CPS Pre-school Enrollment??

Updated on October 09, 2008
V.S. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers

Hello Everyone,

I am currently in the process of enrolling my 2 1/2 yr old for CPS Pre-school for all for the 2009-2010 school year. I hear from a lot of people it is vital to get your applications in early to even get in. So I had some questions:

*How hard is it really?? People say to apply to all schools you are willing to drive to (one mom registered to 20 schools!!!) Is this really necessary??
*Since the CPS doesn't know what schools you registered for, how long do they give you to accept placement?
*All the schools we have applied for (Onahan, Oriole Park, Ebinger, Norwood Park & Stock) gave us different date ranges of when there letters come out. So if you accept to one but then get a letter for another school you liked better can you un-enroll and enroll in that one???
*We were thinking of 4 other schools in that area (Farnsworth, Hitch, Beard, Beaubien), Is it really better to apply to more schools?? I really liked the 1st bunch we applied to better but I know that they are very popular programs and don't want her not to get in to any!!
*How strict are they on the potty training?? Is having accidents a big deal??

Any help anyone can give on this process is greatly appreciated

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answers from Chicago on

V. -

I have been throught this and believe me it is difficult to understand CPS, mainly because each school is different. Some things to consider

1. Apply to all possible prek schools you are willing to drive to. Unfortunately, the way the system is set up, everyone is forced to do this so there is a ton of shuffling that happens.
2. The notification starts in March/early April and can go on for months. You will be told in the acceptance letter how long you have to accept. It is usually a couple weeks to a month when you get notified early. Later on they give you shorter times and may just call and ask you to decide right on the phone.
3. The reason the timing is all over the place is that parents accept at one school and wait until they hear from their priority school. Once they hear from a better school, they change their enrollment. This happens into the frist couple weeks of school. This is why all of the shuffling and the phone calls, etc.

So, while I think it is not the best way to do this, I think it is really the only way for schools that are in popular demand. Also, regarding accidents, the programs/teachers are good about it. The kids have extra clothes and the teachers are prepared for the probability that it will happen.

good luck. it is definitely more stressful than it needs to be.

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answers from Chicago on

V., just from our own experience, in certain neighborhoods the pre-K's are all full and they prioritize 4-year olds over 3 year-olds. (This is for state pre-K programs.) We applied to every one within 2 miles and didn't get accepted at any, including the neighborhood school. Each school does it differently and is on a different timeline. Few followed up with us.. we just didn't get a call... so keep in contact with your preferred schools. I would accept your B-rated choice until you get definitive answers from your A-rated choices. Also, keep in mind that it's just pre-school. You don't have to make a committment to them and for the most part they don't have to make a committment to you for K through 8. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We went through this last year. My son is 3.5 and in preschool at Goethe. Originally we applied to 6 schools, some of which were magnet schools and some that weren't. All programs we applied to were lottery enrollment and we weren't chosen for any of them. So, we looked into another school that is local to us and we had heard through the neighborhood that the school was hugely improved. We checked it out and applied that day (April). Our son was accepted and has loved it everyday! I guess what I'm trying to say is that you should apply to every school you will drive to, which can take a lot of time. We're so glad our school is close because 3 hours go surprisingly fast and it's every day of the week. Also, the acceptance dates were only about a week after learning you were accepted. I don't know about the accepting or declining another program.

Re: potty training, your child does need to be potty trained. They recognize that children will have accidents, but if they do, you have to come and change your child, but they can continue to stay at school. I don't think they consider it a "big deal", but for everyone's sanity, I wouldn't send your child if they weren't keeping clean or dry basically all the time, except maybe at night.

Good luck and try not to stress out too much!



answers from Chicago on

Hi V.,

I have one child at Stock and one at Farnsworth.

I think it's a good idea to apply to a few schools but it is even more important to do some campaigning at your top preference. For instance, when we decided on Stock for my son, we called and asked for a tour and meeting with the Principal (who by the way is absolutely awesome!) Dr. Smith. Once you have toured the classrooms and have decided what your top picks are, I would reccomend you talk to as many people as possible and inquiry about status every chance you get. At Farnsworth, (Dr Wells) we made sure to meet with the principal and to also make it a point to stop and say hello to her several times before we we finally received our acceptance letter.

I think it helps a lot if they know who you and your children are and also that you are very most invested in have your family a part of the school.

A little about me:

Working mom of 3 & 1/2 year old micro preemie twins who are doing excellently!!!



answers from Chicago on

Most CPS pre-schools prioritize kids w/ some sort of special need: speech, learning disability, etc. I know they just started a CPS pre-school in my area (Midway) that seems to accept all kids ages 3 and 4. They have 3 classes throughout the day; M-F. I am assuming this is some sort of pilot program, but a few of neighbors are sending their 3 year olds there and have been very pleased with the curriculum so far. You may want to call CPS district office and see if there will be something like this opening near your neighborhood.
If not, I would also start looking at private or park district pre-schools as well. Many of the Chicago Park Districts have pre-schools that are reasonably priced and are very good.
Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

