Kindergarten registration: it’s not a race, so slow down

As of January 4th, Unit 4 officially opened up the annual Kindergarten Registration (http://www.champaignschools.org/news-room/article/11806) period. For the next three months (up until the end of March), parents are encouraged to consider which schools they might want their young child (or children) to attend for Kindergarten.

 

The school selection process (which goes by many names, but the school district calls it “Schools of Choice”) has been steadily evolving; the current iteration now includes a small subset of historical data.

This is just a resource for those that like to peer under the covers a little more (like me *grin*). The Choice Committee is trying hard to stay away from terms like “overchosen”, while simultaneously offering a simple website to review and links for more research for those that want it.

 

As I suggested previously, I highly recommend you figure out what you want first (ie, a school nearby? balanced calendar? STEM? Dual-language immersion?) and then start taking advantage of the many resources on the Choice website, including the not-so-small 56-page booklet packed with information, or social communities like chambanamoms.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. The idea is to help reduce stress as much as possible. 🙂

 

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Registration 2014

welcome_to_kindergartenThe infamous “Kindergarten Lottery” has been in full swing, having started a couple months early this year (January as opposed to March). Aside from policy changes and a new Kindergarten program (Dual-language immersion housed at the revolving door school building on Kirby), I learned a couple things from Stephanie Stuart today.

First, she played a major role in curating a bunch of relevant information and teaming up with a graphic designer to produce a “Welcome to Kindergarten” booklet. The booklet does a really good job of explaining the complexity of Schools of Choice, why we have it, how it works and even has a little lexicon for icons used on the registration form and the jargon used in the Policy. It also includes a list of frequently asked questions (with requisite answers, of course *grin*), and a two-page spread that introduces and highlights each of the 12 elementary school choices. And the very end, the Policy of Controlled Choice is laid out in 6 pages. Overall, the booklet is 42 pages – a little meaty, but it is packed. I am anxious to hear what other parents think of it.

Secondly, I feel like a buffoon for having missed this, but parents this year will not be using an online registration program at all. Last year, the District debuted  a program from Dr. Alves that was problematic, but it got the job done. This year, the District contracted with Codagami, and apparently the contract called to replace only the internal part of the tool, such that Unit 4 staff will utilize the new program. Parents are dialing back to 2012 and having to fill out forms which they submit to the Family Information Center. The current form does not appear to have any of the helpful icons from the booklet, so I am a little confused as to whether the form listed on unit4registration website is really the same form parents are filling out or not.

As stated on the Unit 4 webpage, here are some dates for those wishing to attend a scheduled information event:

  • February 27th, 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.: Tours at all elementary schools
  • March 3, 6:00 pm: Schools of Choice Community Forum at Stratton Elementary School
  • March 5, 8-9 a.m. & 12-1 p.m.: Informational Choice Chat at the Family Information Center
  • March 6, 5-6 p.m.: Informational Choice Chat at the Family Information Center
  • March 11, 8-9 a.m. & 12-1 p.m.: Informational Choice Chat at the Family Information Center

UPDATE: Please use the Proximity App, not the old WebQuery tool.

In an interesting little twist, the district’s web version of “EduLog” (a program that tells the distance from a given address to all schools, sorted by proximity) called “WebQuery” even includes St. Matt’s and Prairie Elementary. 🙂

edulog_sample

Kindergarten registration now open

A new thing this year is that registration for Kindergarten school assignment is open two months early. Keep in mind, the online software from Codagami is not yet available – basically, parents are invited to start researching the schools, visit the Family Information Center, and fill out registration forms in person if they so wish. The results will still be posted sometime in April, and there are no “early bird” points.

Another new thing is that the language has changed such that families are encouraged to rank all 12 Kindergarten options (including the newly announced Spanish-English dual-language immersion program at the Kirby Street school). The sole purpose of this language change is to reduce the number of parents who end up “unassinged” at the end of the registration period. The downside is that some parents might be more stressed and more confused (“Do I have to rank all 12 options?”; “What if I only rank 3?”; “Is the Magnent School Registration still concurrent, and if so, what if I mark a magnet school as my 5th choice?”; etc). The bottom line is that if a parent only “chooses” popular schools, their chances of being unassigned is above zero percent (maybe only 1%). If a parent “chooses” more than seven schools, the chance of being unassigned drops to a fractional number, and if they rank all 12 options, they are guaranteed to be assigned to one of them. (Just straight up logic and common sense there *grin*)

http://www.champaignschools.org/news-room/article/6446

Starting January 2, 2014, families with incoming kindergarten students residing in the Champaign Unit #4 School District may register for the 2014-2015 school year and rank their elementary school preferences in the Schools of Choice process.

Families should register during the designated period that runs from January 2-March 31, 2014 to increase chances of placement into one of their preferred schools. Students must turn five on or before September 1, 2014 to register. Families will need to visit the Champaign Schools Family Information Center (1103 N. Neil Street) to register and will be asked to provide a birth certificate and proof of residency at the time of registration.

This year, families will be advised to rank all elementary school choices in the Schools of Choice process. In addition to the 11 elementary school options, families will also have access to a 12th option, theSpanish-English Dual Language Two-Way Immersion Program that will begin next school year with kindergarten students at the  1605 W. Kirby Avenue school location.

A number of community forums and tour dates will be held during the registration period to allow families the opportunity to visit schools and have them questions answered by the Schools of Choice specialists.

For more information on registration, Schools of Choice, community forums, tour dates, and hours of operation, please visit www.unit4registration.org.

Families may also contact the Family Information Center:

1103 N. Neil Street

Champaign, IL 61820

217-351-3701

Controlled Choice Community Forums

choice_community_forum

From Stephanie Stuart:

Champaign Schools will hold informational forums to discuss the Schools of Choice registration process, which will run from January 2-March 31, 2014. Children must be 5 on or before September 1, 2014 to register for kindergarten.

