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Pre-K Application Review: Home Stretch

Written by Helen Zelon Tuesday, 03 June 2008 18:06

Incredible as it seems, we've had some follow-up from the DOE on pre-K sibling applications.

The DOE has reviewed "about 9,000 sibling applications by hand, " according to Andy Jacob, and found "issues we might need to address" in about 200, some of which are still under review. Some scenarios are clear, as when one twin was sent to one school and another twin to another school. "That's a mistake on our end, and we will address it," says Jacob. Address matching issues persist, as do some questions about sibling verification (when sibling ID numbers were incomplete on the application, for example). And he says some parents thought the sibling preference pertained even when the older sib was graduating, or when the big-sib's school wasn't listed first -- no dice.

Jacobs' bottom line: "In any of these cases, where we are able to verify a sibling that meets the criteria we set, we will contact the parents directly to work out a suitable placement." Read those tea leaves for a mixed message: A younger sibling will get a pre-K seat, but 'suitable placement' doesn't really guarantee that seat will be at the same school.

It's worth noting that of 20,000 pre-K applications submitted, 17,000 children were offered seats, 15,000 at their first-choice schools. The DOE's count of 200 possible sibling errors works out to 1%, which doesn't sound so extreme in the abstract -- unless and until it's your kid. And it's cold comfort to the 3,000 families whose applications were denied altogether.

Waiting for deadline info on second-round applications; a slight bit of good news is that parents will receive application materials by mail, if they don't want to trek to the OSEPO offices -- but after the ongoing postal misadventures, a little snail-mail wariness is fully understandable.

good night -

Middle School Holding Pattern

Written by Helen Zelon Tuesday, 03 June 2008 13:30

Middle-school parents, sit tight. The DOE says what they said yesterday: Everyone should have letters by June 9th, which seems an eon away when you're waiting by the mailbox.

Am trying to confirm that all letters have been mailed -- as press rep Andy Jacob said would take place by yesterday -- and ask why District 2, 3, 15, and 21 families have yet to hear any news. More news when it's known.

Pre-K Questions, No Answers (Yet)

Written by Helen Zelon Tuesday, 03 June 2008 13:00

It's hard to imagine how much more time the DOE will require to review the pre-K applications that have caused so much turmoil. But as there's no official word there beyond 'we're working on it and will let parents know,' I don't have news of substance to report.

For those seeking political recourse, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum will hold a press conference at Tweed tomorrow, Wednesday, at 12:45pm; Council Member Bill DeBlasio of Brooklyn will speak around 1p. (We'll be there, too.)

Questions abound in regard to potentially unclaimed seats -- those offered to families who, for reasons of distance, convenience or sheer frustration with the DOE morass, will make other pre-K choices. Because the process was a citywide effort this year, schools don't have official wait lists, and there is no "trading up," as one poster had hoped, from a spot at a second- or third-choice school if a place at the first-choice school opens. If your child was offered a seat, you can accept or decline -- no wheeling-dealing.

Families of children who have not been offered a seat can participate in a second round of pre-K admissions, which opens (no typo) June 23d, just three days before school lets out for summer. Not all schools will have empty seats, but this is how the seats that aren't spoken for will be filled.

As of this writing, you have to go to an OSEPO borough office to get the paperwork and a directory of schools. Amazingly, the powers that be haven't yet published a deadline for second-round applications -- I'm working on it.

PreK Status

Written by Helen Zelon Tuesday, 03 June 2008 09:10

Despite widely-voiced hopes of a formal response from the DOE on the preK imbroglio, there's no real news on that front today, and not much consolation for worried parents.

Representatives say that parents who received offers for their children should go ahead with registration, and say that the application review that's been underway these past many days is ongoing. Discouraging non-news, to say the least.

Time for the afternoon mail? Keep us posted.

Kindergarten Thread

Written by Helen Zelon Monday, 02 June 2008 10:16

Parents of kids waiting for g+t kindergarten news, here's a thread to continue the conversation. Anything new in the mail today?

Loose Threads

Written by Helen Zelon Monday, 02 June 2008 10:11

Commenters have spoken - separate threads, please, for distinct questions.

So, let's start fresh. This post will establish a g+t middle school thread for parents who have heard, or have yet to hear, about their youngsters' applications.

Kindergarten families, see the next post. (PreK, we're still waiting for word -- no new news, as of 2pm.)

Money Talks

Written by Helen Zelon Monday, 02 June 2008 08:10

Last week's budget arguments continue to expand; this afternoon, the Alliance for Quality Education will protest the proposed $428 million cut, starting at 4 pm, at Stuyvesant High School. If you're stuck at work, write your City Council representative. If you attend, let us know what you see and hear.

Meanwhile, public hearings will start later this week on 2008-09 Council For Excellence funds, the direction of which seem very much in question, given Klein's desire to redirect C4E dollars to equalize budget cuts across the city's schools. (See preliminary budget information here.) C4E moneys are legally mandated to target specific, high-need schools and high-need students, in six program areas -- "class size reduction, time on task, teacher and principal quality initiatives, middle school and high school restructuring, full-day pre-Kindergarten, and model programs for English Language Learners" -- a mandate that would be altered if Klein's plan goes forward.

Public hearings will take place in Staten Island at New Dorp High School on June 5th; at IS 230 in Queens on the 10th; in the Bronx on the 11th, at DeWitt Clinton High School; in Brooklyn on the 12th, at Boys and Girls High School; and finally, Monday the 16th, in Manhattan, at Fashion Industries High School. The DOE also invites public comment at Let the powers that be hear from you.

Any G+T, Middle School News, Parents?

Written by Helen Zelon Monday, 02 June 2008 06:10

Here's the start of a G+T thread for parents to share information, leads, and news.

The latest sense we have is that citywide gifted and talented schools have sent out acceptances and rejections; parents have yet to hear from other schools to which their children applied.

Andy Jacob of the DOE says "some middle school offer letters went out late last week. The rest should go out today. Parents should receive the letters this week. Parents expecting letters who haven't received them by next Monday (June 9) should contact their child's guidance counselor. Acceptances are due June 12."

Know more? Have questions? Pipe up.

New Week, Same Questions

Written by Helen Zelon Sunday, 01 June 2008 06:34

Pre-K and middle-school parents' conversations and chat rooms continue to buzz with worry, concern, and rising anger, with ample cause. We're hoping for clarification from the DOE on the preK admissions snafu -- having heard that some schools are rescinding acceptances, while others are not -- and anticipate an announcement on Monday afternoon, timing uncertain.

Whether and when families will learn about middle school placement for their rising sixth graders remains mysterious. Various district offices have said that letters were mailed, that they will go out on Monday, or that they will be sent 'later in the week.' If your mail comes early, or if you got news over the weekend, let us know.

Where is your 5th grader going to middle school?

Written by Admin Friday, 30 May 2008 17:10

One final note before I sign off: even though OSEPO pulled an all-nighter earlier this week trying to nail down the scope of the pre-K admissions problems, it is still planning to mail out long-delayed middle school placement letters right about now. Here's a space for parents of 5th graders to discuss the results of that process.

G&T folks, you'll get your placement thread next week. Good luck to all!