School is a hot topic of discussion when you live in NYC, especially when real estate is involved -- private versus public, which districts or zones to live in, waitlists and deadlines, etc. As a real estate agent, there are legal and practical limitations what we can discuss with clients on this topic. But I'm excited to share with you some valuable information I learned attending last week's Compass-hosted talk with speakers Maura Wollner and Victoria Goldman, authors of “The Manhattan Family Guide - Private Schools and Selective Public Schools":
Kindergarten remains the main point of entry for private schools, but parents are increasingly waiting to enter private schools until the middle school level.
Many Downtown residents are flocking to the private Riverdale campus schools, which previously drew mostly from the Upper East and Upper West Sides and Westchester. This trend is in part due to new transportation options (express student buses) that have made the commute much less of an issue.
We've all heard about wait lists for competitive public primary schools. According to Maura and Victoria, the key is early registration. While there is a lengthy registration window, parents who register as soon as registration opens maximize their chances of landing coveted spots.
With the roll-out of UPK (universal pre-k) ongoing, there is already talk of a new program called Free 3’s, which would ensure free public education for kids as young as 3 years old. Private pre-k's have been bracing themselves for a drop in enrollments due to the combination of these programs. This may mean a break for parents competing for these programs and greater access to quality pre-k programs for all.
If you have specific questions, there are loads of resources and community boards online (e.g., NY DOE and School Digger). Many neighborhoods host information sessions where you can learn about deadlines and requirements and also get an introduction to school options (public, private, charter). If you'd rather save yourself the time and effort, you can invest in an information session with a professional who specializes in navigating this thorny landscape.