District 15’s schools have been among the most socio-economically and racially segregated schools in New York City. District 15 includes Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Park Slope, Sunset Park, Red Hook and parts of Downtown Brooklyn.

In the new admissions plan that was implemented this school year 2019/2020, Fifth Grade families continued to rank their middle-school choices but the plan eliminated academic and other screens. The district used a lottery that gave extra weight to students who come from low-income families, are learning English as a new language, or are homeless (FRL, ELL and STH).

This year’s enrollment numbers show that disproportionately white and affluent schools saw some of the most dramatic changes including MS 51 and the New Voices School. Schools serving mostly Hispanic students also experienced notable shifts — but in some cases the changes were less pronounced, suggesting there is still work to be done to convince families to consider a wider range of options for their children.

The concerns that white and more affluent families would flee the public school system or would move into the suburbs “white flight” could not be confirmed. The district’s share of white Sixth Graders remained unchanged compared to last year at 31%.

Council member Brad Lander: “Really mean it when I say that District 15 middle-school integration might be the most encouraging thing happening in NYC this fall. Last year, only 3 of our 11 middle schools met targets for diversity (the rest were overwhelmingly white, or overwhelmingly students of color). This year, 8 out of the 11 schools met our targets for diversity.”

NY Appleseed‘s David Tipson: “I think part of what we’re seeing is that there is a huge benefit to all parents in taking the stress and competition associated with segregation out of choosing a school.  When all schools have a representative balance of students, you don’t have to worry that x school is where are all the affluent families are going or that y school is challenged by an over-representation of high-needs kids or whatever parents worry about.  You can focus more on issues like the philosophy and programs of the school – and whether they are right for your child.”