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Ask Judy: I'm waitlisted for kindergarten. Can I get in for 1st grade?

Dear Judy,

If I am waitlisted  at my zoned school for kindergarten, does that mean I am guaranteed to get a seat in 1st grade? That’s what my zoned school told me.

Hopeful

Dear Hopeful.

Zoned schools are supposed to take all of the kids in their zone for 1st grade and above. BUT that has not always the case in crowded districts. According to the enrollment office, you must “express your interest” for 1st grade and if the school has room you will get an offer based on the order of this year’s waitlist.

All students who are still waitlisted for kindergarten will receive an alternate kindergarten offer in late May, at a school as close to their zoned school as possible, according to DOE officials. You may continue to stay on the waitlist even into the fall. And it will still count for 1st grade.

In order to accommodate as many children as possible, schools are being asked to take a full complement  of 25 students per kindergarten class. And they are being asked to stop taking out of zone kids until all waitlisted students in the district are accommodated. At recent meetings with kindergarten families in districts 15 and 2, enrollment office officials stressed that there has already been "significant movement" on the waitlists.

Of course current kindergarten waiting lists include some kids who will opt for the gifted and talented spots – but you won’t know in a timely way whether your child will get one of those open places.  Results of the G&T assessments will be out sometime in May with applications due back in late May. The DOE says that the late notification for G&T offers is a matter of its “vendor” having to handle a high volume of tests and test-takers.

There are other ways that waiting lists shrink -- families move,  parents opt for a private or charter school, or get an offer off another waiting list.

Please note that you are guaranteed a spot in a kindergarten class even if it’s not in your zoned school.

Meanwhile, cheer up, think of this ordeal as practice for the next level of school choice and as a wake up call for your active participation in school district affairs. Get the parents association and the  Community Education Council to make overcrowding  a priority.  Maybe a solution will emerge by the time 1st grade rolls around

Good luck

Judy

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