the clone wars

the clone wars

What's in a name? Granted NYC School Help is lame. If I had thought another minute, I probably could have come up with something better, but when you search "joyce" or "help! schools" I figured it would be likely to come up in the search. Lately there has been a rash of similarly named schools that have occasionally been scrambling my brain.

Read More

Update on Prek for fall 2016

Update on Prek for fall 2016

Public prek application season has started. Applications can be submitted online from 1/25 through 3/4 as well as in person or by phone. This is NOT a first come, first served process (it is crazy how that rumor persists). You are placed in early to mid May and then you are automatically placed on a wait list for any school that you ranked higher than the school you are placed in. There may be some new programs added during the late spring and you can apply to them in Round 2 (May2-20).

Read More

What you need to know about UPK in November

What you need to know about UPK in November

Both of my Intro to Public School talks have sold out at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. I have scheduled a new talk there on Feb. 11 (the earliest we could get a date). Many people inquiring about tickets are families curious about prek, so I thought that I would give you the low down so that you could move ahead with confidence and still come to the talk in Feb. to learn (mostly) about what you have ahead of you for kindergarten.

Read More

2015 prek round up

2015 prek round up

You have until Fri. April 24 to apply for Universal Prek.
You can apply online here or at a Family Welcome Center or by phone 718-935-2067
You can find the Prek Directories here but there are also Updated Directories with many new seats available.
I have listed some notable changes below. This is not a comprehensive guide. You need to scour the lists for yourself.

Read More

NEW District 15 prek seats for fall 2014

This from Brad Lander's Office:

My office has just learned that the New York City Department of Education will be offering a new pre-k opportunity for families residing within District 15. Beginning this September, seven additional classes will be offered within leased space at the former Bishop Ford High School located at 500 Nineteenth Street, BK, NY 11215. The program will be supervised by senior Principal Laura Scott from PS 10 whose school was recently named a “Reward” school by the New York State Department of Education.

Space is limited and will be reserved for District 15 families on a first-come, first-served basis lottery basis. Registration will begin at 9 a.m.  on Tuesday, August 26th at PS 10 located at 511 7th Avenue, BK, NY 11215. Admission to this district 15 program does not provide admission priority to PS 10. Families must bring their child with them and two proofs of District 15 residence, 2010 birth certificate, and vaccination card.

Read More

mystery sparkle school planning meeting

I call the beautiful new school building that is going up on E.8th between Kermit and Caton in Kensington "Mystery Sparkle School" because that new construction is always so gorgeous (and they change the numbers). PS 437 is a "working title".

There are some interesting doings down there and a promising proposed plan is surfacing. This may impact (in a good way - relieving overcrowding, providing improved additional facilities and maybe more spots for prek among other interesting benefits...) the PS 130 community among others. 

If you live in Kensington or Windsor Terrace, you definitely have a stake in this decision. There is going to be a meeting with the District 15 Community Education Council this coming Tues. July 15, 2014 at 6:30pm at PS 130, 70 Ocean Parkway. They will be discussing possible zoning changes as well as proposed plans for the Sparkle School.

Here is a flier about the event.

the NEW!! prek directory 2014-15

Are you as excited as I am?! I am not being sarcastic - this stuff makes me Geek Out! I do love the DoE's publications and they keep giving us more and more useful information each year. Big doings this year!! They have cleaned up the priority catagories and they have given us the lowest priority catagory that was accepted into each school as a listing in the directory. This goes a long way to help moderate expectations. If you have to wait to hear about a placement until after Memorial Day, at least you aren't flying totally blind.
Read More

public prek info is online NOW, yippee

You can apply online for public prek here from March 4 - April 5.
You can download a copy of the new 2013-2014 prek directory here.

You can attend a free DoE PreK information session in Brooklyn on March 11 6pm at Sunset Park HS.
For more info and the prek calendar here.

In my quick perusal of the procedures, it looks like everything is the same as last year. You should contact each individual school for tours and for information about how the school will handle a wait list (if they have seats left over) in June. The one difference is that if you attend prek at a school that is outside your zone, you have a slight preference over regular outside of zone families to attend that school at kindergarten.

A very quick and inaccurate survey of new programs from the directory this morning:
PS 10, 107 and 321 in District 15 no longer have prek classes.

Some of the schools below (and in the directory) may have more seats than listed. They were added after the directory went to press.

In District 13 AND 15:
PS 133 has additional seats
the new PS 118 has seats

In District 14:
PS 84, PS 110, 196 and 250 all have more seats than last year.

In District 17:
PS 705 and New American Academy have seats.

public prek primer 2013

Public Prek is the fours year. They are housed in public schools and they are free for everyone, no matter your income (the "universal" in UPK). Some programs are half day and some are full day (it depends on what the school provides) and they are all 5 days programs.

