This year my son turns five, meaning that this fall he’ll start his long journey on the road of knowledge, otherwise known as attending kindergarten. Well, that’s only if his mom can figure out the registration process!
Over the past few years I’ve heard horror stories from some of my mommy friends about enrolling their children into the school system. Waiting lists, long lines, getting recommendations, playing every angle, etc. However, I always chalked it up to the quirks and annoyances that come with living in “The Big City.” Out in the ‘burbs, life was simpler, surely getting the little ones into public school would be a breeze. Boy, was I wrong.
I got my first inkling of what this whole kindergarten registration process entailed when I visited our town’s Board Of Education website last week. The Hubs & I figured that kindergarten registration would take place sometime in the spring, we’d have plenty of time. Ha! Much to our surprise, registration had already started! It’s only the middle of January and I’m already behind on getting my kid into school for the fall? I quickly clicked on the “Incoming Kindergarten Registration” tab to find out more. Here’s the letter that greeted me:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Welcome to the **** Public School System. Our district is composed of two K-5 elementary schools, **** and **** Elementary Schools and **** Middle School for grades 6-8. **** has a well earned, outstanding reputation. I invite you to become part of our award winning school district.
So far, so good. It went on:
- Step #1: Fill out the on-line preliminary registration form (Click here)
- Step #2: Please down load and fill out the enrollment, medical, and residency forms (Click Here).
- Step #3: In April, your building Principal will contact you to make an individual appointment.
Wait, did I read this correctly? I need to pre-register my kid online now only to have to register him again, in person in April? I was confused. It ended:
- **** and **** Elelmentary Schools will provide new kindergarten students a visitation where the children will meet the staff and take a tour of the building with principals
The only part of this bullet point that confused me is how could the BOE actually misspell “Elementary” in the last line! You’re the education system in this town, and you can’t even spell?
So, I got on the phone to the BOE to make sure I read it correctly, and apparently I wasn’t the only parent baffled by their process. A rep explained the January enrollment was just a way for them get a rough headcount for the classroom. Personally, I think it’s a way for them to keep neurotic parents busy and stop them from calling them every two seconds asking when registration will start, what teacher they’ll be assigned and a million other annoying questions! I was also told that pre-registering guarantees me a one-on-one registration with the principal of the elementary school my son will actually attend (determined by where you live in town). I asked “If you don’t pre-register, then who do you get assigned to register with?” The rep kinda chuckled and said “that’s a good question, the vice principal I guess.”
Anyway, I downloaded the forms, which amounted to about 10 double-sided sheets of paper, about half of which you actually have to fill out. There are lots of official law codes listed on these papers, most of these papers determine whether your child can actually attend school in the district. There is a student registration form, a health history form, a residency affidavit AND a Domicile form. In addition to having the residency affidavit signed by a notary public, I also have to bring FOUR different proofs of information that demonstrate I live at my address. My state’s DMV requires only TWO forms of acceptable ID. Now I have to dig thru property tax bills, deeds of sale for the house, voter registrations, utility bills and delivery receipts to get the appropriate documentation.
Is getting into school really this hard? This is kindergarten, not Harvard!
Out of curiosity, I called my mom to ask her what registration was like for me more than 35 years ago. She said she showed up on the first day of school with a birth certificate, a neon yellow card that proved all my immunizations were up to date, and a piece of mail that had her current name and address on it (she couldn’t even remember if it had to be something “official” like a utility bill). That was it, I was “in.”
Times certainly have changed. I guess when you live in a desirable school district, some people try to take advantage and sneak their kids in. That begs a larger discussion about this country’s entire education system, clearly a column for another time.
Right now I’m keeping my April schedule WIDE-OPEN so I’ll be ready when the Principal calls on me!
What was kindergarten registration like for you and your kidlet? What are you most looking forward to about that first day of school?