CPS PreK Application Time 2014 (for school year 2014/15)

March 2, 2014 at 4:25 pm 49 comments


Thanks for the alert that the PreK application period is now open for the half-day programs.

These programs are free or fee-based, depending on your household income.

You can apply to any of the programs as not every school has a PreK program.

I am still a little unclear on the selection process.  Is it still uber-difficult to get in, now that it’s not free for everyone?  Are schools giving priority to neighborhood kids?


Chicago: Ready to Learn! Applications will be accepted for School Year 2014-2015 from March 3, 2014 – April 11, 2014.

To apply, please visit one of our centralized application sites.

If you are applying for a child who has a sibling already in a Chicago: Ready to Learn! program, and this sibling will be at the same school next year, the new applicant can apply under the sibling priority. Please see below for instructions.

Here are some of the key questions from the site below.

Any feedback on the programs this year?  For those who chose to send their child and pay the full rate, what are your thoughts on this?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I apply?

A. You may apply to a Chicago: Ready to Learn! program in person at an authorized application site or an authorized application event. For a list of these events, please call 312-229-1690. Paper applications will be available at the application sites or can be downloaded beforehand. Please note that income, residency, and proof of birth documents are required for all application submissions.

. What factors are taken into consideration when placing my child?

A. The Chicago: Ready to Learn! program takes a variety of factors into consideration when placing a child, such as a family’s income, a child’s age, housing type, sibling status, and other factors. For a comprehensive list of entrance priorities, please visit our programs section.

If my child was on the waiting list for the 2013-14 School Year, do I have to re-apply? Why?

A. Each year, all students are given equal opportunity to apply for seats at the upcoming grade level to which they are entering. Students who were placed on a waitlist for the 2013-2014 School Year must re-apply for entrance into a Chicago: Ready to Learn! program for 2014-2015. If your child is on a waitlist for this current school year, and you would like to find out more information about this or to check the status of availability for schools this year, contact 773-553-2010.

Do I need an appointment to apply at one of the application sites?

A. No, you do not need an appointment to apply at one of the application sites. Please visit our how to apply section for a listing of sites and hours of operation.

Entry filed under: Pre-School.

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49 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chicago School GPS  |  March 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    CPS revamped their PreK website, although I’m not sure it’s any less confusing than before. The main thing to remember is that Ready to Learn programs have centralized application sites with schools only enrolling on a limited, pre-scheduled basis and have a set open and close date for applying. Tuition based PK programs are done at each of the 14 school sites, on a first come, first serve basis.

    Their updated PK program finder (Chicago Early Learning) is pretty handy, however. It allows families to search by area or even criteria (half or full day, full year or school year, full week or part week, etc) http://chicagoearlylearning.org/

  • 2. Stacey  |  March 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Any info on when the Montessori pre-k lottery will be completed and letters out?

  • 3. Chicago School GPS  |  March 2, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    CPSOAE handles the admissions process for Mayer, Suder, Drummond (and Inter-American). Notification letters go out on March 21 and will state whether you have a spot or whether you are on a wait list (for 3 year olds, there is a proximity wait list and one for each tier, as well as a sibling list if there are not enough spots to accommodate siblings). Good luck!

  • 4. Another LaSalle II Mom  |  March 11, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Just saw this on the LaSalle II web site, “On Saturday, March 29th at 11am we will hold an Open House for prospective PreK families and for families accepted through the lottery for 2014-2015.”

  • 5. Cliff  |  March 12, 2014 at 10:26 am


    I think Mayer is different than Drummond and Suder, right? My understanding is Mayer has no proximity or tier lotteries. Rather, they have sibling and attendance-area lotteries (a/a siblings, non-a/a sibling, a/a non-siblings, non-a/a non-siblings). So your wait-list number will be a/a or non-a/a, rather than tier, correct?

