Column: Questions, answers on Salem kindergarten registration

In this 2008 file photo, new kindergarten students of Salem’s Horace Mann Laboratory School make their way through the school’s halls to the library where they were read a story by a teacher.

The Salem School Department will hold its annual Kindergarten Information Night on Wednesday, Jan. 28 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Salem High School auditorium, located at 77 Willson St. The snow date for the event is Jan. 29.

Kindergarten Information Night provides information on the registration process and answers questions about the selection process. Children turning 5 years old on or before Aug. 31 are eligible to start kindergarten in September 2015.

Parents will receive a packet containing a kindergarten application and related materials. All application and registration materials are available in Spanish. The information is completed by parents and returned to the Parent Information Center. All elementary students entering the Salem Public Schools are offered several choices among the schools according to the student assignment policy. School assignments are based on the information provided by parents via these materials.

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the registration process:

How do I enroll my child in the Salem Public Schools?

Submit a kindergarten assignment application to the Parent Information Center. Enrollment is a three-step process:

Step 1: Complete all forms in the kindergarten packet including the kindergarten assignment application with your three school preferences;

If you wish to have your child considered for placement in the Bentley Academy lottery, check the “opt in” box on the registration form. The Bentley Academy Charter lottery will be held in mid-March.

Step 2: Upon receipt of your child’s assignment, confirm assignment by sending the confirmation form back to Parent Information Center;

Step 3: Parent and child must attend kindergarten screening.

What is the application deadline?

In order to take advantage of the sibling preference criteria, the application must be submitted by Feb. 20.

Applications received by March 1 will be assigned by May 1;

Applications received after March 1 will be assigned by July 1;

Application received after July 1 will be processed as they arrive.

Assignments will be made on the basis of the information provided on the application. Every effort will be made to assign your child to one of your top choices of school. No assignment application will be processed without the required documents.

What documents do I need to submit with my application?

Proof of address (two of the following documents): Lease or mortgage statement in parent/guardian’s names; current electric, gas, cable, water or telephone bills in parent/guardian’s name.

If you do not have any utilities under your name and you reside with a family member or friend, you need a notarized letter from the person you live with and two utility bills under that person’s name.

Parent’s photo ID;

Household information survey and acknowledgement form;

Proof of child’s age (one of the following documents): Child’s birth certificate (original or certified copy), passport, I-94 card or resident alien card;

Immunization record; and

Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan, if applicable.

How will kindergarten assignments be made?

Students entering Salem Public Schools are assigned according to its student assignment policy. This policy allows parents to have options for requesting the schools their children may attend. Programmatic placements and sibling preference are prioritized.

How will parents be notified?

Parents will be notified by mail of their child’s school assignment by the assignment deadline. Please do not call the Parent Information Center or schools regarding kindergarten assignments before the notification dates.

When is kindergarten screening?

Kindergarten screening will take place in the elementary school the child is assigned to, at the end of June. Parents will be contacted by the schools to set up the appointments.

How do I choose a school for my child?

Kindergarten tours will be held in February for all elementary schools. Parents are encouraged to visit schools to learn more about their programs. Please call the school you would like to visit to set up an appointment.

Will my child be able to ride the school bus?

Transportation will be provided if student meets the distance criteria determined by the School Committee’s transportation policy. For questions regarding transportation, contact the transportation department at 978-740-1138.

What if my child has a medical condition?

If a child has a health condition such as asthma, diabetes, allergy to food or bees, seizure disorder, cystic fibrosis, bleeding disorder or other health issues, contact the nurse at your assigned school to advise her of his/her needs and plan for care. Questions or concerns can be directed to the nurse at the school that your child is assigned to or the director of nurses, Paula Dobrow, at 978-825-5500.

All information provided by the Salem Public Schools Parent Information Center, located in the Collins Middle School at 29 Highland Ave. For more information contact the Parent Information Center at (978) 740-1225. This is one in a monthly series of columns from the Community Advisory Board for the Salem schools.

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