MANHATTAN — If you're applying to kindergarten next year, get ready.
In an effort to make the process easier for families, the process will start sooner this year, with families finding out a month earlier about their offer letters, Department of Education officials announced Thursday.
Families will be able to apply to kindergarten starting Dec. 7 and will receive their offer in mid-March. The actual application process online through Kindergarten Connect — where families can rank up to 12 programs — remains unchanged.
Moving up the timeline will give parents more time to learn about their new school, offer greater transparency around waitlists at their zoned school and help ensure a smoother transition from pre-K, school officials said.
The timeline for the city's gifted and talented programs, however, is not expected to change, education officials said, meaning offers for kindergarten G&T seats won't arrive until the end of May. That's nearly two months after other kindergarten offers are sent — a challenge for city kindergartens with waitlists to resolve their student roster.
"I recall the anxiety of waiting to hear whether my son would be accepted at our zoned school and not knowing until mid-April added to the stress," said Mary Kim, a mom of a kindergartener at Brooklyn Heights' P.S. 8, where many local families felt they had little time to figure out alternatives by the time the school announced it had a long waitlist.
"It seems like a good move on the part of the DOE to give parents more time to plan and prepare. Now, if they could move up the G&T placement notifications too, families can consider all options at the same time. This would help the schools as well since so many students register at one school and then end up registering elsewhere once G&T placements go out."
Some parents said they'd also like to see the city move up the pre-K notification timeline, but the DOE declined to comment on whether it would do so.
"Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for families to enroll their student a free, full-day, high-quality pre-K program," DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said. "We will continue to review our enrollment processes to ensure that they make sense for families in New York City."