PreSchool Applications open March 2015

March 4, 2015 at 7:39 am 43 comments


I got an email about preschool today. Does this mean the application process is JUST NOW opening up?

I’ve sort of lost track of (or never fully understood) how this all works with the new changes.  Feel free to discuss the process here.
Currently there are nearly 1,500 4-year old children in Chicago who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program, but do not attend at least a half-day of pre-kindergarten.


CPS Opens Enrollment for Over 17,000 Early Learning Seats in School Year 15-16

Chicago: Ready to Learn! Continues to Expand in Third Year, Offering Equitable Access to High-Quality Early Learning Options for Families Citywide

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced today it has opened enrollment for more than 17,000 early childhood education seats for School Year 2015-2016. This is the third year of Chicago: Ready to Learn!, an initiative designed to bring high-quality early learning opportunities to every area of the city. Starting next school year, the program will expand to include 55 additional full-day classrooms serving 1,000 more students in neighborhoods across Chicago.

Parents of children who will be 3- or 4-years old by September 1, 2015 can access school-based early education opportunities by visiting, or one of 24 centralized application sites across the city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel createdChicago: Ready to Learn! in 2013 by bringing CPS and the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) together to manage resources under one early education system. Chicago: Ready to Learn! coordinates early learning programs across the city, expanding access to school- and community-based early learning opportunities while improving the quality of early childhood programs.

“We know that the early years are critical to a child’s future success, which is why we have committed to creating a strong foundation that will benefit our students throughout their entire education,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “With the support of Mayor Emanuel and DFSS, we have expanded access to programming, while increasing program quality, so that all children arrive in Kindergarten ready to learn.”

Since Chicago: Ready to Learn! began, this joint effort has expanded DFSS and CPS’ early learning programs for 5,000 new children, while raising the quality of existing programs for 6,000 children with added wrap-around services, including intensive parent engagement, nursing services, and community partnerships.

Last fall, Mayor Emanuel closed the gap on pre-kindergarten education for 4-year old children in low-income families. Currently there are nearly 1,500 4-year old children in Chicago who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program, but do not attend at least a half-day of pre-kindergarten. Beginning in School Year 2015-2016, CPS will provide pre-k education to these students through capital investments from the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois as well as Social Impact Bonds, supporting programs at neighborhood schools and new community based programs. Since Mayor Emanuel took office in 2011, he has steadily expanded early learning programming through a $36 million investment in the City’s budget.

Research indicates that high-quality early childhood programs boost academic skills, foster independence, and instill a lifelong love of learning. Further, children who attend these high-quality early childhood programs are 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school and earn a 33 percent higher salary on average. In addition to the academic benefits, early childhood programs connect children with wrap-around services like regular medical care, which are proven indicators of better student attendance and academic performance throughout the year.

Applications for CPS school-based early childhood programs can be accessed at, a local elementary school, or in the 24 application sites throughout the city. All applications must be submitted in person at one of the application sites Monday through Friday at scheduled times, or at local elementary schools on designated days. Proof of residency, income and the child’s age will be required with all applications, due no later than May 1, 2015.

Entry filed under: Pre-School. Tags: , , .

Neighborhood / Magnet High School Information Rahm and Chuy and Chicago and CPS

43 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rewing123  |  March 4, 2015 at 9:12 am

    My son will be in preschool for a second year in the fall. Do I need to reapply to keep him in the same school?

  • 2. Chicago School GPS  |  March 4, 2015 at 9:24 am

    @1- if your child is already in an RTL program, you don’t need to reapply, but let them know you are returning. Confirm with your current school as there are some schools, however, that may need classroom space for growing K populations and may no longer have room for preschool this Fall. It tends to happen as school populations grow and space is limited. Some schools that offered both Tuition Based PK and RTL have pared down one or the other in the recent past.

    We have an upcoming seminar regarding public and private PK on March 25 @ 6:30PM, so join us if you want to learn about many types of options:
    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.

  • 3. donewiththat  |  March 4, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Yes, it is JUST NOW opening. Crazy.

  • 4. figuringitout  |  March 4, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Does anyone have a sense of whether it makes any difference if you apply sooner than later for the Ready to Learn preschool options? does applying earlier give you a better shot of getting in?

  • 5. Ten  |  March 4, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    My child had IEP program and started preschool 3 month ago. I don’t like her school. Can I re-enroll to another school for her?

  • 6. feeder schools  |  March 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Last year, there was a second round application in summer, after first round results came out. Better early than late if you want to pick a particular school.

  • 7. feeder schools  |  March 4, 2015 at 4:20 pm


    You will have to go through the application process. Public PreK is not a residents’ “right” as K and the grades are.

  • 8. LaSalle II Preschool  |  March 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    LaSalle II will have an open house on March 31, 2015. RTL will be at LaSalle II to accept applications on April 1, 2015 from 8:00 – 11:00 AM. LaSalle II has two inclusive preschool programs.

  • 9. Jessica Zgobis  |  March 5, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I’m confused because you used to be able to pick a site; now it does not appear this way for 2015-16. How can a site be selected?