Forums will include a Showcase of Schools. This will provide an opportunity for parents and guardians to meet and talk with individual school staff members. Please see the attached flyer.

Community Forum Meetings

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 6:00 p.m. Stratton Elementary

902 N. Randolph Street – Champaign

(Parking is available on the north side of the building)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 6:00 p.m. Barkstall Elementary

2201 Hallbeck Drive – Champaign

(Parking lot is located on the east side of the building)

Elementary School Tours

Thursday, January 23, 2014, Tuesday, February 11, 2014 and Thursday, February 27, 2014. All elementary schools will offer tours at 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. on these three days.

 

Elementary Schools Evening Open House

Evening Open House/School Tours are on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 from 6:00 p.m-8:00 p.m., at any of the twelve elementary schools. Families unable to attend a scheduled Open House should visit the Family Information Center for assistance with the Schools of Choice process.

Middle School Open House

Jefferson – Monday, April 7, 2014; Edison – Thursday, April 10, 2014 and

Franklin – Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

All Middle School open houses are scheduled from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

6th Grade Registration – April 7-11, 2014

Stratton & Washington 5th Grade Students

*5th graders attending their cluster school do not need to register at FIC.*

Elementary & Middle School Transfer Requests For 1st – 8th Grade – May 1-30, 2014

 

For more information, please contact the Family Information Center:

1103 N. Neil Street – Champaign IL 61820 – (217) 351-3701

Unit 4 online registration being turned off at 8:am Thursday, March 28th

EDIT: I said Friday, but I meant Thursday. Sorry!

This was a little bit of a surprise, especially for anyone waiting for the last moment. 🙂 If you want to do your registration online, do it before 8:am!!

http://www.champaignschools.org/news/news_view.php?action=view&news_type=press_release&id_news=776

The final day of the Schools of Controlled Choice registration period will end tomorrow, March 28, 2013 at 7 p.m.

Parents beginning their registration online will need to come to the Family Information Center by 7 p.m. tomorrow to complete their applications and verify residency. If families do not complete this final step of verifying residency in person by tomorrow’s deadline, they will not be included in the assignment process. Families can also complete all of the necessary paperwork in person at the Family Information Center.

To reduce the number of incomplete applications, we will de-activate the online registration form tomorrow morning, March 28 at 8 a.m. to encourage parents to visit the Family Information Center on this final day. We believe this will help families ensure their applications are complete.

Since tomorrow is the last day of the registration period, we will have additional staff on hand until the Family Information Center closes at 7 p.m.

Registration Dashboard: The school selections are now a lot more open

unit4-dashboard  First, go here: http://choice.champaignschools.org/onlineforms2013/firstchoice.aspx

Yes, Unit 4 finally has a good (ie, decent) look at registration numbers. Armed with this knowledge (for those whom take advantage of it – not everyone will), I can see two things happening:

  1. Some parents will want to “rush” to be first on the list (which is not counted at all – first or last gets the same priority), some parents will tarry until the end of March to see what the numbers look like. I am betting more will wait (of those that look at the dashboard).
  2. Parents will see some “overchosen” schools and make different choices. I think that is a good thing – it increases the chances of getting the school you select for everyone involved.

The tricky part will be “is this too much information?” Will it lead to more confusion with statistics, proximity and priorities? Will the not-so-tech-savvy utilize this tool much by asking folks at the Family Information Center (FIC)?

Overall, I think it is a great thing; I have been looking forward to this information for several years. It is encouraging that the school district sees this as important as well.

Also, the vendor (enrolledU and his software partners) have fixed a number of problems, including the issue with seeing my child’s name, but at the cost of removing the notification of a sibling priority altogether. Probably safer than sorry, but I hope they meet a compromise next time. Also, they fixed an issue with picking the program which I had not noticed before.

PS – I still prefer pictures (ie, a pie chart). Maybe that’s just me.

Interesting news from Unit 4 about the new registration "dashboard"

From Stephanie Stuart about the new registration “dashboard“:

http://www.champaignschools.org/news/news_view.php?action=view&news_type=press_release&id_news=747

 

Statement Regarding Online Kindergarten Registration Dashboard
March 7, 2013

This year, Champaign Schools made it a priority to improve transparency around our Schools of Controlled Choice system for kindergarten registration. As part of this effort, we launched a parent dashboard as part of our online registration system, which allows parents to track specific information on the number of applicants to each elementary school. While are excited to offer this new feature, we’re aware that many parents have experienced errors when registering online and have found it difficult to access the dashboard after submitting their application.

We are very concerned about these issues and are working with our technical team to resolve them. We are also working with our team to provide a stand-alone parent dashboard so that this information is more easily accessible on our website. We anticipate these issues will be resolved and live on our website by Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

We are also offering daily technical support for the online registration and choice application system from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Central Time Zone. If you experience an error with the on-line system please email support@enrolledu.us.

In addition to visiting or calling our Family Information Center (1103 N. Neil Street in Champaign, 351-3701) you may also contact any of the following District employees who are happy to assist with your questions and concerns:

For More Information, Contact:
Stephanie Stuart, Community Relations Coordinator
stuartst@champaignschools.org
(217) 351-3822

 

I have an outstanding question to Dr. Wiegand and Tom Lockman (as of March 3rd):

“I am curious, we have contracted to pay $92,000 to Dr. Alves’ company, but in the contract he also specified that he would work on an hourly basis as needed (just like his previous contract). I believe he listed $100/hour and another rate ($62/hour?) for his colleagues. Is the work that Dr. Alves is doing this weekend and ongoing to fix the problems of the initial software deployment part of the $92,000, or are we now above and beyond that amount?”