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Plan B: Alternatives For NYC Parents Unhappy With Their Public School 2022 Options

Changes in admissions for New York City public middle and high schools have left many parents on edge, wondering what choices their children will have for September 2022. Meanwhile, the families of younger children are still waiting for word on whether there will even be a Gifted & Talented elementary option moving forward. (Read our take on what we expect to happen with that, here.) 

Last year, when the Gifted & Talented test was scrapped, screening was removed for all middle schools, and many high schools opted for a modified lottery, so many students were assigned to schools they found unacceptable that thousands were forced to spend the summer scrambling for alternatives.

This year, in order to get a head start on the process of procuring a Plan B, our list of what you can still do if the 2022 public school application process doesn’t go your way:

Charter Schools:

Charter schools are publicly funded schools, meaning they do not charge tuition. Charter schools need to follow the same NY state curriculum as traditional public schools, and give the same state tests, but they have more flexibility on how they educate their students, which sometimes includes longer school days and years, freedom to hire and fire their own teachers, specific pedagogical themes and more. 

The best part about charter schools is that you can apply to them in parallel with the public school process. You do not need to rank your choices against your public school ones, and it is possible to receive offers from both a traditional public and a public charter school. Last year, I applied to charter as well as public high schools for my daughter, and this is what happened

You apply to some charter schools directly, and to others via a common app. The majority of charter schools hold their lotteries on April 1, and there is absolutely nothing to lose by throwing your child’s hat into the ring. More choices, I tell the parents I work with, is always better than fewer.

Info on select charter schools and networks at:

Religious Schools:

Religious schools are private schools which do charge tuition, but it is often considerably less than the sums charged by independent schools, with financial aid sometimes available on top of that.

Applications to religious schools skyrocketed last year, and financial aid is often first-come, first-served, so if you are even vaguely considering that option, we advise starting the process sooner rather than later. If you wait until public school placements are out, you may be competing with many more families than if you apply before those notifications are available.

More on religious schools:

Independent Schools:

Independent schools can have a religious component, but the majority are secular. And expensive. And extremely competitive to get into (think 800 applications for 50 seats). At this point in the year, it’s unlikely that the “big name” schools like Dalton, Trinity, Horace Mann, Collegiate, Brearley, and St. Anne’s still have spaces – or financial aid – available.

However, there are numerous under the radar, wonderful independent schools which offer rigorous academics along with small class size, STEM courses, the arts, etc… which might still have openings at all grade levels – and either some financial aid or substantially lower tuition.

Examples include: 

While, last summer, I was able to help multiple families find alternatives to public schools, it’s not optimal to go through the process last minute. The sooner you start, the more choices you’ll have, both for schools and for costs.

Good luck! And in the spirit of parents helping parents, please share this post far and wide, and add other schools you know of which may have availability for fall 2022 in the comments below!

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