A guide to prekindergarten in Albany
step is more important in your child's education than the first one.
the City School District of Albany offers more than
1,000 full-day prekindergarten seats in
all 12 elementary schools, in its
bilingual Dual-Language Program and
at several community agencies.
The district offers prekindergarten programs to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds.
Each program is enrolled through a lottery designed to provide access to
all Albany children.
On Jan. 28, you will able to download an
application for the lottery
for 4-year-olds. You also can pick up
an application at Central Registration, located at 75 Watervliet Ave.,
or any of our elementary schools or community-based partners.
The deadline to submit applications for the pre-K lottery for
4-year-olds is Friday, March 1. The pre-K lottery for 4-year-olds is
Wednesday, March 13.
If you have questions please contact our
Office of Early Childhood at (518) 475-6591.
for 4-year-olds will be located in all district elementary schools and
at community agencies throughout the city.
A lottery will be held on May 9 to fill spots for 3-year-olds;
applications for it will be available April 8. Pre-K programs
for 3-year-olds are located at community agencies.
Please note that to be eligible for a Head Start prekindergarten
program, your family must meet certain income requirements. For more
information, call (518) 463-3175, ext. 137.
Prekindergarteners are enrolled through a lottery designed to provide
access for all Albany children. You must enter your child into the
lottery to get a seat in the program of your choice. The district will
the 2019-20 lottery for 4-year-olds on March 13 and the lottery for 3-year-olds on
A child must be 3 by Dec.
1, 2019 in order to qualify for a 3-year-old's spot and 4 by Dec. 1,
2019 to qualify for a 4-year-old's spot during the 2019-20
school year. Classes have a maximum of 18 children to make sure each
child gets the individual attention that makes the prekindergarten
For more information
about what you need to register your child,
visit our Required
Documents section. You also can call Central Registration at
(518) 475-6125 between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
does not provide bus transportation to any prekindergarten
How does the prekindergarten lottery work?
enter your child into the lottery to get a seat in the program of your
choice. The lottery is conducted by an independent national firm to
assure fairness and impartiality.
On the lottery application, you
will be asked to select your first, second, third and fourth
choices. Student selection is random for 4-year old prekindergarten
programs, but certain factors take
priority when determining where your child will be enrolled:
with a brother or sister already in elementary school will have a
better chance of getting into a prekindergarten class at that
school. This is called "sibling preference." Prekindergarteners with
sibling preference are drawn first in the prekindergarten lottery.
Sibling preference works only if your first-choice prekindergarten
program is located at the elementary school your other child current
attends AND will attend in 2019-20. There is no sibling preference
for community pre-K programs.
A child who lives within his or her
neighborhood elementary school enrollment zone or within a half mile
of a magnet/themed program will have a better chance of getting into
a prekindergarten class at that school. This is called "neighborhood
preference." (Not sure of your neighborhood elementary school?
Click here for a
searchable list or call (518) 475-6125.) Prekindergarteners with
neighborhood preference are drawn second in the prekindergarten
lottery. Neighborhood preference works only if your first-choice
prekindergarten program is located in your neighborhood school
enrollment zone or a half-mile from your home for a magnet/themed
Number of applicants versus number of seats.
Some programs are in greater demand than
others, meaning more families apply to those programs. Also, these
limited seats often fill quickly with students who have sibling or
neighborhood preference (see above). Programs that
historically have more applicants than spots available are Albany
School of Humanities (ASH), the Dual Language Program at Delaware
Community School, the Jewish Community Center, Montessori Magnet
School and New Scotland Elementary School.
Scroll down to see answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
After the lottery
lottery seats are assigned, the district will mail or email you one of three
letters: an acceptance letter, a waiting-list letter or a waiting-pool
If your child receives an acceptance letter
You must accept that seat AND register your child
Registration, 75 Watervliet Ave. If you do not register your child by
the deadline indicated in the letter, your child's spot will be given to
another child. Please visit the Student
Registration section to see the documents needed for registration.
If your child receives a waiting-list letter or a waiting-pool
If you applied for but were not assigned a spot in one of our
neighborhood elementary schools, the Dual Language Program at Delaware
Community School or a community program, you will receive a
waiting-list letter and email. That means your
child's name will be placed on a waiting list that is
created after the lottery. Families will receive a waiting list number and be
offered the opportunity to choose from another prekindergarten program
that has available seats. Applications received after March 1 will be
placed on the waiting list in the order they were received and without
sibling or neighborhood preference consideration.
