Pre-kindergarten offer letters went out earlier this month to nearly 68,000 city children born in 2012, and 85 percent got an offer to one of their top three choices; 71 percent to their first choice. Those who didn't get a seat at one of the schools they listed on their application were assigned to a different program, according to the Department of Education. Every 4-year-old is guaranteed a slot in a full-day program at a public school, a pre-k center run by the DOE or at an early education center—although not necessarily at the school or program closest to home.
This year 11 percent of applicants—7,386—were matched to a program they didn't apply to. Most of them were offered a program in their district and 17 percent were given one in their borough.
If you like what you got, make sure you pre-register at the program or school by May 27, 2016 (the deadline was extended one week from May 20.) If you're not happy with your choice or just want to keep looking, here's what you need to know.
Accept a placement
Children will automatically be placed on waitlists for schools listed above the one they were assigned to. Unless you have a fallback plan like private or parochial school (or are moving to New Jersey!), it's best to accept your offer while you pursue other options. Accepting the seat you were offered will not impact your ability to move off the waitlist at another school or to apply again in a second round. May 27 is the deadline to accept an offer and pre-register at the school. May 20 is still the deadline to submit your application for Round 2.
All families, even those who received pre-k offers, can apply in Round 2. There are still nearly 1,000 programs to choose from, according to the DOE, including schools that did not fill in the first round and new ones that have been added. The easiest way to see what is available closest to your home or office, is to check the pre-k finder map, enter your address and look for the Round 2 options. A list of programs is here. As in Round 1, you can apply online, over the phone by calling 311 or in person at a Family Welcome Center. If the program you want isn't listed, call the school starting May 23 and ask to be added to the waitlist.
Have patience with waitlists
Waitlists move—that's their nature. Even though the process can be brutal, it's worth the wait to some parents if they get their child into the right school. Your child may get off the waitlist at your preferred pre-k as early as this spring, and if not, be patient—spots continue to open up throughout the summer and early fall too.
Visit the school
If you haven't yet visited the school your child was assigned to, now's the time. Programs should be willing to let you visit the pre-k classrooms; if not, you might want to keep looking. There is a short list of open house and tour dates for schools and early childhood centers on the DOE's website. If the program you are interested in isn't listed, call the school. Before you go, watch our video, "What to look for on a pre-k program."
Other questions? Try calling (718) 935-2009 and check the DOE's pre-k page.
(Updated 5/3/16 with information about students who weren't matched to any program on their application; updated May 19 with new registration due date.)