SALEM — The School Department mailed out registration packets this week to parents of children who will enter kindergarten in the fall.
Although students usually are signed up in January, registration has been delayed for two months while the School Committee has been rewriting the student assignment policy. A new policy is expected to be approved later this month.
For the first time, school kindergarten assignments for 2012-13 will attempt to balance the number of low-income students across the city's seven elementary schools, based on family applications for the federal free and reduced lunch program.
The change was prompted by the low scores on the state MCAS exam at schools with high numbers of low-income students.
Under this new assignment plan, parents will list three school choices in order of preference. Seats will be set aside at each school for kindergarten students who do and do not receive free and reduced lunches.
Lotteries will be held in cases where there are more students than available seats.
In the past, students were enrolled largely on a first-come, first-served basis.
The deadline for submitting registration forms is May 15. The first round of school assignments will be made on June 1. There will be a second round in the summer.
The School Department has posted informational kindergarten videos for each school, in Spanish and English, on its website.