MANHATTAN — Kindergarten application season is underway — a month earlier than usual.
The Department of Education’s Kindergarten Connect online application process — where families can rank up to 12 programs — kicked off Monday and will be open through Jan. 15, 2016.
To align with the DOE’s new timeline, charter schools are accepting kindergarten applications earlier, too. The Common Online Charter School Application has launched earlier this month and runs through Mar. 30, 2016.
More than 150 charter schools and networks, which is approximately more than 70 percent of all of those schools in the city at 185 different campuses, are participating in the newly redesigned online charter application, the nonprofit New York City Charter School Center announced Monday.
Moving up the application process will help the DOE send families their kindergarten offers in mid-March, which will give them more time to sort through the acceptance process and hopefully speed up the clearing of the city's wait lists, officials said.
More than 1,200 students were placed on waitlists at 51 schools they were zoned for last year, as being zoned for a school isn't always a guarantee of getting a seat.
The city's gifted and talented programs, which run on a different timeline than kindergarten for general education, however, will not release their offers until the end of May — nearly two months after other kindergarten offers are sent.
Currently, the odds of getting into any kindergarten program depend on a student’s priority level. While most children attend their neighborhood schools that they are zoned for, a qualified child who has an older sibling at that school gets admission priority over someone who lives in the zone with no sibling.
District 20, which includes Sunset Park, Borough Park and Bay Ridge, had the most schools bursting at the seams, with seven schools placing zoned students on waitlists.
Western Queens' District 24, which includes overcrowded schools in Corona, and Northwest Queens’ District 30, which includes oversubscribed schools in Woodside and Jackson Heights, each had five schools with waitlists. District 2, which spans from Battery Park City to Greenwich Village to the Upper East Side, had waitlists at four schools.
The school with the city’s longest waitlist last year was the Upper West Side’s P.S. 199, with nearly 100 students on the list. That school will likely have a waitlist again since the DOE’s controversial plan to change the school’s zone to help alleviate the overcrowding stalled.
The earlier application launch comes as the DOE has also changed its admissions procedures for selected schools around the city to boost diversity.
At seven Brooklyn and Manhattan elementary schools — all but one of which have lottery-based applications rather than zone-based admissions — the admissions process will give priority to a certain percentage of low-income students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, English Language Learners (ELLs) or students in the child welfare system.
The Brooklyn schools include Fort Greene’s Academy of Arts and Letters, Carroll Gardens’ Brooklyn New School, the Children’s School in Gowanus and the Brooklyn Arts and Science Elementary School in Crown Heights.