  • 10. Chicago School GPS  |  March 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    The actual application itself this year is telling in that it starts with info on your child, then detailed info on Guardian #1, then a line for Guardian #2, and any site info is reserved “for office use only”.

    Essentially, CPS wants the parent to come into a registration site where the staff will fill out the rest, based upon what you tell them are your preferences or maybe some suggestions they provide.

  • 11. teacher/mom  |  March 26, 2015 at 11:45 am

    “Starting next school year, the program will expand to include 55 additional full-day classrooms serving 1,000 more students in neighborhoods across Chicago.”

    How do you find out what these 55 sites are? Or even what sites currently have full-day preK? I see some schools listed as having full-day options next year, but have heard of other schools having full-day programs which are not listed. Is there a list anywhere? I wish I had seen this post yesterday; I would have gone to the Chicago School GPS info session.

  • 12. Kenwood Parent  |  March 29, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    A lot of these schools state on their cps webpage that the magnet deadline for preK was December 12th. What’s the actual deadline?

  • 13. teacher/mom  |  March 30, 2015 at 8:39 am


    There are several different preK programs. The magnet schools had a Dec. 12 deadline along with all other magnet lotteries. Tuition-based programs have on-site enrollment. I think most of those are also already filled. Ready to Learn is the half-day (possibly full-day at some sites?) sliding scale program. Applications are currently being taken. There is a rolling-deadline application process that extends into the school year as long as seats are open.

  • 14. Kenwood Parent  |  April 3, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Thanks teacher/mom. It seems that very few full day programs are actually open for registration, even though cps lists them (e.g., Mayer). I appears that many of the schools listed require winning a lottery space. This registration period seems to be directed to half-day programs and schools with low ratings. I think I focused too much on the selective enrollment process, and neglected to understand the pre-K process. Looks like we’ll be paying (a lot) for school for an additional year.

  • 15. Kate  |  April 12, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    A friend told me that attending the Pre-K of a desired school for Kindergarten gives you a better chance of getting into that school by lottery. Is this true? If so, at which kinds of CPS schools?

  • 16. momofmany  |  April 13, 2015 at 9:39 am

    @15, no not true.

  • 17. far northsider  |  April 13, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Kate – That used to be true at some schools before applications were centralized through OAE (five or six years ago, I think); not anymore, though.

  • 18. Pomegranate  |  May 11, 2015 at 5:05 am

    Mayer, Drummond, Suder, and Inter-American (preK 4 only) are the schools with pre-school lotteries because their starting year is preK. All other pre-school programs are city-wide enrollment through the Ready to Learn program. At some up-and-coming schools, knowing staff will nudge up your wait list position. This does not happen at any of the highly-sought-after schools which are being much more closely monitored. Either way, all kids in preK at any school except the four listed earlier will have to reapply for kindergarten based on attendance boundaries or lottery.

  • 19. trishaj  |  May 20, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Does anyone have any insight/reviews on Chappell’s or Ravenswood 1/2 day preschool program and if they have any openings for 2015-2016 period? I’m new to this whole CPS process and trying to go thru the website to understand, but looking for personal experiences if anyone has any insight. thanks!

  • 20. Melissa  |  June 1, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    When are the decision letters supposed to go out?

  • 21. Chicago School GPS  |  June 1, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    The first round letters are supposed to be sent by May 29th with decisions due back by June 19, but I am hard-pressed to find where I saw that. There is another round that will open up starting July 6 and info is here:

  • 22. chefkim  |  June 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Letters were mailed on friday – got our today. It does say you have to inform the school no later than June 19.

  • 23. Abstay  |  June 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Does anyone know if the Ready to Learn waitlists move? We got a spot at Agassiz that we’ll likely refuse, it’s too far from our home. Are waitlisted at Blaine – 2 and Nettelhorst – 8.
    Do I have any chance of getting a spot at Nettelhorst?

  • 24. teacher/mom  |  June 1, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    We got calls from both our wait list schools last year, but ours weren’t as sought after as Nettlehorst.

  • 25. Lsquaremama  |  June 1, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    We got our RTL letter today as well. Anyone have any insight into Chappell preschool?

  • 26. MB60630  |  June 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Hi – I was wait listed at my neighborhood school (Hitch, where my older son goes) and turned down a spot at Stock (too crazy to juggle two kids in two places plus work.) Does anyone know when wait list calls typically start happening?

  • 27. llmm  |  July 20, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Passing on from a Goethe Parent:

    Please help us spread the word!
    We have openings in our preschool programs for next year.
    Feel free to pass on my contact information to families that have questions or need more information.
    Many thanks for your help in getting this information out to families that are interested.
    Gabrielle Goodstein

  • 28. Ready to Learn!  |  July 20, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Apply now for Chicago: Ready to Learn!, the District’s school-based early childhood education program. Birth to Pre-K Programs.
    Applications are being accepted now and throughout the start of the school year.
    Details at

  • 29. Maddie  |  September 27, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    I just moved to Chicago. Is there still a chance I could get my son into Pre-k or is the deadline over? Thanks.

