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Early Childhood Programs

Images of Pre-K Students

Download an Application for Pre-K. Applications should be submitted to the Pre-K office, care of Deb Mahool, by August 1, 2019.

The Ithaca City School District Prekindergarten program provides comprehensive educational programs designed to meet the learning needs and styles of preschoolers. Working in partnership with families and staff to create a safe, caring, learning environment that is both supportive and challenging for children. The ICSD has been providing early childhood education programs for 4-year-olds at local elementary schools since 1975.

Programs are supported by a variety of funding sources including: NYS Preschool Special Education, Head Start, NYS Universal Prekindergarten and Ithaca City School District support.


Laura Evans, Pre-K-12 Literacy Officer
(607) 274-2208

Deb Mahool, Sr. Typist
(607) 274-2208

Deborah Jordan, CPSE Chair
(607) 277-3060

Ginna McCormick, CPSE Sr. Typist
(607) 277-3060



How old does my child have to be for Pre-K?

All students who live within the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) boundaries and will be 4 years old on or before December 1, 2019 are eligible to apply.

Q How do students get selected for Pre-K?

Eligibility for all programs is determined by federal income guidelines. Additional openings are available for 4-year-olds not meeting these guidelines through a lottery system held the second week in August. There is no fee for these programs. Children are placed at their home elementary school as much as possible.

Q When will I find out if my child has been accepted for Pre-K?

The ICSD will send notification home the last week of June, and letters should arrive by June 30, 2019. Students who meet income guidelines will be accepted first, and all others will be placed on a wait list. The next round of acceptances will take place the last week of July, again those students meeting income guidelines will be accepted and all others will be placed on the wait list. The final round of acceptances will take place the second week in August, during which we will hold a lottery for students above the income guidelines for any remaining available spots.

Q Why does the Ithaca City School District require income documents?

We require income documents as per Policy 5150.1 to verify income eligibility, in addition to the statement of income on the application itself. Acceptable forms of income documents include but are not limited to: 1040, W-2, public assistant documents, unemployment documents, self-attestations claiming no income, written and signed statements from employers, foster care documentation, SSI documentation and/or paycheck stubs. 

Q How does the Ithaca City School District’s Pre-K funding work?

The ICSD receives funding for Pre-K from New York state through Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) and Preschool Special Education, and from the federal government through Head Start. The ICSD also contributes to Pre-K from the general fund. All of these funding sources come together to create an integrated program, where children learn and grow together.

Q Which schools have Pre-K?

For the 2019-20 school year, Pre-K will be offered in the following buildings:

  • Belle Sherman – 1 section
  • Beverly J. Martin – 4 sections
  • Caroline – 2 sections
  • Enfield – 2 sections
  • South Hill – 2 sections
  • Fall Creek – 1 section 
Children whose districted home schools are not on this list are still eligible to attend. If a child qualifies for Pre-K, she/he will be bussed to another school. We will continue to follow income guidelines for acceptance and provide programming for students with significant special needs and students from low-income families.
Q What are the hours of ICSD Pre-K?

We have two different schedules within our program. This is due to a recent New York State Education Department review. Some of our classrooms are mandated to operate 5 days a week, for 5 full hours each day. Some of our classrooms are not under this requirement. The classroom schedules are either: Monday-Friday 7:45-12:45, or Monday-Thursday 8:00-2:00 and Friday 8:00-10:30. These schedules depend on placement (i.e. not on parent choice/request). Once a child is placed in a classroom movement is extremely difficult. 

Q Where can I find after school child care?
Child Development Council After School Care


The Child Development Council assists families in finding affordable after school care for their children. Visit or call 607.273.0259 to learn more. 

Q My child was placed on the wait list. Is it possible that she/he might still get in?

The ICSD accepts all children who are income eligible first. Children above the income guidelines are placed on the wait list. We hold lotteries for all remaining spaces during the second week in August. If your child is selected through the lottery, you will receive a letter in mid-August. Otherwise, your child will remain on the wait list. Throughout the year, spaces become available for a variety of reasons (change in placement, moving, etc.). When this happens, we access the wait list.

Q Why didn't my child receive a wait list number?

The ICSD is committed to providing Pre-K programming to children who are income eligible, and children with significant special needs first. Because of this, when we receive applications from children who are income eligible, their names go to the top of the wait list. We don't assign wait list numbers, because applications continue to come in throughout the summer (and school year). 

Q Are there other UPK sites?

Yes. The UPK grant allows us to collaborate with different organizations in the community, to provide quality prekindergarten for 4-year-olds. For the 2019-20 school year, we have UPK classrooms at the following sites:

Contact the Early Childhood/Pre-K Office at (607) 274-2208 if you have any additional questions.


The ICSD Pre-K Speech Therapists have developed a website about speech/language development and therapy services. This site can be useful for both Pre-K teachers and families.

Click ICSD Speech and Language to visit their website.

Visit, to access resources regarding Preschool Development and Special Education. 


Pre-K Attendance Policy
Pre-K Family Handbook
Bus Safety Information

After School Care: Child Development Council
Resources: Preschool Development & Special Education

Belle Sherman
Beverly J Martin
Cayuga Heights
Fall Creek
South Hill
Boynton Middle
DeWitt Middle
Ithaca HS
Lehman Alternative


Ithaca City School District
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent
400 Lake Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-2101