Dear Judy,

I am getting concerned about applying to kindergarten. How does the new system work?  I like my zoned school, it has a great reputation, but because of that it is very popular and there is always an overflow of kindergarten applications. What happens if it is the only school I choose and my child does not get a place? 

Anticipating KG Mom

Dear Anticipating KG Mom,

Under the new Kindergarten Connect system, which is managed by a vendor not the schools themselves, parents rank up to 20 schools in order of preference. You apply between Jan. 13- Feb. 14, filling out an online application, calling 718-935-2400, or visiting a borough enrollment office from 8am-3pm, Monday to Friday. If you go to your zoned school, or any other school, the staff will advise you on how to file the application, but they won’t do it for you.

The key is to rank the schools in the order that you like them. Do not list any schools you are wary about. If you want your child to attend your zoned school, list that first. If you are concerned about overcrowding and being sent to another school, list your next favorite school to ensure that you are not assigned to a school you did not select. Keep in mind that all schools first accommodate their own zoned kids before accepting any of those sent from other schools. The so-called "overflow" schools -- that are designated each year to accept kids from schools which have capped their enrollment -- change from year to year.

That said, most schools are able to accept all zoned student and if you are not accepted in the first round, you are automatically placed on a waitlist. In fact, if you list other schools, and do not get an offer for any of them, you will remain on a waitlist of schools you ranked higher than the school where you got placed.

The waitlists are not numbered, rather listed in priority groups, the first being zoned kids who did not get a place there. If there are more children in the top priority, for instance, than available slots, the school itself (not the system) is supposed to choose randomly – like holding a lottery within the priority group.

My suggestion, rank more than one choice. 

Here are some other questions that parents raised at a meeting in Manhattan this week about Kindergarten Connect, along with an editied version of the Department of Education responses. Click here for the DOE's Power Point presentation

Q. Some schools are asking parents to submit applications to the schools now. Will those carry any weight? Will families be directed to submit the Kindergarten Connect form at some point? 

A: All schools, with the exception of charter schools and gifted and talented programs will participate in the new application process. Families should not submit a separate application directly to schools. Schools should help families and redirect them to one of the three options. The kindergarten admissions website should be updated soon and elementary school directories will also be available online and in paper form at elementary schools.

Q. How do parents apply to Dual Language programs? 

A: You will be able to apply directly to a school's Dual Language program using the corresponding program code. Families will list their native language when applying and schools will be responsible for verifying this information as they have in the past. The window of applicants will be open for principals to complete the verification before offers go out.

Q. Some schools require families to tour in order to be part of their lottery. How will that work through this system? Will the system be able to see whether or not a family has met the requirements of the school or are there no longer any requirements?

A:  It has been communicated to the schools that tours are not mandatory. While some schools may have told families to take tours, they are not required. If the lottery had any priorities in the past, they will be the same. Otherwise the same priorities that apply to all schools will be followed. See Chancellor's Regulation A- 101, page 5, for priority details. 

If you have more questions, try calling 718-935-2009 – the office of Student Enrollment, email [email protected], or post questions here and we'll answer!

Good luck,