  • 30. Teachermom  |  September 27, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    You can definitely still get on somewhere although a lot of the schols will have waiting lists. When you go to apply, they can tell you which schools have seats open.

    The link below has instructions on how to apply.

  • 31. cpsobsessed  |  September 27, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    This late into the year, many parents are reluctant to switch their child’s schools so they may go through the remaining lists pretty quickly. I’d start by contacting schools near you of interest to see if they have spots.

  • 32. Yvette Torres  |  February 13, 2016 at 9:03 am

    My son is an IEP student for speech. I have all papers ready and just waiting for him to turn 3 on February 21. Once he turns 3 do I just go to my local cps school and register him for pre-k? What if they tell me there is no more space for him to attend and has to wait until September? As well say there is a wait list. Do IEPs get automatically accepted a spot in pre-k? Who can I contact if having trouble of him starting school? I heard he has the right to start school right away.

  • 33. akt  |  April 4, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Is there a preschool thread for this year, 2016? I’ve been so worried about my Kindergartener’s plans next year I forgot to look into pre-K for my 3-year-old. Also, did the prices get wayyyy cheaper or am I using the calculator wrong?

  • 34. Tamekia Marshall  |  July 12, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    I would to apply for preschool for my son school year 2017-2018. He will be three on March 6, 2017

  • 35. Takisha pettis  |  September 5, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    My daughter will b 3 on September 8th n i think its totally unfair for her to sit out of school. She is so ready to go she is potty trained knows how to count to 20 n knows her colors n etc. I dont work so i havent found a program to enroll her in . Please help my daughter is ready.

  • 36. Chicago School GPS  |  October 23, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    All your Chicago Preschool questions answered at our upcoming Chicago Preschool Primer on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 1-2:30pm at Bennett Day School.

    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?

    Public & Private Chicago Preschool Primer
    Saturday, November 5, 2016 @ 1PM-2:30PM
    Bennett Day School (new campus)
    955 W. Grand Ave, Chicago
    Register Now!
    $20/family via pre-registration ($10/more at the door)
    Convenient street parking available.

    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.

  • 37. Minakow99  |  June 19, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Hi, I am looking for some information regarding the pre-k program at Blaine. Where can I find the best resource?

  • 38. Jamie Tapia  |  December 13, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Hello, I just received an acceptance email for my oldest for Blaine’s Pre-K program next fall as a 4 year old (2018-2019 school year). Is this a sought after program and hard to get into? Will he get preference when we lottery for a Blaine kindergarten spot in the 2019-2020? If so, how do I get my youngest, who will be 3, in as well? won’t let me even let me register him for applications because he won’t turn 3 until April of next year (it rejects my registration when I enter his age). We are just over the border in the Brenneman district which I heard is awful, so we currently have my oldest at a private full day Catholic pre-k down the street from us; would it be worth it to pull him for a Blaine 3 hour Pre-K next year?? It’ll be nearly impossible as a working parent for me to somehow manage him only going for a few hours everyday…but if it helps get him into Blaine’s kindergarten, I would definitely find a way.

  • 39. LSmom  |  December 14, 2017 at 7:29 am

    @Jamie, I’ve heard good things about Blaine’s pre-K, but there’s no preference for kindergarten. I don’t think they typically have many lottery slots, but there are plenty of solid neighborhood schools that do let in many students from outside the neighborhood.

  • 40. Jamie Tapia  |  December 14, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Thanks @ LSmom, I finally found that info on the prek page last night. If my kid doesn’t get preference for a kindergarten spot, then we will keep him at his current private preK, saving us a bundle …I’ll take a break from this stress until the spring of 2019 when I start his kindergarten testing and lottery process (insert eye roll)
    @ Minakow99 did you find your needed info? I’ve talked to the lady admin over at Blaine the past few days and she was very helpful to me about the Prek program over there.

  • 41. Reno-Neub  |  December 14, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Hi Jamie! My son is actually currently enrolled in Pre-K at Blaine! He loves it and he is learning a lot. One thing that kind of threw me off is the sliding copay. We were never notified that there would be a copay for prek for him and the first week of school, I got an email saying we would have to pay around $7k for the whole school year. If I had known that in advance, I’m not sure if I would even send him there! I had already enrolled him in a montessori catholic school by us and it was 3 days a week and full days.

    Also, there’s no anything for Kindergarten for the lottery if you don’t live in the neighborhood. My younger one is going to be 3 next August and I applied him to the Oscar Mayer prek (montessori) that’s our neighborhood school so it’s likely he will get in. But then, I don’t know what to do about our older one! haha! the problems we face living in the city with schools…

  • 42. Reno-Neub  |  December 14, 2017 at 10:30 am

    BTW, this is MinakoW99. WordPress decided to use my wordpress account name….

  • 43. Jamie Tapia  |  December 14, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    @MinakoW99 (Reno-Neub) – We pay $4k for a 6 hour day/full week at a prek in a Catholic elementary a 1/2 block away from us wow…

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