While NYC has its fair share of single people and is mostly known as a place that never sleeps, there are also plenty of families who call the Big Apple home. If you’re thinking about raising kids here, you might be wondering about the quality of the local schools and whether or not you’d have to enroll your kids in private school in order to give them a good education.
A lot of New Yorkers with kids go that route—but this city also has some great public schools as well!
The structure of the NYC public school system
The NYC Department of Education is divided into 32 “community school districts”, which is then divided up into smaller zones which determine what local school serves a given area. Typically, children who are enrolled in the public school system are just assigned schools based on their home address. However, there are a few districts that don’t have zoned schools and are known as “choice districts”. In these areas, students who live nearby rank their preferred schools when applying. Many public schools also offer their own special programs which can include gifted and talented education, English language learner’s education, and small learning communities, among other things.
NYC’s public school system is the largest in the United States and includes 1,800 schools. The district currently has 1.1 million students, and an annual budget of almost $25 billion. In 2018, NYC spent $26,869 per student, which is its highest compared to previous years.
Using Localize to help you find a home near a good school
Apartment hunting can be a stressful and time consuming task—especially if you have young children to care for. With Localize, we can not only help you find a space perfect for you and your family, but ensure you live in the same zone as a highly rated school.
When filtering for listings on our site, simply click on “Add needs” located on the map on the right side of the screen, then check “Highly-rated schools”. Once you search a borough or neighborhood, Localize will filter your search and show listings that best match your needs, where 100% match listings will be shown first. With this search filter, you won’t need to go through the hassle of manually searching through apartments one by one to see which schools are in its zone.
NYC’s top 10 best elementary schools
If you’re still curious about the high-rated public schools in NYC, here are just ten of the best elementary schools in the city. We showcased various schools in all five boroughs along with nearby apartments for rent NYC that are within the school’s zone.
1. Battery Park City School
Battery Park City School is one of the best elementary schools in Manhattan and serves Pre-K and K-8. The school opened in 2009 and is New York’s first green public school building. Not only do students here perform above average on state tests, but are also above average in year-over-year academic improvement.
Battery Park City School also serves its disadvantaged students well and has special education through a modified form of Integrated Co-Teaching. The school also has a strong science program, plenty of extra enrichment activities, and Spanish instruction starting in the 1st grade.
2. East Side Elementary School, P.S. 267
East Side Elementary School is found on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and serves grades K-5. It was first opened in 2010 and is an eight-story building that has a roomy lunchroom, large gym, modern classrooms, and music room. Students here perform above average on state tests and in year-over-year academic improvement.
They have a 92% proficiency in math, which is higher that the state average of 50% and a 90% english proficiency that is higher than the 46% state average. The school’s location is well placed to allow children to explore the city’s museums and class trips are frequent.
Additionally, the New York Historical Society helps teachers create lessons to help the students learn about the city and its neighborhoods. East Side Elementary School is wheelchair accessible and has special education with one integrated co-teaching class in every grade.
3. P.S. 40 Augustus Saint-Gaudens
P.S. 40 Augustus Saint-Gaudens is located in Gramercy in Manhattan and is an important part of the close-knit neighborhood. It is located on the bottom three floors of a historic-five story building and serves Pre-K and grades K-5.
They offer integrated co-teaching classrooms for each grade where students with special needs are mixed with the general education students. Students at PS 40 perform at high levels and both the teachers and administration are committed and are opened to continued learning.
4. P.S. 87 William Sherman
P.S. 87 William Sherman is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and serves Pre-K and K-5. The school is known for its passionate teachers, active parents, and commitment to the arts. They also have a popular dual language Spanish-English program which allows students to be proficient in both languages.
P.S 87 William Sherman has plenty of special education support including SETSS (special education teacher support services) and ICT (integrated co-teaching) classes for every grade level. They also offer speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy and counseling.
5. P.S. 321 William Penn
William Penn is one of the best elementary schools in Brooklyn and is located in the neighborhood of Park Slope. The school serves grades K-5 and has a reputation of being one of the best schools in NYC. They teach children to learn to think deeply, learn independently, and take responsibility for their own education.
William Penn has an atmosphere that is both demanding and fun and does a good job of challenging top students while giving extra support to students that need extra help. They have two ICT classes per grade along with two teachers with one trained in special education. The school integrates children with special needs in regular classrooms, but with extra supports such as a full-time aide. They also have a mentor teacher with special education experience available to help guide and support teachers.
6. P.S. 29 John M. Harrigan
John M. Harrigan is located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and serves Pre-K and K-5. It is one of the most popular schools in the area as it’s a progressive school that rivals any private schools in the area. The school seeks to connect studies with the children’s real lives and to include them in decisions, which means plenty of collaboration and brainstorming ideas within the classroom.
Writing is also a large part of the school and there is even a journalism club where 4th and 5th graders are able to write and put out a “PS29 Post”. Parents are very active at PS29 by helping run after school clubs and programs, raise money to pay for assistants in kindergarten, and even fund the post put out by the journalism club.
7. P.S. 41 Crocheron
P.S. 41 Crocheron is located in Bayside, Queens and serves grades K-5. The school is traditional with a cozy feel and has a strong record of academic achievement. They’re focused on the academics as well as the emotional well-being of the students.
P.S. 41 has an emphasis on teaching students to write well, but also has an annual science fair and exposure to the arts through ballroom dancing, musicals, and a chorus. The school offered a class called “Horizon” for children with autism. These students can also attend regular class for part of the day accompanied by an aide to help them.
8. P.S. 188 Kingsbury
P.S. 188 Kingsbury is found in the quiet neighborhood of Oakland Gardens in Queens and serves Pre-K and K-5. It is one of the top NYC elementary schools with high attendance, strong “As” on progress reports, and over 90% of the students are proficient in math and reading tests.
The school has rigorous academic standards and a strong writing program focused on nonfiction. They also offer arts and athletics with an art and music teacher, and clubs for basketball, art, yearbook, and chorus.
9. P.S. 69 Journey Prep
Journey Prep is located in Clason Point, Bronx and serves Pre-K and K-5. The Department of Education rated this school as “high impact” which means students here perform better compared to other similar schools in the city. Although many students here are low income, more than two thirds of them meet state standards for math and english.
The school also won an award for its environmental programs from the National Wildlife Federation. P.S. 69 has a well-equipped science facility and has an “Outside World” where children can grow herbs and flowers, study soil and seeds, and conduct experiments. Journey Prep also has enrichment classes such as journalism, computer programming, debate, or inventions.
10. P.S. 5 Huguenot
P.S. 5 Huguenot is located in South Shore of Staten Island and serves grades K-5. The school is located in its own building and focuses on preparing students to move onto the next grade. In comparison to other schools, P.S. 5 helps students improve their test scores and the school as a whole performs well on test scores compared to other schools in NYC.
Students here have a 81% proficiency in math, which is higher than the 50% state average, and a 80% English proficiency that is higher than the state average of 46%.