Kindergarten Applications to Go Online, DOE Announces

By Amy Zimmer on September 12, 2013 5:19pm 

 Pre-K kids at The STAR Academy in the East Village, one of the schools that was part of the pilot program for online kindergarten applications.
Pre-K kids at The STAR Academy in the East Village, one of the schools that was part of the pilot program for online kindergarten applications.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

NEW YORK CITY — Parents signing their children up for kindergarten soon won't have to wait in long lines or fill out onerous paperwork. The application process is going digital, the Department of Education announced Thursday.

Starting in January, “Kindergarten Connect” will allow families to fill out one application online, ranking schools in order of preference instead of having to travel from school to school, filling out paperwork at each location.

The program was piloted last year in the Lower East Side’s District 1, the South Bronx's District 7 and Brownsville and East New York's District 23, which are all “choice districts,” where families can apply to any school in the district, regardless of where they live.

But lining up for kindergarten applications, even for zoned schools — especially in neighborhoods notorious for kindergarten waitlists such as TriBeCa — turned into an ordeal for many families, forcing some schools to figure out their own rules to curtail the lines.

The pilot program was successful, with significantly more parents applying for kindergarten — which is now mandatory for all 5-year-olds — earlier in the year, DOE officials said.

Also, more than 75 percent of 1,800 families surveyed by the DOE’s Office of Student Enrollment said the would prefer to submit applications online.

“Kindergarten Connect is a game-changer for our parents and our schools,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement. “Starting school should be exciting — and it should be easy."

Zones and admissions priorities will remain unchanged, school officials said.

The DOE will launch a public information campaign to promote the new tool, running ads on the radio and mass transit for four weeks.

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