Slightly more families received an offer to their top-ranked kindergarten program this year and fewer schools put students on waiting lists, officials said Tuesday as families were sent offer letters.
More than 72 percent of the 67,907 students who applied for a kindergarten slot before this year’s deadline received their top choice, a 1.2 point increase over last year. Nearly 85 percent of families received an offer to one of their top three choices.
While every applicant who met the Feb. 18 deadline received an offer, about one in ten students did not get accepted into any of the schools listed on their applications, the education department officials said. Those 6,838 students were also added to waiting lists at the schools where they applied.
This year, 51 schools have waiting lists of students who live in their zones but were not offered spots, down from 63 schools last year. Still, the number of students on such lists — about 1,240— stayed the same. Officials and experts said many of those students are likely to be accepted from the waiting lists before next school year as other families move or switch to private schools, charter schools, or gifted-and-talented programs.
“This is a great step in the right direction and we’ll continue working to best serve all families,” Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement.
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Officials did not immediately release the names of schools with waiting lists Tuesday. Last year, the waiting lists were cut in half when the city added a new online application system called Kindergarten Connect, which allows parents to apply for up to 12 schools at once rather than do so in person at each school as they had to in the past.
This year, 77 percent of parents applied online, 14 percent applied over the phone, and 9 percent visited an enrollment office, officials said.
In addition to the online application process, officials attributed the uptick in first-choice offers and the decline in waiting lists this year to new outreach to parents of pre-kindergarten students. The city informed those parents of available kindergarten options, which helped them make more strategic choices on their applications, the officials said.
Families that choose to accept offers must pre-register at the schools by May 6, which does not prevent a student from still receiving an offer from a school where they are on a waiting list. Families who have not yet applied to kindergarten must now apply in person at schools.