vantage point, my son and his peers are notably comfortable with themselves and each another. And yet, as someone who has followed trends in school diversity, I know that for every hopeful step toward equity, a multitude of factors can hold back progress. I know that educators can get caught between wanting high academic expectations on the one hand and fostering an inclusive learning environment on the other.

My son recently accused me of being “mean” and “strict” after I had questioned his approach to a persuasive essay assignment. Despite my concern about his seemingly weakly supported statements, he argued that his teacher had already approved them. I wondered out loud whether friends in other local middle schools would be allowed to submit similar essays. But his answer, that at PSC they go “step by step,” quieted me.

One year ago, I worried about how he would answer questions on middle school interviews. Now I want to learn about the other schools in New York that have managed to get the right mix of inspired leadership, passionate educators, school-family partnerships and a diverse student body. I fear that there are not many but, for those few, it’s a potent and promising recipe.


2013–14 School Year
NYS Testing Schedule

(Elementary & Intermediate Schools)

NYCDOE Parent Guide to Student Participation on State Tests.

NY State Dept. of Education Memorandum on Student Participation on State Tests. 
 (This memo is referenced in the DOE’s Parent Guide)



Family and Community Engagement Parent Leader Updates 


March 29—Pre-K Outreach Event (Bronx)

March 29— Parent Academy (Queens)

April 3 — District 29 Town Hall with Chancellor Fariña

April 8— District 11 Town Hall with Chancellor Fariña

April 23—Pre-K Admissions Deadline

April 25—Summer Youth Employment Application Deadline

More Info

School Admissions News

Additional Pre-K Seats Announced for 2014-2015 School Year
Read More....

High School Admissions Update
As Round 1 of High School Admissions comes to a close, we'd like to share some helpful updates to support your next steps: 

Round 1 High School Admissions Results
Round 1 result letters, which include Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and LaGuardia High School audition results, will be distributed by your current school (both public and private/parochial) during the week of March 10, 2014. If you have any questions about your high school match, please speak with your guidance counselor. 

Round 2 of High School Admissions
All 8th grade and first time 9th grade students can participate in Round 2 of High School Admissions, including students who received an offer in Round 1. For students who are not satisfied with their Round 1 offer and choose to participate in Round 2, please note:

  • If you do not receive an offer in Round 2, you will keep your Round 1 offer.
  • If you receive an offer in Round 2, you will forfeit your Round 1 offer. You will not be able to choose between the two offers. We will not consider an appeal back to your Round 1 offer. 

In Round 2, students can apply to new high schools opening in September 2014 and other programs with available seats. Beginning the week of March 10th, the Round 2 Application will be available through your guidance counselor. The Directory of New Schools and the Round 2 Program List will also be available on the high school website the week of March 10th.

Round 2 high school admissions applications and Round 1 responses are due back to your guidance counselor on Friday, March 21, 2014.

Round 2 High School Fair
Join us for the Round 2 High School Fair to learn about your high school options, including new schools opening in 2014:

Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16, 2014
11:00 am – 2:00 pm each day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Campus
122 Amsterdam Avenue (between West 65th and West 66th Streets)
New York, NY 10023

At the fair, you will be able to meet with school representatives and enrollment counselors.  

For more information about Round 2 of High School Admissions or the Round 2 High School Fair, please visit the high school website or email

We look forward to guiding you through Round 2!  

NYCDOE High School Admissions Team

Community Events

Summer Opportunities

  1. Learning Curve Summer 2014 – Teen S.T.E.A.M.D. Business Accelerator Program (Science Tech Engineering Art Math + Design)—April 7

Are you a teen with a great idea? Do you dream of making the next Snapchat, Facebook, or Grand Theft Auto? Do you build and invent? Do you design your own clothes, or make your own music and beats? Are you working on a film? Are you eager and ready to learn how to turn your ideas, inventions, crafts and art into a business. If this is you, we encourage you to APPLY to Learning Curve, the first and only S.T.E.A.M.D (Science Tech Engineering Art Math + Design) business incubator for teens in New York City. Learning Curve is a summer program that teaches teens how to launch a Start-up in 30 days. Our program is designed to teach 3 major things: 1. Tech Skills -- Coding, Game Development, Engineering 2. Business Skills -- Customer Development, Strategy, Financing Your Business 3. Design Skills -- Product Design & Development . The application deadline is by April 7th . Students may e-mail applications to For more information, print a program overview or visit their website.

