The Little Red Schoolhouse

March 17, 2008 at 10:35 am 1 comment

In Fall ’08, new schools in Queens will add 23,000 new seats for learning. One of those schools will be a new elementary school in Forest Hills, and there is a lot of confusion circulating around both it and PS 196 going forward.

Before we get into this, let it be known that another elementary school, especially one that abruptly halts after 3rd grade, was not what parents necessarily wanted, and there’s a feeling that this contributes to the community-destroying belief that Forest Hills is only a good place to live until middle school.

But other factors are at play besides parent preferences, and as you’ll see from this post, it all starts and ends with PS 196.

The Squeeze at 196

PS 196, one of the gems of the NYC public school system because of its awesome standardized text scores (and all the lovely student preparation that goes into them), is cutting back on its K classes so that it can increase the number of classes it has for grades 2, 3, and 5. Because K is not a mandated grade for kids, this is where PS 196, which has only so many classrooms, felt it had some give. Thus kindergarten at 196 is now going to be by lottery, a necessary evil in a neighborhood whose elementary school population has exploded in the past 5–8 years. If you have not registered your child for kindergarten yet, you need to do so yesterday, so get on the phone, start apologizing, and try to extract some goodwill from 196’s main office: 718-263-9770.

The bottom line is that there is no longer a guarantee that your child will have a spot at 196.

Enter The Little Red Schoolhouse

When you submit your application for PS 196, you can ask that it also specify that you are willing to send your child to PS 3, aka the Academy for Excellence through the Arts. PS 3 will run pre-K to third grade and is located on 69th Avenue at the corner of 110th St. This is the school that has been sitting empty for too many years to count, while every other school in the area was spilling into trailer/makeshift classrooms. I suppose it was either make it a school or let it be razed and resurrected as a McMonstrosity home.

Not much is known yet about PS 3 other than that it will be state of the art (?) and its curriculum will either match or be very close to that of 196, since kids from that school will be funneled into 196 after 3rd grade. Again, PS 196 is increasing its number of these upper-grade classrooms, so there shouldn’t be a problem having your child go there at that time. 3’s curriculum will include Columbia Teacher’s College reading and writing program and either Everyday Math or something very close to it.

Brochures and applications for PS 3 do not exist yet, and calling the number below got me nowhere. If you’re interested in sending your child to PS 3, indicate it on your registration form for 196 (or ask an office person at 196 to do that for you). At this point, it looks like anyone who wants to go to PS 3 should have no problem doing so, and the folks at 196 are actually encouraging this because if you don’t get into 196 and you haven’t applied for PS 3, then you’re out of luck and need to consider either a private school or homeschooling!

Back to 196

Applying to PS 3 (when the apps. are available–keep calling 196 on this) is a crap shoot. We know nothing about it and how well it will run. But in some ways it sounds potentially warm and fuzzy because it will be comprised of all younger kids and they will be shielded throughout the day from a lot of the more complex (read obnoxious) behaviors of the older grades. And because it’s also a new school, you as parent would be getting in on the ground level, forming special bonds with other parents and teachers, too, who are entering unchartered territory.

If you have any interest, though, you have to first apply to 196 and get it down somewhere on the application that you are willing to consider PS 3. Even if you’ve already registered for 196 but would consider 3, it would be advisable to call 196 and strongly let them know you’re flexible in this regard.

PS 3, 108-55 69th Ave., Forest Hills. (718) 935-3974


Entry filed under: education, Forest Hills.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sam G.  |  March 19, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I know a bit about the new school opening in the PS3 site. It is an early childhood center with a strong focus in the arts. I was told that the school will be covering all of the required curriculum and NYS standards but they’re planning on teaching all of these things with a very hands on, creative approach.
    I met the future principal, Barbara Leto, at a meeting the other day. She had been a classroom teacher for many years before becoming a principal. I must say that I was impressed with her knowledge and enthusiasm. She told me that the information she has about registration and enrollment has been coming very slowly from the DOE but that she has been in contact with Ms. Hughes (196) and other members of the school community. Ms. Leto gave me the new school email which is Now that I know more about this issue I think that the new PS3 will be a positive addition to our neighborhood.


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