LOWER EAST SIDE — Kindergarten admissions season is here — and it's especially stressful for families who live in District 1 on the Lower East Side.
Unlike the rest of the city, District 1 has no zoned elementary schools, so parents must research all 17 schools in the neighborhood and apply to the ones they like best.
"None of the normal rules apply," said Lisa Donlan, president of the District 1 Community Education Council. "Any parent can pick any school across the district."
Some parents choose schools based on geography, while others pick schools for their special programs, like the dual-language English/Mandarin offerings at P.S. 20, 166 Essex St., and the Shuang Wen School, 327 Cherry St.
The most popular schools receive more kindergarten applications than they can accommodate and hold a lottery to decide who gets in. First priority goes to children who are currently in pre-K at the school and list it as their first choice, then to children who have siblings at the school and list it as their first choice.
To apply to any of the 17 District 1 schools, families must fill out an application ranking their choices and bring that application to the Manhattan Enrollment Office, 333 Seventh Ave., by 3 p.m. March 2. Parents should also bring the child's birth certificate or passport and two proofs of residence.
Families can also apply to the neighborhood's public charter schools, which each require a separate application. Girls Prep Charter School, 442 E. Houston St., and Manhattan Charter School, 100 Attorney St., are both currently accepting applications and will hold a lottery after the April 1 deadline.
District 1 covers the area south of 14th Street and north of Delancey Street from the Bowery and Third Avenue to the East River, plus a smaller area south of Delancey Street and east of Clinton Street.
Donlan advises parents to visit the neighborhood's schools and learn more about them before applying.
"Go out there and be proactive," she said. "Arm yourself with information."
For more details, download the Department of Education's District 1 Elementary School Directory.