Brick Underground's Jennifer Karp on what buyers and renters need to know about getting into elementary school [video]

  • In most NYC public school districts, children attend their zoned elementary school
  • But lower enrollment means there are options to go to a school outside a zone
By Brick Underground  | September 11, 2023 - 2:00PM
Jennifer White Karp, the managing editor of Brick Underground, joined NY1 anchor Rocco Vertuccio

Jennifer White Karp, managing editor of Brick Underground, joined NY1 anchor Rocco Vertuccio on Saturday morning.


Back-to-school time is the signal for parents of children under five years old to start doing their homework on how to get into elementary school.

That’s what Jennifer White Karp, Brick Underground’s managing editor, told NY1 anchor Rocco Vertuccio when she joined him for a discussion Saturday morning at NY1’s studio in Chelsea Piers to discuss Brick’s guide for renters and buyers to NYC's public and private elementary schools.

Where you rent or own can impact your options for elementary school. For example, parents who want to send their children to a particular public primary school need to confirm they are in fact zoned for that school.  Don’t make the mistake that befalls some NYC newcomers: Assuming the school just a couple of blocks away is where your child will go to school—zones can be very small, even as narrow as two blocks.

Karp says best way to find out information about your elementary school zone is to go online to sites like InsideSchools, a website with independent reviews of schools and guides to the NYC school system, and NYC’s MySchools, the portal where parents get guidance on the admissions process and create their child’s application.

More opportunities to get into popular schools

However, with enrollment down for NYC schools, there are new opportunities for parents to send their children to schools outside their zone. In the past, Karp pointed, because of overcrowding, there was little chance you could get your child into a school they weren’t zoned for—but that’s changed since the pandemic.

Parents should also research options like choice schools, which are open to all students who live in District 1 on the Lower East Side, District 7 in the Bronx, and District 23 in Brooklyn—so children who live here can go to any elementary school in the district. There are also non-zoned choice schools.

There are also options to consider like charter and private schools as well. School tours sign up in the fall and you can find dates listed on a school’s website.

It can be a lot to navigate, especially if you’re working or busy caring for little ones, so Karp shared a tip from her own experience: Buddy up with one or more other parents and take turns going to tours and sharing your notes with each other.


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