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FAQs - Early Childhood/Pre-K

Q

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

A

All students who live within the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) boundaries and will be 4 years old on or before December 1, 2022, are eligible to apply.

Q

How do students get selected for pre-K?

A

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?

A

The ICSD sends notifications home the last week of June. Students who meet income guidelines will be accepted first, and all others will be placed on a waitlist. 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 waitlist. 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?

A

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?

A

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?

A

Pre-K is 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, they 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?

A

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?

A

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

Child Development Council info

Q

My child was placed on the waitlist. Is it possible that they might still get in?

A

The ICSD accepts all children who are income-eligible first. Children above the income guidelines are placed on the waitlist. 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 waitlist. Throughout the year, spaces become available for a variety of reasons (change in placement, moving, etc.). When this happens, we access the waitlist.

Q

Why didn't my child receive a waitlist number?

A

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 waitlist. We don't assign waitlist numbers, because applications continue to come in throughout the summer (and school year). 

Q

What community sites partner with the ICSD Pre-K Program?

A

The UPK grant allows us to collaborate with different organizations in the community. We provide quality staff development and training to the following sites:
Contact the Early Childhood/Pre-K Office at (607) 274-2208 if you have any additional questions.