New Online Tool, Piloted in Three Districts in 2012-2013, Will be Launched Citywide in 2014
Department to Launch Public Information Campaign to Raise Awareness of Changes
New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today announced “Kindergarten Connect”, a new online tool for families across the five boroughs to apply for kindergarten in September 2014. In the 2012-2013 school year, the City piloted an online application in three districts – 1, 7, and 23, and the results were resounding. The DOE found that with the online and over the phone options, significantly more parents applied for kindergarten earlier in the year. Further, out of over 1,800 respondents on a citywide parent survey conducted by the DOE’s Office of Student Enrollment, over 75 percent of families said they would prefer to submit their kindergarten application online. After seeing overwhelming demand, the DOE will launch an online option citywide during the kindergarten application period starting this January to streamline admissions for schools and simplify the process for parents.
“Over the past decade, we’ve made City schools a national model of innovation – and we’re doing it again with Kindergarten Connect. As we’ve given parents more digestible data to help them make informed decisions, we’re making their lives easier by improving the application process. Kindergarten Connect is a game-changer for our parents and our schools,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. “Starting school should be exciting – and it should be easy. That’s just what Kindergarten Connect will deliver. It’s just another step in our top-to-bottom transformation of City schools.”
Previously, in order to apply to kindergarten, parents have had to travel from school to school, wait on lines, and fill out numerous forms. Kindergarten Connect, however, will allow parents to apply from home. The citywide tool will allow parents to spend more time researching schools online or at the schools themselves, and less time submitting paperwork at each location.
The single application will also allow parents to rank their options in order of preference, with zones and admissions priorities remaining unchanged. Parents will have the same options and school priorities they have always had, except with a simpler application process. For schools, Kindergarten Connect will limit paperwork, allowing administrators to spend more time supporting teachers and students and less time managing applications.
The DOE also announced a public information campaign aimed at communicating the application changes to parents. Starting on September 30th, for four weeks, ads will air on radio and across mass transit, including on subway cars, on bus exteriors, next to subway platforms, and on the Staten Island Ferry. Millions of New Yorkers will see the public information campaign.
Kindergarten Connect is just another way the DOE has aimed to make enrollment more family friendly. The contract to expand the pilot online application will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy at its September meeting.