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Public preschool applications to be available March 6!

Have you been checking the DOE's universal pre-k page every single day for info on the 2009-2010 school year? I know I have. And I just got an email (which was subsequently forwarded to me by three friends who also have kids who turn four this year) with updated details about the application process. If your kid was born in 2005, here are the key dates to note: Friday, March 6: The UPK application period begins. Directories and applications will be available via the DOE site or public schools on that day, and you will rank schools according to preference. Friday, April 3: The UPK application period ends. Week of May 18: The DOE finally tells you which school, if any, your child has been accepted into. (Although there aren't enough slots to accommodate all applicants, remember that for 2008-2009, the DOE was still accepting kids up until January! The fact is, many folks vie for the same few programs. So if they don't get their first choice, they keep the kid in daycare/with the nanny, etc.) May 18 - May 29: Families pre-register at schools. This process is, more or less, the same one as last year, with the DOE centralizing all applications. There are numerous downsides to this process. First and foremost: Even if your kid is accepted into your first-choice school, you will have to reapply next year for kindergarten, assuming your kid is even eligible for that school. Ex: If you happen to get your kid into a UPK program in a talented and gifted school, your child will need to pass the TAG test in order to be admitted to kindergarten there. Or, if you choose to send your kid to a UPK that is outside of your district or zone, you may not be eligible to continue at that public school. Another bummer: Even unzoned schools like Central Park East I and II and Ella Baker are being forced to adhere to the centralized application process, which means they may not end up with the economic, ethnic and geographic diversity that they have had in the past. (I received an email from CPEII, explaining that siblings of current students will get priority followed by students who live in District 4, which has not been the case in the past, when they accepted kids from all over the city based on the school's own criteria). The upside to all this? At least we finally know the deal. I urge all parents to sign up for the DOE's email alerts (it's the best way to stay on top of all the news). There will also be information sessions throughout the five boroughs about the process, beginning on March 3. Check the DOE's site for the schedule. So...how pissed are you? Care to share? On a personal note, I just hope my daughter is accepted somewhere so I can stop paying for daycare!

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