DC families face an abundance of options when it comes to choosing a school for their children. This year, new school boundaries and a pilot program affecting three-year-olds in Southwest and Navy Yard mean that changes may apply to families interested in sending their children to the neighborhood public school.

Under Mayor Vincent Gray, school boundaries were re-drawn throughout the city, and with the re-opening of Van Ness Elementary School at 1150 5th St. SE in August 2015, with seats for Pre-K through kindergarten, a number of children who reside in Southwest will now be within the boundary for Van Ness instead of Amidon-Bowen. The new boundary assignments can be found by plugging your address into the My School DC website at www.myschooldc.org.

Citywide, any child who turns three before Sept. 30, 2015, is eligible for a spot in a pre-kindergarten program at any school in the city that offers it. However, due to excess demand and insufficient seats, every family must enter the common online lottery at My School DC in order to establish their eligibility and may rank up to 12 District public and public charter schools in order of preference. The My School DC algorithm then seeks to match each child with a school that best meets their preferences, giving priority to the school that is most preferred by the family, closest to their home, or where they have another child enrolled.

This year, in a boon to parents seeking predictability and proximity, a pilot program at Amidon-Bowen and Van Ness, along with several other schools across the District, will guarantee a spot at the school for any three-year-old who lives in the school’s boundary and whose parents have listed the school among their choices. Parents have until March 2, 2015, after which the pre-K slots are no longer guaranteed, to submit their My School DC common application and the lottery results will be announced on March 27.

If a family ranks other DC public or public charter schools higher than Amidon-Bowen or Van Ness, the MySchool DC algorithm will take that ranking into consideration as it seeks to optimize the family’s preferences. However, if a child is not matched with a higher ranked school, he or she will be waitlisted at the higher ranked school(s) and still guaranteed a spot at Amidon-Bowen or Van Ness (depending on their residence). In order to claim that seat, however, families must enroll their children by proving their residency and providing birth and other health certificates by the May 1 deadline.

Amidon-Bowen will continue hosting open houses on the third Monday of each month from 9 to 11 am and all families interested in observing classes, meeting teachers, and touring the school are invited to participate. If the third Monday falls on a holiday, the open house will take place on the following Wednesday.

The next open houses will take place Feb. 18 (Wednesday), March 16, and April 20.

By: Lucy Rojansky

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