If you applied for a spot in one of the district's
magnet schools -- Albany
School of Humanities (ASH), Montessori Magnet School or Thomas O'Brien Academy of
Science and Technology (TOAST) -- your child's name will be placed in a
waiting pool and will be eligible for monthly drawings
through December based on available seats. This process allows families to enroll in
another district prekindergarten class and still have a chance of
obtaining a seat in one of the magnet schools. The waiting pool is
"weighted," meaning that a child with a sibling and/or neighborhood
preference will have priority over other children. A monthly lottery
will select students from the waiting pool every month through May. All other students
are weighted equally regardless of when they apply throughout the year,
meaning there will be no sibling or neighborhood preference in the
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my child receive transportation to or from prekindergarten?
A: No. Families are responsible for transporting their child to and from
Q: If my child is assigned a prekindergarten spot at a particular
elementary school, can he or she attend school there next year and
beyond?A: It depends. If your child is assigned a seat at a
magnet school, he or she can attend through fifth or sixth grade,
depending on the school. Otherwise, children automatically are enrolled
for kindergarten in their neighborhood school.
Q: What are my chances of getting my first choice?
A: Your chances of getting your first choice depend on a number of
• The number of seats in a program available versus how many families
select that program as a first choice
• The number of first-choice applicants that have sibling preference at
that school (see below to
learn more about sibling preference)
• The number of first-choice applicants that have neighborhood
preference at that school (see
below to learn more about neighborhood preference)
Q: What happens if I don’t get a seat at any of my choices and
there are open seats at other sites?
A: You will receive a waiting list letter or a waiting pool letter
depending on your first-choice program. That letter will include a date
that you can register for programs with available seats and no waiting.
Q: What is sibling preference?
A: A child with a brother or sister already in a neighborhood or magnet
school/program will have a better chance of getting into a
prekindergarten class at that school. This is called "sibling
Prekindergarteners with sibling preference are drawn first in the
Sibling preference works only if your first choice prekindergarten
program is located at the elementary school your other child currently
attends AND will attend in 2019-20. Sibling preference will not apply if
your child currently at the elementary school moves up to middle school
There is no sibling preference for
community-based prekindergarten programs.
Q: What is neighborhood preference?
A: A child who lives within his or her neighborhood elementary school
enrollment zone or within a half-mile of a magnet school will have a
better chance of getting into a prekindergarten class at that school
This is called "neighborhood preference." (Not sure of your neighborhood
Prekindergarteners with neighborhood preference are drawn second in the
Neighborhood preference works only if your first-choice prekindergarten
program is located in your neighborhood school enrollment zone or a
half-mile from your home for a magnet school.
Q: If one of my children gets a seat but the other doesn’t, do I
now have sibling preference?
A: It depends. If one child gets assigned to a magnet/themed program,
the other child will have sibling preference in the waiting pool once
you accept the seat for and register the first child. Your child will
not have sibling preference if you applied to a neighborhood elementary
school or community program and were assigned to a waiting list.
Q: How are twins and other siblings handled in the lottery?
A: You can choose how you want the district to process the lottery
applications for two or more siblings (twins, triplets or children of
different ages). You have two options:
1) Link your children's applications and
have them move through the lottery. Your children with linked
applications will be assigned to a school or program only if they all
receive spots. If a school or program does not have enough room for all
your children, then none of them will be assigned there.
2) Do not link your children's applications
together. Your children's applications will move through the
lottery process separately, which could result in them being assigned to
different schools or programs. If you opt to not link
your children's applications,
each will go through the lottery and be assigned individually. In that
case, it's possible that your children will not be assigned to the
same school or program. However, you can accept a spot i the school or
program one of your children gets into, and your other child's or
children's application(s) will have sibling preference.
Q: What are my chances of getting a neighborhood preference or
sibling preference school if I do not put it as my first choice?
A: Sibling preference and neighborhood preference only apply to your
first choice. They do not apply to your other choices.
Q: Can I remain in the waiting pool for a magnet school and
accept a seat in neighborhood or community-based prekindergarten
Q: Can I be in a waiting pool for more than one magnet school?
A: Yes, but only if you have not been accepted into any prekindergarten
program and two or more of your preferred programs are at magnet
Q: Can I be on a waiting list for more than one neighborhood or
community-based prekindergarten program?