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School Crunch Leaves Local Students Waiting

Charlestown leaders aim to make sure town youth get into kindergarten.

Boston currently has more students applying for kindergarten than the city has slots, which has left Charlestown community leaders and parents uneasy.

In a recent email to Charlestown Patch, a town mother said she feared that the large wait list at Warren-Prescott would force her to move out of the suburbs.

As of late March, to join Warren-Prescott’s kindergarten program, according to a recent Charlestown Patch blog post.

The Warren-Prescott is one of three schools with kindergarten programs within the town’s “walk zone,” according to the Boston Public Schools. The other two, Charlestown’s Harvard-Kent and the North End’s Eliot School, had wait lists of 29 and 68 students, respectively.

According to the Boston Globe, this year’s crunch of kindergarten students springs from a sharp increase in enrollment; 25 percent more students have applied to kindergarten for next fall than did this past fall, which has left hundreds of students without a classroom.

To deal with the influx, Boston Public Schools plans to add more kindergarten space at several schools across the city, including the Harvard-Kent.

For Tom Cunha, chairman of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council, the current challenge reminds him of days gone by.

“It makes me nervous because it reminds me of when I had to move my children out of Boston Public Schools,” Cunha said.

Cunha said Tuesday that he aims to find out more about the situation. Chiefly, he said, he wants a comparison between the number of kindergarten-aged students in Charlestown and the number of kindergarten slots in Charlestown.

Half of the slots at each school within the town’s walk zone will be filled by students from within the zone, according to the school system. The other half will be filled by lottery with students from the North Zone, which stretches from East Boston to the South End to Allston/Brighton. That could mean that Charlestown students won’t get a spot even if enough spaces are available in town—and that’s what Cunha wants to avoid.

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