How to Enroll Your Son in School in New York

Recently one of my readers asked me to address an important issue: How to get her son enrolled in a public school, such as Profession Performing Arts School (PPAS), in New York City. This might seem like a simple task, and it can be if your son attends a residential ballet program. However, if your son arrives at a ballet school in New York from out of state and does not live in a dorm run by a ballet program, getting in can be a bit tricky.

Most of the kids who attend the School of American Ballet (SAB), or even American Ballet Theatre (ABT), from out of state (or out of the country) either attend PPAS or a private school, such as Professional Children’s School (PCS). The latter costs in the neighborhood of $30,000 per year—on top of the steep fees for SAB (around $21,000 per year). Since most parents can’t afford both PCS and SAB, unless their child gets a scholarship from one or the other (or both), the majority of SAB kids attend PPAS.

My blog reader told me she read on the on the PPAS website that an application and audition are required and non-residents must pay tuition. I, myself, had never seen this statement. She asked me: “Did Julian have to apply and audition, or is there an agreement between PPAS and SAB so they don’t have to audition?” She also wanted to know if we paid any fees. Here’s the answer to her questions and the low down as I understand it.

If your son gets accepted into a ballet or dance program in New York City (or probably any state in which you are not resident) and he is not living in a residential program (in a dorm provided by the ballet school), to enroll him in a public school you must become a resident. This entails actually setting up residence—renting or buying a house or apartment—and proving residency (showing electric, gas or phone bills, etc., to school officials). You typically have to go to the Department of Education, or something like that, and fill out forms, prove residency, and pay some sort of fees. How much these fees are, I don’t know.

It is true that typically you must audition for PPAS and be accepted, and this usually is true even if you have been accepted to SAB but aren’t living in the dorms. That said, when we thought Julian was not going to be living in the dorms, the parent liaison at PPAS was going to see if this rule would be waived for him. She reasoned that he would not have needed an audition had he been living in the dorms. I would assume the same could be done for other boys.

Given that Julian ended up in the residential program at SAB, we actually had to do none of these things. SAB has several people who are responsible for Student Life, and one in particular who handles academic issues. She takes all the “new kids” down to the Department of Education on one particular day prior to school starting and enrolls them. Each child does not need to prove residency; the SAB representative does that for them by proving they are enrolled at SAB and living in the dorm. The dorm becomes their New York address. If any fees were paid for Julian, SAB handled this. I knew nothing about it. I provided his birth certificate, immunization records, etc. That was it. Easy schmeasy.

And Julian did not need to audition for PPAS. The fact that he had gotten into SAB was all the proof necessary to get into PPAS because he was in the SAB residential program. Basically, SAB vouched for him.

I’ve known boys who attended ABT and had to find housing because ABT does not have a residential program. Some have even lived in New Jersey, causing a whole different problem–they couldn’t go to school in New York City (or had to opt for a private school, I think). This meant their parents had to make sure they could prove residency, then had to enroll them in school, set up auditions for entry into a performing arts school, etc.  Thus, attending ABT has its own set of problems. As a residential program, SAB is much more attractive for because you pretty much know all the school issues get handled for you.

To be honest, when we thought Julian did not have a spot in the dorm at SAB, I was pretty stressed out about all of this school stuff; it’s just so much more difficult to do on your own. We also didn’t think there was room at PPAS for him in the senior class… We think his name had been entered at PPAS by SAB before we put it in, and that he actually already had a spot in the senior class because of this. Having a spot at SAB surely helped all around.

I’m sorry I can’t offer any information on the actual fees involved. I suggest calling Terry Gindi at PPAS. She’s a wonderful resource and the parent liaison with SAB (and in general). She’d be happy to tell you if there are fees and what they are so you can start saving. In any case, they won’t be 30 grand like at CPS.

I will tell you that PPAS is a highly competitive school to get into. Many parents in New York City want to get their children in and attempt to do so in the early grades. The building is quite old and houses a middle school as well as the high school. Don’t expect to be impressed by the building itself or its resources in general. That said, the staff knows its stuff when it comes to dealing with artsy kids. They are who you want when your son decides to apply to colleges, study for Regents tests (which he will need to take and pass to graduate) or simply needs help with course work. And they know all about dealing with the kids at SAB.

Julian is not spending much time at the school per say—except for Regents tutoring. His classes are all offered at SAB. But the school has bent over backwards to make sure he gets what he needs to graduate—and to accommodate his sometimes stressed out Mom in California.

Please feel free to send me your questions! I’ll try to answer them just like I did this one!


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  1. Kristi Fears says

    Thanks so much, Nina! This was incredibly helpful. It’s nice to know that if my son is as successful as Julian is when he gets older and is able to get into SAB that at least SOMETHING is free!!! Thank you for addressing this issue in your blog.

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