  • 6. Chicago School GPS  |  March 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

    @5- Yes, while you apply for Mayer’s PK Montessori program for 3s and 4s with a standard magnet application, their selection is slightly different as you stated with priorities as follows:
    1) Attendance area siblings
    2) Non-attendance area siblings
    3) Attendance area non-siblings
    4) Non-attendance area non-siblings
    This policy was subject to review this year per their website: http://mayermagnet.org/about/admissions/

    Typical Montessori programs do try to balance the number of 3s, 4s, and 5s in a classroom, so they have about 10 of each age group for a 30 student classroom. When filling 10 spots per classroom, that doesn’t leave many spots open and thus the wait lists are so high.

    If you live within Mayer’s boundaries and didn’t get in for PK, you are guaranteed a spot at K.

  • 7. alcott preK  |  March 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Beginning this school year, any students attending the Alcott Pre-K will be projected into Alcott’s Kindergarten for next school year. This new policy has been recently approved by CPS to allow all of our preK parents the option of keeping their children at Alcott for Kindergarten and the following grade levels.

  • 8. prek curious  |  March 14, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    alcott prek: that is completely opposite of what CPS said last year about our neighborhood school, regarding out of district Preks (they were not guaranteed a spot at the school unless they were in boundary). Has something changed> Is this just for Alcott? And if so why?

  • 9. Jill  |  March 14, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    so to clarify – the tuition based pre-ks are first come first serve? So at this point is the only option the half day “ready to learn”?

  • 10. Chicago School GPS  |  March 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    @9- Actually there are some TBPKs with openings still as they don’t always fill up until after the March elementary letters come out which is typically the 3rd week of March. At that time, families find out if they are in schools such as Disney Magnet, which they then sign up their preschooler at the TBPK to have them both in the same building. Some very popular and smaller programs like Disney II, Ogden, South Loop or Skinner West tend to fill up faster, however.

  • 11. JD  |  March 20, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    #7 post does not make any sense.

    What “new policy” specifically is referenced?

    Parents of any PreK program anywhere in the city are not entitled to be enrolled as Kg by virtue of having participated in the PreK program.

    Residency within a school’s attendance area provides an entitlement to enroll, nothing else.

  • 12. S  |  March 20, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Regarding Alcott, they have been making a push to make this policy. In prior years, all Pre-K students received a spot in K. Last year was an “exception” to their norm. We attended the tuition based Pre-K and did not get a spot in K until our # was reached on the lottery list. The principal was not happy with the policy – at least, that’s what he told us…

  • 13. oks  |  March 28, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I have posted this elsewhere, but if you are still figuring out which schools to apply to, Solomon’s Pre-K is excellent. It is a small school on the NW side with a very dedicated and creative teacher and a very diverse group of students.

  • 14. Mom of 2  |  April 1, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    OMG, I’m on my second child in CPS and it’s still so confusing! Could please someone share the list of schools (or where I can find this list) where I can apply for preK for the Ready to Learn program? We didn’t get to Ogden TBPS and lotter # for the Mayer Montessori is way too high, are there any Ready to Learn options around Lincoln Park area?

  • 15. James  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Anyone know where to find the school codes for the Pre-K Ready to Learn application for CPS?
    Thanks for any help…

  • 16. a mile too far?  |  April 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    @ 15: I applied for my son yesterday at a designated site. The school codes used were different from the regular CPS codes that you might find with some Googling. So, don’t worry about them. Just go to a site with your pre-K selections in mind (up to 3) and let the staff look for the codes in their folder.

    To you all, what’s the longest distance you would travel from home daily for pre-K?

  • 17. Jen K  |  April 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    @14 – http://www.chicagoearlylearning.org supposedly will allow you to search by geographic area: http://chicagoearlylearning.org

    However…this being cps, I had to try it out. I used my zip and came up with 7-8 schools, none of which were the school 2 blocks from me where my child attended (what is now) Ready to Learn PreK :-). I would suggest doing multiple searches using different criteria.

  • 18. Tamara L. Davis  |  April 10, 2014 at 10:40 am

    The Herzl Child Parent Center in North Lawndale offers FREE FULL-DAY programming. Its top-notch program has achieved renowned success, and spots are filling up. Apply Now!

  • 19. Diane  |  May 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I am new to this, God help me. I saw on the CPS website that the are accepting pre k applications (in person) May 27th thru June 27th for kids starting THIS fall (2014)??? I thought the application deadlines were last fall for this year? I am so confused I could cry. My son will be 3 in August. I know we don’t have a snowball’s chance but if it’s still possible, I might as well get a lottery ticket.

