DOE to Test Online and Phone Applications for Some Kindergartners

By Serena Solomon on December 17, 2012 7:35am 

 The S.T.A.R. Academy in the East Village is a District 1 school where parents can apply for kindergarten online or by phone.
The S.T.A.R. Academy in the East Village is a District 1 school where parents can apply for kindergarten online or by phone.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

NEW YORK CITY — Families in some parts of the city will soon be able to apply for kindergarten online.

The Department of Education's pilot program, launching in January, will allow parents in Districts 1, 7 and 23 to submit online and phone applications for kindergarten for the first time, rather than requiring parents to fill out a hard copy of an application at a local school.

The Lower East Side's District 1 is one of the few districts in the city where parents can choose the elementary school they want their child to attend by ranking their preferences, instead of just sending their child to the local zoned school. The South Bronx's District 7, as well as Brownsville and East New York's District 23, also both recently became choice districts.

"The online part is convenient for people who are tech-savvy," said Lisa Donlan, president of District 1's Community Education Council, calling the pilot program an improvement that would benefit parents.

To apply online, parents need to enter an email address, and then they are asked for information about their child and which schools they would like their student to attend, DOE spokesman David Pena said.

"Next year, we hope to offer all families in all districts — zoned and choice — the ability to apply online, over the phone or in person at an Enrollment Office," he wrote in an email.

For phone applications, parents can enroll by calling 718-935-2009 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. starting Jan. 22, Pena said. Parents will then get a mailed or emailed receipt, he noted.

All types of applications — online, phone and hard copy — will be available Jan. 22 and must be submitted by March 1, according to the DOE. Families will learn where their child has received a seat in April.

Parents who do not speak English can call 311 to be connected with a translator who will fill out the online application for them — a feature Donlan praised.

"This is great for those who may not have access to the Internet and who don't speak English," she said. 

Still, Donlan said she is withholding judgment on the pilot program until she sees it in action.

"All applications need to be treated the same no matter how they arrive," she said, "and these are the sort of things I will be looking out for."

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