Male and female pre-k students dressed up in costumes.

Pre-K registration and lottery

A child must be 3 by Dec. 1 in order to qualify for a 3-year-old's spot and 4 by Dec. 1 to qualify for a 4-year-old's spot during the following school year. Classes have a maximum of 18 children to make sure each child gets the individual attention that makes the prekindergarten experience meaningful.

The district does not provide bus transportation to any prekindergarten program.

You must enter your child into the lottery to get a seat in the program of your choice. The lottery is conducted by an independent national firm to assure fairness and impartiality.

On the lottery application, you will be asked to select your first, second, third and fourth choices. Student selection is random for 4-year old prekindergarten programs, but certain factors take priority when determining where your child will be enrolled.

Sibling preference 

A child with a brother or sister already in elementary school will have a better chance of getting into a prekindergarten class at that school. This is called "sibling preference." Prekindergarteners with sibling preference are drawn first in the prekindergarten lottery. Sibling preference works only if your first-choice prekindergarten program is located at the elementary school your other child current attends AND will attend in 2019-20. There is no sibling preference for community pre-K programs.


Neighborhood preference

A child who lives within his or her neighborhood elementary school enrollment zone or within a half mile of a magnet/themed program will have a better chance of getting into a prekindergarten class at that school. This is called "neighborhood preference." (Not sure of your neighborhood elementary school? Click here for a searchable list or call (518) 475-6125.) Prekindergarteners with neighborhood preference are drawn second in the prekindergarten lottery. Neighborhood preference works only if your first-choice prekindergarten program is located in your neighborhood school enrollment zone or a half-mile from your home for a magnet/themed program.


Number of applicants versus number of seats

Some programs are in greater demand than others, meaning more families apply to those programs. Also, these limited seats often fill quickly with students who have sibling or neighborhood preference (see above). Programs that historically have more applicants than spots available are Albany School of Humanities (ASH), the Dual Language Program at Delaware Community School, the Jewish Community Center, Montessori Magnet School and New Scotland Elementary School.

Once lottery seats are assigned, the district will mail or email you one of three letters: an acceptance letter, a waiting-list letter or a waiting-pool letter.

If your child receives an acceptance letter

You must accept that seat AND register your child at Central Registration, 75 Watervliet Ave. If you do not register your child by the deadline indicated in the letter, your child's spot will be given to another child. Please be to bring the appropriate documents needed for registration.

If your child receives a waiting-list letter or a waiting-pool letter

If you applied for but were not assigned a spot in one of our neighborhood elementary schools, the Dual Language Program at Delaware Community School or a community program, you will receive a waiting-list letter and email. That means your child's name will be placed on a waiting list that is created after the lottery. Families will receive a waiting list number and be offered the opportunity to choose from another prekindergarten program that has available seats. Applications received after March 1 will be placed on the waiting list in the order they were received and without sibling or neighborhood preference consideration.

If you applied for a spot in one of the district's magnet schools -- Albany School of Humanities (ASH), Montessori Magnet School or Thomas O'Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST) -- your child's name will be placed in a waiting pool and will be eligible for monthly drawings through December based on available seats. This process allows families to enroll in another district prekindergarten class and still have a chance of obtaining a seat in one of the magnet schools. The waiting pool is "weighted," meaning that a child with a sibling and/or neighborhood preference will have priority over other children. A monthly lottery will select students from the waiting pool every month through May. All other students are weighted equally regardless of when they apply throughout the year, meaning there will be no sibling or neighborhood preference in the waiting pool.

FAQ

Q: Will my child receive transportation to or from prekindergarten?

A: No. Families are responsible for transporting their child to and from prekindergarten.


Q: If my child is assigned a prekindergarten spot at a particular elementary school, can he or she attend school there next year and beyond?
A: It depends. If your child is assigned a seat at a magnet school, he or she can attend through fifth or sixth grade, depending on the school. Otherwise, children automatically are enrolled for kindergarten in their neighborhood school.


Q: What are my chances of getting my first choice?

A: Your chances of getting your first choice depend on a number of factors:

  • The number of seats in a program available versus how many families select that program as a first choice
  • The number of first-choice applicants that have sibling preference at that school 
  • The number of first-choice applicants that have neighborhood preference at that school 

Q: What happens if I don’t get a seat at any of my choices and there are open seats at other sites?

A: You will receive a waiting list letter or a waiting pool letter depending on your first-choice program. That letter will include a date that you can register for programs with available seats and no waiting.


Q: What is sibling preference?

A: A child with a brother or sister already in a neighborhood or magnet school/program will have a better chance of getting into a prekindergarten class at that school. This is called "sibling preference."

Prekindergarteners with sibling preference are drawn first in the lottery.

Sibling preference works only if your first choice prekindergarten program is located at the elementary school your other child currently attends AND will attend in the following school year. Sibling preference will not apply if your child currently at the elementary school moves up to middle school in the following school year.

There is no sibling preference for community-based prekindergarten programs.


Q: What is neighborhood preference?

A: A child who lives within his or her neighborhood elementary school enrollment zone or within a half-mile of a magnet school will have a better chance of getting into a prekindergarten class at that school This is called "neighborhood preference."

Prekindergarteners with neighborhood preference are drawn second in the prekindergarten lottery.

Neighborhood preference works only if your first-choice prekindergarten program is located in your neighborhood school enrollment zone or a half-mile from your home for a magnet school.


Q: If one of my children gets a seat but the other doesn’t, do I now have sibling preference?

A: It depends. If one child gets assigned to a magnet/themed program, the other child will have sibling preference in the waiting pool once you accept the seat for and register the first child. Your child will not have sibling preference if you applied to a neighborhood elementary school or community program and were assigned to a waiting list.


Q: How are twins and other siblings handled in the lottery?

A: You can choose how you want the district to process the lottery applications for two or more siblings (twins, triplets or children of different ages). You have two options:

1) Link your children's applications and have them move through the lottery. Your children with linked applications will be assigned to a school or program only if they all receive spots. If a school or program does not have enough room for all your children, then none of them will be assigned there.

2) Do not link your children's applications together. Your children's applications will move through the lottery process separately, which could result in them being assigned to different schools or programs. If you opt to not link your children's applications, each will go through the lottery and be assigned individually. In that case, it's possible that  your children will not be assigned to the same school or program. However, you can accept a spot i the school or program one of your children gets into, and your other child's or children's application(s) will have sibling preference.


Q: What are my chances of getting a neighborhood preference or sibling preference school if I do not put it as my first choice?

A: Sibling preference and neighborhood preference only apply to your first choice. They do not apply to your other choices.


Q: Can I remain in the waiting pool for a magnet school and accept a seat in neighborhood or community-based prekindergarten program?

A: Yes.


Q: Can I be in a waiting pool for more than one magnet school?

A: Yes, but only if you have not been accepted into any prekindergarten program and two or more of your preferred programs are at magnet schools.


Q: Can I be on a waiting list for more than one neighborhood or community-based prekindergarten program?

A: No.