What do I need to know about entering Kindergarten in JCPS?

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Tips for Transitioning to Jefferson County Public Schools-Updated October 2013

Look Out Kindergarten, Here We Come!

PhotobucketPhotobucketIf sending your five-year-old off to school on their own wasn’t daunting enough, trying to figure out how to understand the application process for JCPS is probably enough to send you over the edge. Here I will try to give you pointers, advice from a seasoned JCPS parent, and lots of connections to agencies that partner with JCPS and are there to serve you. Because after all the tears are shed after the first few days of school as a greenie kindergartner and proud parent, you know that happy days and fun memories are just around the corner. Clear out some space in one of your Rubbermaid totes; you’re going to need it for all those keepsakes!

* The application process for entering kindergartners new to Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) begins on November 18, 2013. Seems like you have some time, but the best thing to do is to get started now. That way when you go to the Showcase of Schools on November 16th, you can have your list of questions ready that you’ve been coming up with over the weeks that you spent working on applying.

* All students entering kindergarten in 2014-2015 school year will complete an online registration. See the JCPS website for updated information.

* Starting with the 2013-2014 school year, all applications must be submitted online. If parents do not have internet access at home, there will be 15 registration sites throughout the city with staff to help parents through the process.

* Two phrases or questions you are going to hear a lot is “What is your resides school?” and “What is your cluster?” Your resides school is determined by your home address. Most people can find this by going online here and typing in your street address. Since the year that my daughter entered JCPS, the application process has changed slightly. It used to be a paper form that was designed for your cluster and it was based on your home address. Parents had to rank from 1-4 their choices of schools that they wanted their child to be admitted to. Since the student assignment plan has changed over the past couple of years, the clusters have changed and are more aligned to areas of the city than they used to be. For instance, when my daughter entered JCPS in 2009 we were in cluster 4. We decided to choose as our number 1 choice a school different from our resides. This ended up being a great decision for us. Although the process still seems challenging, it does seem more streamlined to me now, since they have since changed the clusters. Once your kindergartener is admitted to a school in your cluster, he or she will remain there until middle school, so you only have to apply once. Each of the 13 clusters contains schools that are demographically close to the area you live in and you may apply to any school within your cluster, in addition to magnet schools and other options if you wish to pursue them. The application process to magnet schools is completely different.

* Look over the 2014-2015 CHOICES guide book for JCPS elementary schools here. You will find valuable information about school descriptions, clusters, applying to magnet schools and the NEW online application process.

* Families will be notified in March of their placement for a magnet school and April for their cluster assignment; your child will be placed in a school within your cluster that is determined by your resides school.

* If you work and need after school care for your child, I can recommend the YMCA Childcare Enrichment Program that is offered at many of the elementary schools in JCPS. They offer before school care from 7am until school starts; after school care goes until 6pm. My daughter had to attend childcare when I was still working and we had a great experience with CEP. It is affordable and they also offer tuition assistance to those who qualify. They offered many activities, including setting aside time daily to work on homework, actively getting the kids moving with fun games, and offered a healthy snack as well.

Where to go for more information:

The Parent Connection eNews is an online magazine for parents of JCPS students
Facebook Page – they seem to be updating regularly and answering questions in their post fields

PhotobucketCheck out your local branch library at Louisville Free Public Library. Grab some books about starting kindergarten and school. Get involved in the Kindergarten Countdown program!

4-Cs, Community Coordinated Childcare, is an advocacy group for parents! You can always call them with questions or concerns you have. Please do not rely solely on the information posted here! Contact your school for all the best and most direct answers pertaining to your child’s needs.

You can also contact the Parent Assistance Center at (502) 485-6250.

Remember, many school representatives will be present at the JCPS Showcase of Schools on Saturday, November 16th from 10am-3pm. It is held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Hall 1AB. If you are interested in the very popular optional, magnet, or advance programs that JCPS offers, you will have a chance to speak to those individuals and even students who participate in the programs. The online application period for JCPS elementary schools is Mon., Nov. 18 2013, through Fri., Jan. 10, 2014. Information on the application process will be available at the showcases, and it will be available here during the application period.

By guest contributor: Erin

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  • Here is the link directly to the tab on JCPS about Applying to Elementary Schools if you want to add it to the article…

  • Wow, thank you, Erin! I am surprised how much things have changed since I enrolled my child in JCPS a couple years ago.

  • I feel like I need help. I am in Cluster 10, with my reside school as Bowen, but I want to get into Stopher (which is closet to my house and in my cluster). Last year most people in my area got Bowen and not Stopher, how do you get into your top choice. I wanted to know if there is anything I can do to help my placement. This is my first child to go to school so I feel a little lost, and like I can't really determine what school she gets into.

  • I'm a teacher in jcps and I don't know a whole lot, but I'm pretty sure that there's not really anything you can do but put stopher as your first choice. The district just looks at all numbers and makes decisions based on that. If anyone knows any special tricks, I'd love to know them for when my daughter is in school!

  • We enrolled our son in 2011. Back then, it worked like this: Applicants with siblings already at a school were considered first. Next consideration went to resides applicants who put the school as their 1st choice. Any remaining spots went to non-resides applicants who put the school as their #1 choice. After that, if any spots remained they'd begin looking at applicants who didn't get their #1 choice, but put the school as their #2.
    If it still works this way, Brynn, your chance of getting Stopher depends on how many siblings and resides students apply. If there are a lot, there simply may not be a space left to accommodate your child. If you strongly prefer to not be placed at Bowen, it may be worth rolling the dice and putting Stopher as your first choice. But if Bowen is a close second in order of preference, I'd strongly consider letting Stopher go and putting Bowen as your top choice. Hope this helps.

  • I think all you can do is list it as your top choice, like Lauren said. You can apply for a hardship transfer way after the app period, and you won't know for sure what school you have until summer. It's hard!

  • The thought of putting my first born into kindergarten scares the be-jeezus out of me. On one hand, I want him close to home, not considering an optional traditional or magnet school, and on the other, I would love for him to be given more structure and pushed harder.

    He is currently in pre-school, and also did Child's Day Out. My husband and I feel that he has so much potential, however, we did decide not to push it with the optional tradional programs, and to stick with our cluster.

    Which brings me to my question. We are in Cluster 4. I've put Auburndale as my #1, and Kenwood as my #2 (both where I attended elementary) – but was curious as to more insight on the other schools in our cluster. I had to rank them all. I'm hoping I did the right thing. More hoping that I don't have to worry about pics #3-7.

    And also, when will we know??? I'm pretty sure we'll find out in April, but would love to know sooner!


    • I also opted not to apply for traditional or magnet school. (I have one in K and one in 3rd). I feel they are challenged but excelling in our resides school. I do not regret my decision to place them at a school close to our home.

      I'm in a different cluster than you, so I can't speak specifically about the schools your child may attend. I will say that it is hard letting your first child go to K. However, it quickly becomes exciting as you observe all of the growth they experience and see their interpretation of the world around them. You'll see your child do great at things and you'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief that you helped to prepare them well.

      As for notification, I believe it is at the end of the school year. I know that I knew in time for preschool grad in May. Best wishes!!

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