  • 20. oks  |  May 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

    You have more than a snowball’s chance! Apply!

  • 21. Chicago School GPS  |  May 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    The PreK applications that are being accepted until June 27 are only for the Ready to Learn 2.5 hour per day programs. These are a great way for a child to gain school readiness skills and are often held in CPS schools with music, art, gym, etc from the school’s teachers, but these programs do NOT feed directly into a school’s K-8th grade programs.

    This is the 2nd year of the new Ready to Learn central application system and it is still fraught with confusion, hence I think the reason for the extension. I know families waiting to hear their placements and thought it would come soon after the original April deadline, but now are shocked to hear they need to wait until July to learn their placements.

  • 22. Diane  |  May 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    So there is no chance of getting into a full day pre k program and this point? Thank you all for these awesome fast responses. This board comforts me almost as much as the fertilty boards used to 😉

  • 23. Chicago School GPS  |  May 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    The full day Tuition Based PK programs may have space. There are only 13 CPS TBPK sites which can be found on the last page of this doc: http://cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/TuitionBased_Handbook.pdf
    Many do fill up right after the spring notifications for elementary school comes out, but not always! Call ones you are interested in to check availability.

  • 24. Even One More CPS Mom  |  May 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Diane – I read somewhere that McPherson is adding a new TBPK program. Very recent news……If you are nearby call them.

  • 25. confused  |  May 4, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    @ 21:

    When I applied, May 8th was promised as the notification date. You seemed to indicate that the April round results wouldn’t be known before the second round applications are in. Is this insider knowledge or your guess? Thanks for any clarification.

  • 26. Diane  |  May 4, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    So tbpk is 12k for the school year or the 2 to 3 hour program

  • 27. Diane  |  May 4, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    I didn’t finish…the choices are 12k for full day school days only or $400 a month forbthe 2 to 3 hr program?

  • 28. confused  |  May 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I think the 2.5-hour programs are capped at $450 a month depending on household income.

  • 29. Chicago School GPS  |  May 5, 2014 at 6:39 am

    @confused- I should have said “may” not find out until possibly July because I don’t know for sure. I heard about the delay during a preschool tour and the administrator did not know when notifications were going to be sent in light of that. I am hoping CPS treats it like a second round and lets some folks know before July, because that’s just so late. Call the Ready to Learn Hotline at 312.229.1690. They are typically very helpful.

    @Diane- the TBPK program is $12,220 for 2014-2015 and the RTL is on a sliding scale based on proof of income, from $0-$427/month or so. Both of these tuitions only cover the CPS school calendar (no coverage over winter/spring break or summer).

    Good to hear about the addition of a TBPK at McPherson, and I heard that Ravenswood will lose one TBPK classroom due to their growing neighborhood program (they will just have one instead of two).

  • 30. oks  |  May 5, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I just got word from my daughter’s Pre-K teacher that “Preschool placement letters should come out by the end of the week.”

  • 31. Even One More CPS Mom  |  May 5, 2014 at 9:04 am

    I found the information regarding the new TBPK program at McPherson in my April 24 Everyblock newsletter. If interested, please see the post from Everyblock below.

    “McPherson School, Lincoln Square’s neighborhood school, now plans to offer Tuition Based Preschool for the 2014-2015 school year. Please join us! The school is actively recruiting area families to be a part of the program, which will be play-based and focus on literacy, math, social studies, science and social-emotional learning.

    If you are interested in the program or have questions, please feel free to contact me (kim@friendsofmcpherson.com). I am a current parent and member of Friends of McPherson.

    If you are interested in seeing the inside of the school, the next tour will take place Friday, April 25 at 9:30 and there are also tours scheduled for the same time on May 9 and May 30. If these tours do not work for your schedule, we can make other arrangements. Feel free to email Marianne Turk (mturk@cps.edu) to participate in an upcoming school tour.”

  • 32. Diya  |  May 8, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Just called the Ready to Learn Hotline and was told that letters went out today. So those that applied prior to the April 11th deadline should hear something in the next few days.

