Letters to families of four-year-olds hoping to gain a slot in a public pre-Kindergarten program will be sent this Friday, June 10, two weeks later than the usual Memorial Day weekend notice, and particularly late for those whose tuition at private nursery school programs was due on June 1.

Parents who applied online can access the information on the Web; others will get it in the mail.  Families must register from June 13-24, or forfeit the spot. For those who are not placed in this first round, there is usually asecond admissions round sometime in July.  In fact, there are often openings late in the year, although not at all schools, and usually for half day programs.

No word from the Department of Education as to why notification is so late this year - nearly two months after kindergarten registration ended.  DOE officials have said that pre-K enrollment comes after kindergarten to help ensure that priority is given to students who have siblings entering kindergarten at the same schools,  With long waitlists at many schools this year, some zoned schools may have had to eliminate pre-Kindergarten programs to make space for kindergarten.

The late notice doesn't sit well with parents who have not been able to plan ahead for their pre-schoolers.  "Changing the notification and registration dates to practically the end of June really stinks!" writes one mom on a neighborhood listserv in Brooklyn.  "Every year the date gets later and later--next year it will probably be July 4th."

All children who turn four in 2011 are eligible for public pre-K, although they are not guaranteed a seat. Last year, with a bumper crop of applicants,  nearly 7,000 children of the 25,000 who applied were not given placements in the first round of letters.

Community based organizations also offer full and half day pre-K programs but these often come with a fee for part of the day.

See the DOE's website for more information, including a complete timeline, and what you need to bring when you go with your child to pre-register.

And let us know when you get your letter! We'll post updates as we get them.