When the DoE releases this year's information it will be located here.
The application period for prek begins March 4, 2013.
The application deadline is April 5, 2013.
You will hear about your placement in early June.
Registration for prek will be June 5 - June 19.

Read More

seats available in new nursery program at St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier School in the north slope (President St. between 6th and 7th Ave.) is adding a threes program to their prek to 8th grade school. Dorothy Taylor, the new principal, took me on a tour the other day. She is new to the school and bringing energy and innovation to the program. It will be a 5 day program with the option of full or half day. The tuition is very reasonable. There is an open house every Thurs. 9am or call and make an appointment for another time 718-857-2559 or ask questions by

The classrooms are large and bright. There is a separate little wing for the early childhood classes. She is developing a large indoor playspace in one room and has plans to update a section of the yard for the little ones. The class sizes are small and there is availability in both the threes and fours classrooms. Children wear St. Francis t-shirts and sweats and there is introduction to religion; celebrating holidays, bible stories and moral teachings. She is expanding their enrichments with music and movement.

They have applied for UPK funding and are waiting to hear if they can offer a subsidized program next year.

no Round 2 for prekindergarten lottery

The DOE is changing it up this year. They have eliminated the Round 2 lottery for seats left vacant after Round 1. Was it too late for families, or too cumbersome or too expensive? We will never know. What we know now is that the responsibility for placing left over spots goes to the schools and they have not been given any protocol on how to proceed. I called a couple schools to see what they were planning on doing and they said that the DOE will probably send instructions to them in the principals' weekly newsletter but it would likely come just before the process begins (it is not uncommon for the DOE to dole out important information like this at the last minute). When I called Central Enrollment, they gave me the very unacceptable (and probably inaccurate) answer that the numbers of seats available at the schools would be posted in fall of 2012 - like parents would just wander in mid September to claim left over seats?! Clearly, they hadn't thought this through. I have talked with insideschools and they are digging for more a more accurate forecast of the process schools should be following.

Here is what we can guess; most schools will probably not be taking names for a wait list until after the last day of Round 1 registration - according to the DOE's current calendar registration ends on Friday, June 22 - so I would be ready to attack the wait lists on Monday June 25 bright and early. The schools won't know if they have seats available until that date and why bother collecting a list of names before the fact if some of those people may be placed elsewhere and you could lose the list in the many months before you can use it. How will they be assigning seats? Will they get a prioritized list of names? Will they collect names and do it first come first served or will the schools do their own lottery? Nobody knows.

What do you do now?

  • I would keep in close contact with the parent coordinator at each school that I am interested in for prek, to make sure that I don't miss what they are going to do in June.
  • Sign up for newsletter right on their home page below the large photo. If they have more news on the process they will blog about it and you will receive an update in your email.
  • I would sign up for the DOE's prekindergarten alerts (make sure that you check the appropriate boxes) so that you don't miss anything there.

When I hear of anything I will list it on the blog, in the newsletter and tweet about it.

If you want an idea of the Prek numbers available after Round 1 last year, the 2011-12 School Year Round 2 Directory is here.

where to find information about public pre kindergarten?

First, applications and directories will be available on the DOE's website and as hard copies at any elementary school that has a pre kindergarten class beginning on March 5th. Click here if you are looking for last year's Second Round Directory (that the DOE has removed from their website).

April 5 is the deadline to submit and application.

The DOE will be holding Admissions Information Sessions in each borough. There will be one on March 12 at 6pm at Sunset Park High School.

Read More

changes in DOE enrollment language

The following item will be posted for the 45-day public review period. Oral and written comments will be accepted from December 22, 2011 - February 8, 2012 at 6:00PM. The Panel will vote on the item listed below at the February 9, 2012 Panel meeting, which will take place at 6:00PM at Brooklyn Technical High School located at 29 Fort Greene Place Brooklyn, NY 11217.

The full text version makes interesting reading if you are into the minutiae of DOE regulations. It looks like they are firming up language particularly around kindergarten registration at schools that are over capacity for in-zone children and at the surrounding schools where those families may be placed.

The big news for the early childhood crowd is the change in priority for the prek lotteries. It used to be the practice that ALL sibs (whether in-zone or out of zone) got first priority. This is changing to: first in-zone sibs, then in-zone students, THEN out of zone sibs.

2012 public prekindergarten application dates

Round 1 Public Prekindergarten deadlines are now up on the DOE's website.

March 5, 2012 the application period begins. That means that the directories will be available online and at your local school (if they have a prek class). You can begin the registration process online.

