Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Boston kindergartens and preschool places

Boston is short of good public kindergarten places. This in turn creates a demand for preschool places, since preschool kids move up automatically to kindergarten in the same school, so even parents who wouldn't ordinarily send their kid to preschool may be tempted to do so since it gives them two chances at a good kindergarten.

Rise in kindergarten demand leaves many in city scrambling: Hundreds of students remain unassigned

"Demand for kindergarten seats in the Boston Public Schools for this fall has risen by more than 25 percent, an unanticipated increase that has left hundreds of students without an assigned school and has prompted officials to add more classrooms.
The enrollment boom surfaced in the past few months during the first round of registration for kindergarten classrooms that will serve students who will be 5 by Sept. 1. The School Department received 2,306 such applications, up from 1,823 during that same period last year.
"Predicting kindergarten enrollment in a city as large as Boston can be a tricky endeavor, school officials say. The transient nature of the city - with many young, middle-class families moving out and a number of immigrant families moving in - creates volatility in relying on birth rates.
"The city school system also faces immense competition for kindergarten students from dozens of private and parochial schools and a growing number of independently run public charter schools. City school officials often do not know until after the school year begins if all the kindergarten students offered a seat will show up
"The School Department is trying to respond to the rising demand by adding a kindergarten classroom at five schools: Umana Academy in East Boston, Harvard-Kent in Charlestown, Mission Hill in Jamaica Plain, and Haley Elementary and Sumner Elementary, both in Roslindale.

"Kindergarten is not the only grade experiencing a rise in applications. The city’s preschool program for 4-year-olds also has an increase, with 2,518 applications filed during the first registration cycle, compared with 2,070 during the same period last year. That has left 745 4-year-olds without preschool assignments, an increase of 513 from last year.
The city is not obligated under state law to make a seat available for all preschool students who apply, as it is with kindergarten.
"Margaret Day’s 4-year-old son is near the bottom of waiting lists at three schools for preschool, leaving little chance of admittance. Now, the Jamaica Plain mother is resigned to going through the lottery again next year for kindergarten, even though many seats will be snatched up as preschoolers move up. She said she does not understand how the School Department was “blindsided’’ about the enrollment increase, and is pushing for changes.
“We are going to be picking through the bones to get a good seat next year,’’ Day said. “The reason we went through the [preschool] lottery is because of the difficulty of getting into kindergarten.’’

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