ASTORIA — An Astoria nonprofit is helping parents navigate the city's controversial new online kindergarten registration process, saying many families in Western Queens lack internet at home and may have difficulty accessing the new system.
Zone 126 — an education-based nonprofit that serves residents of the Astoria, Queensbridge and Ravenswood NYCHA developments — held a registration drive at the Astoria Houses on Wednesday, where a NYCHA van filled with laptops and several volunteers were on hand to guide parents.
The Department of Education launched Kindergarten Connect last month, a new online-only kindergarten application that's being used for the first time this year to help streamline the registration process, instead of having parents go in-person from school to school.
But the new system has been criticized for isolating some families.
"Whereas this sounds like a wonderful idea, and it's been a great advantage to many New Yorkers, unfortunately it also has put many members of our community at a disadvantage," said Lynn Grossman, Zone 126's board president.
According to the nonprofit, only 40 percent of families surveyed in the three Queens NYCHA complexes it serves reported having Internet access at home.
"The digital divide is something that we're very concerned about, extremely concerned about," said Isaac Carmignani, co-president of the Community Education Council for District 30. "We want to see our residents on the down side of that digital divide cross safely onto the internet."
Zone 126 is trying to get the word out to parents to submit their child's application by the end of the Kindergarten Connect deadline, which the city just extended to Feb. 20.