CPS Advice- From the Parent Perspective

Written by: Jay Annadurai

Nobody said navigating school options in the Chicago Public School system was easy!  The good news is that are many great choices for your family! Here are some tips from CPS parents in the know from our last NPN School Search event at Bubbles Academy.

How can you get started with your school search?   

Use the CPS School Locator to find your neighborhood school.  What are your other options? Research magnet, magnet cluster, selective enrollment and open enrollment schools. Download the NPN School Search document for CPS key terms & definitions.  If you are considering Charter Schools, view a list here and apply directly to each school.

What are preschool options in CPS?

Preschool is NOT mandatory- not every CPS school has a program.  Changes are being made to the current CPS Preschool For All (free, 2.5 hr, need-based program). Visit the Early Childhood Education Program page for information. Look for additional information to become available in spring 2013 on the Ready to Learn! Initiatives being considered. Tuition-based preschool options include full and half-day paid programs. The Early Childhood Locator can help you locate nearby options. Remember, preschool admission does not guarantee kindergarten admission.

How do you apply for a school that is not your neighborhood school?

If you plan on attending your neighborhood school, go there to register prior to the first day. Otherwise, visit https://apply.cps.edu and complete the Standard Application the fall before your child will start kindergarten (Child must be 5 by Sept. 1st to start Kindergarten.). Application period is typically Oct. to early December, results mailed in March. To consider a selective enrollment school, use the SEES Application. Your child will then be given a testing date. Results also mailed in March. Waitlists move throughout the summer.

How can parents get involved in their school?

Invest your time and energy! Even before your child starts school- go to Local School Council meetings, talk to parents on the playground, get a group of motivated parents together to continue positive growth. Help with fundraising efforts- “Friends of” groups lead up fundraising efforts and always look for help.

Some other great tips & advice:

  • Consider some “off the radar” schools. You can apply to up to 20 schools (not including SEES options) so consider a wide variety of schools.
  • Remember to consider what works for YOUR family- consider the commute, your family’s educational philosophy, your child’s interests/personality, etc.
  • Invest in your neighborhood school- it builds community, brings together families and creates a great walk-able option in your own ‘hood.
  • Tour as many schools as you can- the best way to get a feel of the school’s culture, dynamics, goals, etc.

Need more help? Visit our NPN Digital Library for podcasts from past School Choice events and read more blogs in our School Daze section. 

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 9:28 AM