School zones and districts can be a confusing time for parents, especially for those who are sending their children to school for the first time. We’ve broken them down to help you navigate through this often tricky topic.
The city is divided into 32 school districts. There are 7 in Queens. Districts are divided into zones, which correspond to designated geographic areas. A zone’s boundaries are set by each school district’s Community Education Council. Each school is assigned a zone. Zoned schools are neighborhood public schools that can be accessed by the students who live in the designated zone. A family’s zoned school is usually the closest to their home.
To figure out what schools you’re zoned for, call 311 or check the Department of Education’s home page here. Be warned: this information often changes and the site and is not always up to date! The best source of information about school zones are the schools themselves. Call or visit the school you think you may be zoned for for the most accurate information. Schools can access a list of addresses associated with their school and let you know whether they are your zoned school. Some addresses are not zoned for any school. If that is your case, consult with your local Borough Enrollment Office (see below for a list of Queens Enrollment offices) for your best options.
Queens School Districts
In Queens, District 24 includes Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Maspeth, Middle Village, and Corona, as well as parts of Woodside and Sunnyside.
District 25 includes the north central Queens neighborhoods of Flushing, Whitestone and College Point.
District 26, the city’s highest achieving district, includes Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest, and parts of Hollis Hills and Holliswood.
Southern Queens neighborhoods are covered by District 27, including Far Rockaway, Howard Beach, and Woodhaven.
Central Queens is covered by District 28. This includes Forest Hills Gardens, Jamaica and Rego Park.
Holliswood, Queens Village, St. Albans, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Brookville, and Rosedale all fall within District 29.
Finally, the neighborhoods of Astoria, Ditmars, East Elmhurst, Hunter point, Jackson Heights, Long Island City and parts of Sunnyside and Woodside are covered by District 30.
Inside Schools offers an amazing map of the city, which shows the borders of all of the districts here. Click on your district to see information about the borders, important contacts, and a school search function. Don’t forget that this information often changes!
Enrolling your child
Depending on what level you are enrolling your child into—elementary, middle, or high school—your district and zone may dictate the schools you have access to.
For elementary school, where you enroll your child will mostly have to do with where you live. Most elementary school children attend their zoned school unless they have been admitted to a magnet or specialized program like gifted and talented. At elementary schools, preference is given to zoned students and then to students living within the district. When more zoned students apply than there are spots, students are chosen through a lottery system. Students that don’t get a spot will then be placed on a waiting list. Most students do move on from the waiting list to the zoned school. The few students that don’t get a spot (in 2010, the number was just over 400 in Queens) are then assigned to other neighborhood schools for the most part.
While your child is guaranteed a spot at a public elementary school, there is no guarantee that your child will be accepted at your zoned school because of overcrowding and the popularity of certain schools. In order to give your child the best chance, apply early—most applications are due in March.
For middle school it gets a bit complicated because the enrollment process varies by district. In some districts, most students attend their zoned school. While other districts are known as choice districts, which means that students can apply to the schools within their district that most appeal to them. If your child attends elementary school outside of your home district, your child can also apply to middle schools in that district. No matter where families live, for middle school, students can apply through the school choice process to a number of programs throughout Queens and the rest of the city. Whatever your district, check here for the middle school choices open to your child.
For high school, students have the most choice. There are 400 high schools in the city. Some schools give students in certain districts or in the school’s zone priority in the admissions process. There are also zoned high school programs at some schools in Queens. These programs give priority to students who apply and live in the zoned area of the school. Your child’s zoned school will be listed at the top of their high school application. Schools admit students through a variety of processes. Some require testing or auditions, while others pick their students by lottery.
Transferring from your zoned school
If your child attends a zoned school, there are a few ways he or she can transfer to another school. If the school has been listed for the last two years or more as a School in Need of Improvement or a New York State Persistently Low Achieving school, your child can apply for a transfer to a school in good standing. Also, if your child meets the special circumstances, you can apply for a variance. This means that the student can transfer to another school. The school the student is transferred to is based on which school has space. The special circumstances that qualify for a variance include medical reasons, safety reasons, childcare or parent’s place of employment is far from the school, or a sibling is attending another school. Student sin 5th grade at a K-5 school and 8th grades students are not eligible for the Public School Choice Program because they will be switching schools anyway. If you would like to transfer your child, speak with the guidance staff at your child’s school.
Queens Enrollment Offices:
Districts 24 and 30: 28-11 Queens Plaza North, Long Island City, 11101; 718-935-2386
Districts 25 and 26: 30-48 Linden Place, Flushing 11354; 718-935-2391
District 27: 82-01 Rockaway Boulevard, Ozone Park, 11416; 718-935-2401
District 28 and 29: 90-27 Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica, 11435; 718-935-2393
By Sandy Jimenez