April 6, 2012 is the deadline to submit the application. I recommend that you do it online; it is harder to make a mistake and you get confirmation by email.

Week of June 11, 2012. Offer letters sent to families. This is a week later than in previous years. Most of the families who will be notified have siblings in the school or are zoned families whose schools have 3 or 4 prek classes.

June 12 - June 22, 2012. Pre-registration at schools. You need to do this in person and if you are offered a seat and you don't register at this time you lose the seat.

You might notice that there is no mention of the second round here. That is because they don't want to confuse the matter, but if you are the parent of a first or only children it is most likely that you will get a seat in the second round that happens in the LATE summer. Assume that you will hear about that placement in late August. But you are saying, "What do I do about my private preschool deposit?!" That, and the fact that you are not in any way guaranteed a public prek seat and you will be notified so late is the heartache of this process.

I recommend that you download the second round directory now, before they take it off the website, so that you can look at the previous year's numbers when the time comes.

For information on this process and the public kindergarten registration process (which is different and much easier) come to my Intro to Public School: Prek and Kindergarten talks.
For tickets: Mon. Jan. 9 at Madison Rose in Boerum Hill at 7pm
Tues. Jan. 10 at Hootenanny Art House in the South Slope at 7pm

You can apply to up to 12 schools on your application. You should be touring the schools when they get back from the holidays. Check the school's website, call the office or Parent Coordinator to find out when their tours are (usually one day a month at around 9am). The seats are limited and placement is made by Central DOE, not the schools! (lobbying does NOT help so don't waste your time). Placement is made by lottery, but it has priorities; first siblings are placed, then in-zone families, then out of zone/within the district, then out of district within the borough.



waiting for round 2 prekindergarten numbers

We are waiting for the DOE to compile the numbers of registered seats from the Prekindergarten Round 1 and put together the Round 2 Directory with deadline dates and the new application.

What is happening: the DOE notifies families for the exact number of seats available. The notified families have been given a short period to register for a seat (by June 24). There is NO wait list. The DOE is now compiling a list of seats still left available and there will be a second, faster round to place families in those seats. You must put in a new application (new choices, different rankings) or if you didn't do the first round you can participate now. If you were offered a seat in the first round and you want to try for a different placement in the second round you are at a serious disadvantage. From last years 2nd Round Directory, "If you apply in Round 2 after having received an offer in Round 1, your application will only be considered after new applicants and applicants from Round 1 who did not receive an offer. All Round 2 prekindergarten applicants must submit a new Round 2 application to be considered for a Round 2 offer."

It is not uncommon for there to be a couple seats available even in highly sought after programs.

When information becomes available it will be here.

You should register to get DOE email alerts here.

If you want to look at last year's numbers in Round 2.

prek round 1

Now that the Kindergarten application period is winding down (it ends March 4 this year) it is time to start thinking about prek.

Beginning Monday, March 7, the prek directory and application will be available on the DOE's website at the borough enrollment offices and at all elementary schools that have a prek class.

There is an information session at Sunset Park HS (35th St. and 4th Ave.) on Tuesday, March 8 from 6 to 7:30pm

The deadline to submit and application is April 8
Families will be notified of placements in early June and
Pre-registration at schools for placed families will be June 8 - June 17

The programs funded by UPK (Universal Pre-K) money can be found in two different places; public schools and CBO's (Community Based Organizations). CBO's are private or needs based programs that have their own individual application procedures. In past years the CBO's have been listed at the back of the directory for your convenience, but you may find that many of them have already completed their admissions. The lottery process that I will be describing is for the classes that are housed in the public schools.

I highly recommend that you submit the application electronically. The computer doesn't let you fill the form out wrong and you will get an electronic confirmation. In the past you have been able to list 12 choices (although you can list as few as you want). Spaces are assigned by lottery with priorities: first to siblings, then to in zone families, then to out of zone but in district, then to out of district, etc. The exact number of seats is assigned (no waitlist) and because of the late notification sometime families don't take the seats. That is when the Round 2 is announced (I blogged and linked to last year's Round 2 directory if you want to look at the numbers)

You won't find reference to "Round 1" or "Round 2" on the DOE's info. It is too confusing for most people, but I think that it is important information if you want to strategise. Round 2 has a very fast turnaround and placements and registration usually happens before everyone leaves for August.

I suggest that you check out the info session (I may see you there). I also do short phone consults around this process, 15 min. for $45. and 30 for $90. to help you strategise, talk about specific schools and figure out the wrinkles. Remember, if you are dead set on going to prek at your very popular zoned school, you are probably out of luck, but if you are flexible and keep your mind open to the less obvious choices (and perhaps travel a little) you may find a wonderful place for a year and save tens of thousands of dollars on a full day program.