Buying or renting an apartment in a neighborhood with a zoned school that meets your child’s and family’s needs will save you time and money. If you are not satisfied with your zoned school, you have many excellent options because New York has the most extensive school choice system in America; however, the public school application process can be more gruelling than applying to college. This section will help you learn about the New York City public school system and which districts have the best schools.
You are here
Where to live
New York City
There are zoned elementary, middle and high schools in Queens, Staten Island and nieghborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn. If you are lucky, you can find a neighborhood with great public schools at all levels. If you are moving to the City or moving apartments to find a neighborhood with good zoned schools, consider Riverdale in the Bronx, Bayside or Fresh Meadows in northeastern Queens, Staten Island, as well as District 15 in Brooklyn which covers Carroll Gardens to Sunset Park.
Finding good zoned schools in Manhattan is more difficult. The admission process in Manhattan varies by school level (i.e., elementary, middle and high school) as well as by school district. While all neighborhoods in Manhatten have zoned elementary schools to which you are entitled to attend, District 3 (Upper West Side) in Manhattan has no zoned middle schools. District 3 students are required to choose a middle school from the many options in the district but are not guaranteed admission to a particular one. Moreover, there are no zoned neighborhood high schools in Manhattan; however, students living in District 2 (the west side of 59th Street and the east side south of 96th street, excluding the Lower East Side) have priority at five well- regarded high schools. Thus, if you are considering buying or renting a home in Manhattan, consider District 2 if you can afford it. If you live outside of District 2, there are plenty of very good and some exceptional schools that admit students from all neighborhoods.
The quality of the public schools in Manhattan varies widely by district. Moreover, the complexity of the admissions process differs by school district. For example, District 2 has a great number of terrific zoned middle schools in which parents who live in that neighborhood can simply register for the spring. Although Disctrict 3 has some of the best middle schools in the City, there are no zoned schools and parents must apply to six middle schools--a process which may include school tours, student and parent interviews, entrance exams and even auditions.
Please click on the following link to learn about the differences among the public schools in the six districts in Manhattan.
Brooklyn is home to schools with a wide array of educational philosophies and acadmic performance. One can find truly wonderful schools as well as schools with a long history of poor leadership and performance; however, the quality of schools has improved over the years and a number of choice options are available for parents living in neighborhoods with poor schools. The Brooklyn school system is divided into five regions containing 12 districts.
Please click on the following link to learn more about the differences among the public schools by district in Brooklyn.
Queens is the size of Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn combined, and more than 100 languages are spoken in the borough today due to the large number of immigrants who decided to reside there. Unfortunately, the City was not able to construct enough schools to accomodate all of the residents, resulting in severe overcrowding at some schools. Fortunately, an increasing number of charter schools as well as gifted and talented programs have emmerged to provide parents a choice if they are unsatisfied with their neighborhood school.
Please click on the following link to learn about the differences among the pubilc school by district in Queens.
The Bronx and Staten Island
The Bronx school system is divided into six districts which have been consolidated into three regions; however, school choice still remains at the district level. Although there are some very good schools—particularly new alternative schools—most of the schools in the Bronx are poor, suffering from low test scores, attendance and graduation rates as well as high teacher and principal turnover. There are some very good schools in Riverdale and City Island, but most affluent parents send their children to schools in the Manhattan or to local private schools. To learn about school choice options in Region 1, serving districts 9 and 10, call (718) 741-7090. Similarly, call (718) 828-2440 to inquire about schools in Region 2, serving districts 8, 11 and 12, and call (212) 356-7500 to learn about schools in Region 7.
District 31 serves all of the students in Staten Island. Since many of the Island’s inhabitants are conservative, it is not surprising that most of the schools are traditional, emphasizing the basic skills; however, that style of teaching is slowing changing as innovation and progressive teaching strategies are being introduced. With the increased number of inhabitants, schools on the shore are becoming over crowded, forcing some students to attend the smaller mid-island schools. The district is creating gifted and talented programs and can be reached at (718) 556-8350.