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City touts strong participation in new kindergarten enrollment system

The city is taking an early victory lap over its new kindergarten enrollment system, announcing Friday that “participation in the admissions process hit a record high” this year.

The new “Kindergarten Connect” enrollment system, one of the last big changes rolled out by the Bloomberg-era Department of Education, centralized the kindergarten application process online. The move prompted concerns that parents without Internet access or who aren’t comfortable online would be shut out of the process.

The statistics the city released on Friday seemed designed to refute those claims.

More than 80 percent of parents who filled out a survey after completing the application characterized it as “easy” or “very easy,” according to the city, though spokesman Harry Hartfield said about 3,000 families had filled out that survey. That’s only 6 percent of those who completed the online application.

The new system did offer the option of filling out an application over the phone, which the city says 17 percent of parents did, or in person at a borough enrollment office, which another 13 percent of parents did. The other 70 percent completed the application online.

What the new system took away was the ability for parents to apply in person at individual schools — something some parents said helped them make an important connection. But the city, and many parents, maintained that system was burdensome on parents with limited time to travel around the city at specific times.

Overall, the city says more than 68,000 applications were submitted, meaning that substantially more families applied for kindergarten admission by this point this year than last year. Families can register for kindergarten even if they did not participate in the spring admissions process.

Last month, the city’s charter sector counted Kindergarten Connect as a driver for higher-than-ever early application numbers. The city’s online kindergarten application included a link to the charter sector’s common application but did not actually allow families to apply to charter schools.

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