New York Department of Education eliminates zoned high school option

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Families in New York City are excluded from their local high schools.

The city’s education ministry quietly removed high school zoning, which for decades guaranteed students a place in a school near their homes.

This leaves 8th graders facing more uncertainty as they try to navigate an increasingly confusing admissions system and shatters some families’ long-held plans.

“When my son applied for high school all he had to do was drop out of Queens Metropolitan,” said Rayna Digena, whose address in Woodhaven previously gave her children priority status on the Forest Hills campus.

Her 8th grade daughter Peri, 13, now hopes to join her brother Michael, 16, a junior, at the neighborhood-oriented school of 1,050 students. “She put her whole heart into it.”

But Peri may not be able to enter Queens Metropolitan – or any school in her home neighborhood – when she begins the Byzantine DOE application process.

“I’m very nervous about this,” Digena said, citing concerns about a long drive to a distant school.

The Digena family: (left to right) Peter, Rayna, Peri and Michael.

New York City’s sprawling system of more than 400 high schools previously limited admission to some schools to students or residents of a borough, district, or neighborhood area.

Prior to 2021, some of Manhattan’s most prestigious and competitive schools virtually excluded children who lived outside of District 2. The DOE abandoned these priorities last year.

For next fall, the DOE is removing all geographic restrictions – ending zoned guarantees at 22 major high schools, most in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. They include Francis Lewis, Bayside and Cardozo in Queens; Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn; and Tottenville to Staten Island.

Digena “heard a rumor” about the elimination from the area, but “was not told,” she said.

“When I asked about this at school meetings, the answer was, ‘We’re not sure yet’.

In recent admissions briefings, parents have repeatedly asked questions about the status of zoned high schools – only to receive robot-scripted non-responses from DOE officials.

Students practice yoga in the gymnasium at Bed Stuy Boys and Girls High School.
Students practice yoga in the gymnasium at Bed Stuy Boys and Girls High School.
Stephen yang

“Will there be zoned high schools this year?” a parent asked at a citywide forum on Tuesday.

The response: “We don’t have any updates available on zoned programs yet. ”

Yet according to the new DOE New York City Public Schools Admission Guide 2022: “From the admissions for students entering high school in September 2022, no candidate for high school will have priority to attend a school according to his place of residence.

The Directory of DOE high schools Now lists all of the city’s high schools – and the special programs they contain – as “open to New York residents.” Some leading schools and programs may “screen” students, but the DOE has yet to tell principals what criteria, such as grades, test scores, and interviews, they can use to select children.

Two years ago, about 250 high schools and programs had some type of district, borough, or other residency requirement.

According to the mayor of Blasio, this “limited opportunity for hard-working students to attend some of our most requested schools depending on where they live”.

Students gather in front of Tottenville High School.
Students gather in front of Tottenville High School.
White

Ending priorities “will expand opportunities and increase choice for all growing high school students,” he said in a December press release.

But the DOE has yet to tell principals how to break the news to parents or help them adjust, school sources said.

“It’s confusing,” said Adriana Avila, mother of three and a member of Community Education Council 26 in Queens. “Parents don’t know exactly how this will affect them. “

A PTA father said it hit him “like a punch in the stomach” when a Post reporter showed him page 10 of the DOE admissions guide.

The Queens Metropolitan zoning “was a factor” when the family, who requested anonymity, moved to Forest Hills eight years ago, he said. Her two older children were both going to school and they were planning on having a third child, now in grade 8, to attend as well.

Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens.
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens.
JCRice

“I am shocked to learn that this is happening,” his wife said, adding that parents she knows did not take their children to the entrance test for Catholic schools last week because they thought they would enter zoned schools.

“I really feel like a lot of people don’t know about it. There is going to be a rude awakening.

Donna Russo, a Middle Village real estate agent, said the loss of zoned schools would affect property values.

“A lot of first-time home buyers want to come to a school-based area,” she said. “It may force people who buy a house and pay school taxes to put their children in private schools.”

CEC 26 in Queens, which includes Francis Lewis, Bayside and Cardozo High Schools, adopted a resolution last month, opposing the change.

The DOE has yet to open the application process for next year’s high schools, which is expected to begin after Jan. 1, said Laura Zingmond, editor-in-chief of InsideSchools.com.

It will turn the admissions mess on the knees of the next New York City mayor, Eric Adams. “I don’t know if an Adams administration will do things differently,” Zingmond said.

An Adams spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.


BLURRED ZONE

NY Post composite photo

In the past, many high schools in New York City were “zoned,” meaning they guaranteed a place for any student residing in the neighborhood. Others were reserved for borough or district residents, not allowing any other student to apply. All of these geographic limitations have now been eliminated.

Former zone guarantee schools:

  • Harry S Truman High School – 750 Baychester Avenue, Bronx
  • Abraham Lincoln High School – 2800 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn
  • Boys and Girls High School – 1700 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
  • Fort Hamilton High School – 8301 Shore Road, Brooklyn
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School – 5800 20th Avenue, Brooklyn
  • James Madison High School – 3787 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
  • New Utrecht High School – 1601 80th Street, Brooklyn
  • Bayside High School – 32-24 Caporal Kennedy Street, Bayside
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo High School – 57-00 223rd Street, Bayside
  • Forest Hills High School – 67-01 110th Street, Forest Hills
  • Francis Lewis High School – 58-20 Utopia Parkway, Fresh Meadows
  • Grover Cleveland High School – 21-27 Himrod Street, Ridgewood
  • Hillcrest High School – 160-05 Highland Avenue, Jamaica
  • John Adams High School – 101-01 Rockaway Boulevard, Ozone Park
  • John Bowne High School – 63-25 Main Street, Flushing
  • Long Island City High School – 14-30 Broadway, Astoria
  • William Cullen Bryant High School – 48-10 31st Avenue, Astoria
  • Curtis High School – 105 Hamilton Avenue, Staten Island
  • New Dorp High School – 465 New Dorp Lane, Staten Island
  • Port Richmond High School – 85 St. Josephs Avenue, Staten Island
  • Susan E. Wagner High School – 1200 Manor Road, Staten Island
  • Tottenville High School – 100 Luten Avenue, Staten Island

Former borough schools only:

  • Herbert H. Lehman High School – 3000 East Tremont Avenue, Bronx
  • Riverdale / Kingsbridge Academy – 660 West 237th Street, Bronx
  • Edward R. Murrow High School – 1600 Avenue L, Brooklyn
  • Information Technology High School – 21-16 44th Road, Long Island City
  • Newcomer High School – 28-01 41st Avenue, Long Island City
  • Newtown High School – 48-01 90th Street, Elmhurst
  • Michael J. Petrides School – 715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island

Old district schools only:

  • Midwood High School Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences – 2839 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
  • Robert F. Kennedy Community High School – 75-40 Parsons Boulevard, Fresh Meadow


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