  1. Summer Youth Employment Application — April 25 (High School)

The 2014 Summer Youth Employment application is now available. The application deadline is April 25, 2013. SYEP is a six week summer employment program open to youth between the ages of 14 and 24. Participants work up to 25 hours a week from July to August in a variety of entry-level jobs including government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, and retailers. For questions regarding the application process, please contact DYCD Youth Connect at 1-800-246-4646 or visit their website.

  1. Fresh Air Fund Summer Opportunities

The Fresh Air Fund provides summer experiences for youth, including its summer camp program or Voluntary Host Family Program. Applications are now being accepted at different locations. To apply, visit Call 1-800-367-0003 for more information.


Upcoming Events

Wednesday, April 23
School Resumes



Tuesday, April 29
District 3 Leadership Team
District 3 Leadership Team Meeting
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Joan of Arc Complex

154 W. 93 St.

Room 204
Wed, Apr 30 - Fri, May 2
Standardized Testing
State Math Tests Grades 3-8
Wednesday, May 7
Business Meeting
6:30 PM
Joan of Arc Complex
154 W. 93rd St
Room 204
Wednesday, May 14
CSD3 Parent Forum
Understanding the CSD3 Middle School Choice Process
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Joan of Arc Auditorium
154 W. 93rd St.

CEC3 News

To join the CEC3 Email List, 

please send your name and email address to

CEC3 2013-2014 Strategic Plan Document

Adopted at January Joint CSD3 Presidents' Council/CEC3 Calendar Meeting

CEC3 Vacancy! 
Applications are now being accepted to fill the vacant ELL seat on the District 3 Community Education Council

All applicants must be a parent/guardian of  an ELL student currently attending a District 3 elementary and middle school

Contact the CEC3 Office for more information at or (212) 678-2782


Congratulations to the New CEC3 Student Member
 Tyree Etheridge!

2013-2015 District 3 Community Education Council
 President -  Joseph Fiordaliso
1st Vice President - Theresa Hammonds
2nd Vice President - Noah Gotbaum
Secretary - J. Conrad Fagan
Treasurer - Barbara Denham

Olaiya Deen

Parent at PS 191

Barbara Denham

Parent at PS 166 & MS 54

J. Conrad Fagan

Parent at PS 163

Joseph Fiordaliso

Parent at PS 199

Zoe G. Foundotos

Parent at PS 87 & PS 452

Noah Gotbaum

Parent at MS 243 & MS 245

Theresa L.C. Hammonds

Parent at PS 242

Michele Sweeting-Decaro

Parent at PS 165


Elections in the Fall

John Fitzsimons

Borough President Appointee

Donna Veronica Gill

Borough President Appointee

Education Reports

District 3 State Testing Parent Workshop
Given by District 3 Superintendent Ilene Altschul on February 25, 2014
PowerPoint Presentation

Citywide Council on High Schools (CCHS)
Releases Annual Report
Click here for the report

SCA Proposed 2015-2019 Capital Plan
Click Here

District 3 December 11, 2013 Capital Plan Presentation
Click Here

2012-13 PROGRESS REPORT RELEASE FOR ALL GRADES to see your child’s 2012-13 school progress report.


2012-13 State Test Results
City, Borough, District and School

2011-2012 New York State Report Card for District 3
District 3 Report Card

Citywide Council on English Lanuage Learners (CCELL)
2011-1013 Annual Report

New Toolkit
Bringing Attendance Home:
Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence

Visit Attendance Works for the toolkit Bringing Attendance Home: Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence with ideas and resources to improve attendance. This toolkit contains activities and materials that can spark conversations with parents about good attendance practices.  

SCA District 3 Capital Plan Hearing Presentation
Presented at the 1/23/13 Joint CSD3 Presidents' Council/CEC3 Meeting