My son started CPS pre K at Beaubien at 3, but it was because he needed a little speech therapy. I was under the impression that 3 year olds are not priority, and that the first priority goes to 4's who will enter kindergarten the following year. Anyway, I hope you get into one of them. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I am a preschool teacher myself and can answer some of your questions. Yes it is very good to apply to as many as possible because all the programs can and will fill up. It is a gamble as to whether or not you should wait for your favorites. You might get in and you might not, and the spots are only held for so long. I know that Stock will be the most difficult on your list, because they have an amazing program for kids with special needs and they also have a principal that truly understands how young children learn. I would love to teach for that school someday. You have to go with your gut and hope that your favorites call you first. I know that many public schools do not penalize you if you pull your kid out because you found another opening. Plus, if you pull them out early then the school can find someone else to take your spot.
We understand that young children will have accidents, and usually most schools allow a certain amount of accidents. I heard that my friend went to a school that was three accidents and your kicked out. I think that is absurd and most schools do not follow that policy. Just talk to the teacher and principal and they will let you know their policy on accidents. I usually only have a possible pull out discussion with parents when the child is having one or two accidents a day, which says to me that they are not ready for preschool. I hope this helps and good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I also had to enroll my 3 old twin girls...they were preemies and considered high risk..i know from the whole 2mth registering ordeal....at risk children are given preference and bilingual kids, the parents can choose a school anywhere in Chicago that will provide for their child...you should ask and make sure they will except your daugther for reg preschool next year..before going thru the whole enrollment process....one of my girls had a very minor speech problem...really nothing at all, but the CPS group of therapist, social worker, early childhood pros.. put that in her IEP so she could get into the system....and they would not take her unless she was potty trained...CPS has TWA's aides (i think thats what they're called), which deal with bus duty and changing diapers...if the school doesnt have these aides...they will not take your child....my daughter was in pull ups and they still wouldn't take her...she was put on a waiting list..my other daughter is disabled and was excepted immediately and I chose a school no where near me, but it offered a great program for her..she was given priority over the children living in that area....my personal opinion...i didnt like the CPS reg prechool...i hate the fact that kids from lower income areas are getting bused into "higher property tax areas" schools have to meet quotas..thats how they get their money....my husband is also a cop, we're a biracial couple whom attended CPS and also worked in the school system as adults...we both decided to enroll our other daughter in a catholic school, if the other twin was fine..they would be together in a private school...hope the info helps...


answers from Chicago on

My experience is right on target with Judith and I was told that the 4 year olds had preference to the 3 year olds and there are usually 20 4 year olds in the neighborhood so very little, if any 3 year olds get in. I applied to all the same schools on your first list with the exception that Beaubien was on my A list (which I never heard from). Most schools sent a form reply letter. I do have a nephew who goes to Stock, but he attends from 3-5:30 daily but that is one of the few who offer multiple sessions of pre-K per day. So I now have my 3 year old in Pre school at the Park District which she attends twice a week and she really likes it. So, that can always be your back-up plan so your daughter is enrolled. Hope this helps and good luck with your application process.



answers from Chicago on

Be happy that it seems you have so many good schools to choose from! The school should give you a deadline to accept and register if you get chosen. Where we live, there are maybe 5 or 6 preschools that are convenient, and have good programs. They required a deposit with the application. If you did not register when you were chosen, you would lose all or most of your deposit. I believe they did this to cut down on people sending out so many applications. My advice is to go with your gut, if you get the acceptance from one of your first choices, go for it and ditch the rest...if they are all good schools, you won't know the slight differences between them once your child starts going to the one you choose!
Also, your child is 2 1/2 now, but will be 3 1/2 when she actually starts preschool....the potty training will be much further along by then or most likely completed. In my experience, the schools are very strict on the children being potty trained, if they had an accident, the school called to have you come and change/clean your child up if necessary. The school would need a different type of certificate to be "qualified" to change diapers (I think it is a daycare license vs a preschool)
I know it seems like a monumental decision, but if these schools are all so good, you will probably have a good experience at any of them, so relax a bit! If you have applied to 5 or 6 or more schools, she should get into at least one! If there is no deposit required, knock yourself out and apply to as many as you want. It sounds like there is a massive shuffle going on in your system, and there is no penality for you ditching one school if you get another offer you think is better for you. Your system sounds like a massive pain in the butt! Ours was probably not much better.... We have waiting lists and $150 deposits, so we are forced to be selective, but I don't have any friends that did not end up at some program in our community that was good (maybe not their first choice) My daughter got into her school (the only one we applied to, because we did not have deposit money to burn like some of my more wealthy neighbors!)The school had a list system and my husband sat in a parking lot at the school at 4 a.m. untill 7a.m. when they put the sign up list out! We got her on the list to definitly get a spot, but we were put on the waiting list for our first choice of classes, because alumni and their siblings get priority (she was enrolled in our second choice) We got a call in early August, that someone had moved and we got our first choice, but even if we had not, it would not have made any difference in retrospect!...it will all come out all right! Focus on enjoying how much she will blossom and grow-- no matter which school she attends. GOOD LUCK



answers from Chicago on

Call the pre-school for all department- they will answer all your questions.

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