The deadlines are approaching for applying to Public Pre-K and Kindergarten. Joyce Szuflita, the school expert, has taken the time to simplify the entire process for us! Here are the key dates:
Kindergarten application deadline: March 1st
Pre-K application deadline: April 5th
And here are the steps for applying and basic summary of how it works:
Applying for Kindergarten:
The DoE has information on their website here: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/Elementary/Kindergarten
How to apply for kindergarten:
District Elementary School Directories. There directories are by district which is the large catchment area that includes many neighborhoods, ie. All of Williamsburg/Greenpoint is District 14. District 13 is a long east/west area encompassing neighborhoods from Brooklyn Heights to western Bed-Stuy. District 15 is Bococa/most of Park Slope down to Kensington and Sunset Park. There are maps of the districts in each Directory, etc.:
If your child was born in 2008, they are eligible to attend kindergarten in fall of 2013. Right now (Jan. 22 to March 1) is the application period. This is essentially a head count process for each zoned school. Think of this as an application “process” rather than a document. This is a completely different process than prek- there is no central application and you don’t need to rank schools. You will approach each school that you are interested in separately and you don’t need to decide which one you like best.
- You apply in person at your zoned school (and any other school in the city that you may be interested in attending – although very popular programs which are at capacity with zoned children will likely not take your name).
- You should bring your proofs of address and child’s birth certificate, but it doesn’t hurt to confirm with the school that the person who needs to take your paperwork will be in the office and that the school doesn’t also want to see your child’s immunization paperwork as well. This is not a first come first served process.
- You should also be applying for the lotteries at charter and un-zoned programs. Sometimes you can do this on the schools’ websites.
- In early April, your zoned school (and possibly an out of zone school or two) will let you know that a seat is available for your child.
- In April the charter and un-zoned schools will do their lotteries and announce placements.
- April 8-April 26 is the registration period. If a school has notified you that you have seat; take your child, proofs of address, immunization records and child’s birth certificate to register.
- If you hear from more than one school, you must decide which one you want. You can only be registered at one school at a time.
- If you are registered at a school and you are notified later that you have been offered a seat – it is your choice to accept or decline the new seat. When you register at the new offering, your previous seat is released to people who may be waiting for it on the wait list at the school.
- Wait lists often move after charter and un-zoned and G&T programs make their placements.
Applying for Pre-K:
The public PreKindergarten application process happens after the kindergarten placement. http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/default.htm
The Directories of current programs are not online yet (they should be on the DoE’s website in March).
Prek is a very different animal. There is a single application that will be available online beginning on March 4. The deadline to submit the application will be April 5. Placement is made by lottery with priorities. It is a new policy this year that families who attend prek will have priority to that school at kindergarten if they want it. The problem with the public prek application process is that you will find out if you have been offered a seat in late May or June, long after you have paid a deposit and signed a contract for your local private program. Siblings and zoned families get first crack at the very limited seats available, so first or only children looking outside of their zoned schools may have limited luck gaining a seat.
Joyce Szuflita, NYC School Help, is a 28 year Brooklyn resident and the mom of teenage twins who has spent years interviewing educators, touring schools, combing the internet and being generally obsessed with all aspects of public and private schooling in Brooklyn and NYC. She consults privately with families who want to navigate the school search. She can be seen in the NY Times, Time Out NY Kids, NY Family – Brooklyn, achildgrowsinbrooklyn.com and nycprivateschoolsblog.com