  • 33. once confused  |  May 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    My son’s notification letter has just arrived. Offered a spot at the first choice school, which is a block away from our home, and waitlisted #4 and #9 at two others. They are all 2.5-hour programs.

  • 34. Daniel Hart (@Dhart27)  |  May 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    My 3 year old got a spot at aggasiz. What is Occupational therapy like through cps? my dd gets that and speech through EI. Thanks!

  • 35. Caring mom  |  May 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    My 3 yr old son was offered a spot at Blaine for RTL and waitlisted for the other 2 schools.

  • 36. anonymouse teacher  |  May 9, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    @34, OT and its quality will depend highly on the person delivering the minutes, if there is a dedicated space for therapy(meaning, not in the hallway) how many minutes your son’s IEP indicates and if the minutes are actually delivered. I don’t think Agassiz has a big overcrowding issue, so hopefully the clinicians have at least a room to share when providing therapies.

  • 37. mamacap  |  May 9, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Hi guys. I’ve never posted anything on here, but this site has been very helpful. Thank you very much for the insight! I just had a question. We applied for preK at Healy on March 21st and have been accepted as of today. At that time, my husband was making around $20k/year. We are a three person family. However, he got promoted this week and will be making $36k/year (yay!). The acceptance form didn’t mention anything, but I’m assuming we qualified for free tuition at that time. Do we still? Should I inform the school that our income has changed? How do I do that? I have no problem paying tuition, there are many, many people who have it harder than we do. We have received so much support from the community over the last couple of years and I’m very excited to be able to give back.

  • 38. NW side parent  |  May 11, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    does anyone know anything about the Belmont Cragin preK program? A friend was just offered a spot and is trying to learn more.

  • 39. Mvdiaz  |  May 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    My son got a spot at Blaine and we were waitlisted at Audobon and Coonley, which is fine since Blaine was our first choice. WHEW!!!

  • 40. Pre-k mom  |  May 21, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Does anyone know if we commit to a Ready to Learn program now, if we are financially committed for the entire year? I ask this because we are on wait lists from our Options for Knowledge application and still hoping we can get a spot at Drummond. I’ve heard that spots start opening up around August as families make final decisions for school.

  • 41. sandie  |  May 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    For the 2014/2015 school year dont go to walt disney magnet school there are better schools. If the principal continues there she only cares about money filling her pockets!!!!

  • 42. sandie  |  May 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Sorry 2015/2016

  • 43. Jen K  |  May 23, 2014 at 7:16 am

    @40 I would call the ready to learn people at cps for answer to that.

  • 44. Chicago School GPS  |  June 2, 2014 at 12:10 pm

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  • 45. Jennifer  |  June 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Just completed my PRe-K application and the school I wanted my son to attend where my other children attend, he was waitlisted to #12 does that mean anything? Does he have a shot? It seems like all the MIdway area schools are wait-listed

  • 46. LSmom  |  June 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    @Jennifer, I think you have a very good chance. The preschool wait lists tend to move, especially now that CPS is charging tuition.

  • 47. Jennifer  |  July 30, 2014 at 9:09 am

    SOn was waitlisted I am Jennifer…CPS told me he was #12 for Dore and he actually was #46 why would they tell me that?

  • 48. Jennifer  |  August 20, 2014 at 8:57 am

    This Jennifer. My son is going to a Catholic School near the Dore area. I was told by someone that they only took low income kids NOT FROM DORE’s Attendence area for Pre K. WTF is the purpose of a PUBLIC SCHOOL than?

  • 49. Chicago School GPS  |  October 15, 2014 at 11:01 am

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    Geared to New & Expectant Parents (and anyone interested) who want to learn:
    When should I start my preschool search?
    What should I look for in a preschool?
    What are the various types of preschools available?
    How do I determine “school fit” for a 2 year old?
    When should I think about making a change?
    What’s the difference between public and private preK?
    How do I best prepare my child for preschool?
    Q&A session
    Join Chicago School GPS as we help you navigate your first school search. We can help you get started on the right path to maximize success on your family’s school journey.

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