giant sea change in kindergarten application procedures

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The DoE announced late last week that they are changing the kindergarten application process up in a big way.

The old way that families would apply to various kindergarten programs was to physically go individually to each zoned school in and out of their district and apply in person (drag). They could also register for the charter and unzoned school lotteries and go through the city's g&t process all separately (what! something else to do!?). They would hear individually throughout the spring and summer and sometimes into the fall in a slow round robin as choices in individual schools shifted (get an offer here, get an offer there, offers offers everywhere). Families could get multiple offers to several schools (nice). It was a process that was handled on the local level and there was a lot of wiggle room (you don't have to decide which schools you liked best, you just waited for a better offer to trade up).

Now the city is putting in place a centralized city wide process (OH NO!) that allows families to apply online with a single application ("like prek" - there is a ringing endorsement!) where you can rank up to 20 choices, including charter and unzoned programs. This certainly saves time going to each school individually, but there are a lot of unanswered questions and any process that goes from local to central gets the real choice squeezed out of it. Even though families will be able to rank 20 schools, they don't have the same priority to all the schools on their list (zone, district and program requirements will still be in place). I am sure that this will be a relief for local elementary schools that expend a lot of energy managing paper applications.

Families will log on to a site called Kindergarten Connect (in January for a Sept. 2014 k entry) to list the schools that they want in the order that they want them.

From Gotham Schools:

"Today, officials said that the admissions site available in January will link to the charter school common application, which allows parents to apply for seats in multiple charter schools at once. A department spokesman said the only connection between the applications will be the link, and the applications themselves will remain separate for now.

But the Vanguard contract describes the goal of a more closely aligned process. The first and second phase “will link both applications and incorporate data collection fields” from interested families, and a third phase “will fully integrate charter school options into the Kindergarten online application; families will be able to see and rank all district and charter choices.” The city is looking to spend $400,000 — half the cost of creating the full kindergarten enrollment process — on unifying the admissions systems.

The contract also includes hundreds of thousands of dollars for changes to the city’s middle and high school enrollment systems. For the high school system, the changes bring the system into line with a recent policy change to require selective schools to meet enrollment targets for certain high-needs students."

Questions yet to be answered (I am on it):

  • Are you required to list your zoned school?
  • Can you get multiple offers? What is the timeline for deciding if you do?
  • If you don't get a seat at your zoned school at K, can you be wait listed for your zoned school (or others), and do you have a shot at a seat in first grade?
  • Is there an appeal?
  • Can you apply to schools outside of district?
  • What happens if you arrive in or leave a zone after the application period ends?
  • What happens if you don't get a placement?
  • How will dual language programs be handled?
  • How will active magnet grant schools be handled?
  • If you place into G&T do you have a choice between that and a gen ed school?

Tiny information on the DoE's website

More information from InsideSchools.org

Watch out for DoE Information Sessions that will undoubtedly pop up later in the winter to explain this process. I will see you there! As soon as I get any questions answered I will keep blogging.