HINT: It’s Not Just “More Space…”
Lots of city families move to the suburbs before their kids are “real” school age—in or right before the preschool years or, sometimes, before kindergarten starts. And it makes sense. Many moms and dads want to make sure their kids are settled in their new schools for the long haul, versus pulling them out and away from their friends down the road.
But sometimes the circumstances motivating these moves isn’t so cut-and-dry. Sure, mom and dad want their preK’er or soon-to-be kindergartener in their “forever” school before September rolls around—but they’d intended that school to be in the city.
Why It’s All About UPK, Kindergarten Offers & Rezoning
Thanks to NYC’s relatively new Universal PreK (UPK) program with its lotteries and sibling priorities as well as the too-high demand for some of the city’s top public kindergartens—paired with the same lotteries, sibling priorities and preferential admissions—more and more families are finding themselves without a spot in their neighborhood school. And, often, those parents moved to that particular neighborhood because of that school, buying apartments and integrating their families into the community.
Pair that with the rezoning and rapid growth and real estate development in many desirable, family-friendly hotspots around the city, and it’s easy to see why so many parents are very disappointed when preK and kindergarten offer letters start to roll in. Sure, their kids got spots—but where? Is it a good school? Is it close enough to their home? And, at the end of the day, is this assigned school what they want for their kids?
Moving for the School—Then Not Getting the School
It’s happening all the time in NYC. In Forest Hills, Queens, P.S. 196—the Grand Central Parkway School—draws countless Manhattan families to the neighborhood in the years leading up to preK, so kids can secure a coveted spot in the school. But now that it’s a designated UPK school, it’s all about sibling priority—kids with a sibling in the school have a better shot of getting a preK spot than those who don’t.
Last year, though, many incoming preK kids with a sibling in the school didn’t get the offer they’d hoped for—even with the priority, many still found themselves on an endless wait list, and a spot at a school not in their neighborhood. And kids with no sibling in the school but the “right” address? They simply couldn’t snag a spot. It continued this year, according to one of our Forest Hills locals, though she said recently the last few rising kindergartners made their way OFF the waitlist. But that only happened after some families put down private school deposits and enrolled their kids elsewhere.
The same has been happening in Long Island City. P.S./I.S. 78Q is a popular choice for many families who plunk down millions to live on the LIC waterfront. But because in recent years there have been too many kids to accommodate in the preK program, many families have been pushed to look for private school options—which, on LIC mama shared, now require tuition be paid before the preK offer letters drop. While this keeps the schools from losing students to the local public schools, it also forces parents to make a very costly decision before they know all of their options.
Upper West Side Rezoning Leaves Some Kids OUT
The same thing is happening in Manhattan and Brooklyn—as is rezoning, year after year. This year, P.S. 166, the Richard Rodgers School of Arts & Technology on the Upper West Side, is caught in the middle of a parental firestorm after rezoning left a building on West 89th Street and Amsterdam out of their borders. Many families in the building had moved for this top elementary school and, now, are scrambling to figure out what next for their young kids—kids they expected would start at P.S. 166 in the fall.
While rezoning is a reality anywhere, it’s particularly hard-hitting in NYC when you layer in the limited seats and fact that a single block could be segmented for multiple schools. And because it’s NYC, parents don’t have school buses and cars to zip their kids to and from class—if they don’t get into a good elementary school in the neighborhood, the “school commute” could take hours each day.
The end result? For many city families it’s private school—and that means paying up well before they know if their kids have spots in the local public kindergartens and preKs. For others it means rolling the dice and, if it doesn’t work out, literally selling their homes, packing up their families and moving to the ‘burbs. At least here you know exactly where your kid’s going to school from K-12. We’re seeing it every single day as more and more city families get in touch to find the right ‘burb before back-to-school. And when they do, we’re here to help dig in and get them settled in their suburb and their “forever” school.
Suburban Jungle is an award-winning firm that specializes in moving families from urban to suburban. The company’s innovative “town first” approach helps buyers find the right suburb for their family based on personality and lifestyle, not just the house. Services are FREE and fully customized to each family and their unique journey. To learn more and to connect with a Suburbs Strategist, and find the place your family truly fits in visit www.suburbanjunglerealty.com and click GET STARTED.