What To Expect When You're Expecting (to send your child to CPS)

Written by: Christine Whitley

Congratulations, you have a baby! Next to nursery decor, nanny vs. daycare, and which urban stroller to buy, what’s the next most important issue on your list? School of course! If you’re considering sending your little one to one of Chicago’s public schools, in a few years, here are some essential facts to know ahead of time:

Who: Anyone who lives within the city limits of Chicago can send their child to a CPS school. If you don’t live in the city but are planning to move here, you can still apply with an out-of-town address. When it comes time to enroll your child, however, you will need two pieces of ID to prove residency.

What: Your Neighborhood School vs. Options for Knowledge. If you live in Chicago, you are in the attendance area for one and only one neighborhood elementary school. That school guarantees a spot for your child for K - 8 (not preschool, by the way). You can find your  neighborhood school using this online locator tool on called CPS School Finder

Keep in mind that this locator tool is not fail-proof. Call the Office of Demographics number listed on the homepage to verify an address if you’re trying to move into a specific attendance area. If you don’t like your neighborhood school or you just want to explore other options, you can! Options for Knowledge means that here in Chicago you are allowed to apply to almost any other school in town. There’s no guarantee that your child will be accepted, but you might get lucky with the lottery (magnet, magnet cluster, and open enrollment neighborhood schools) or your child might test into one of the Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools.

When: Kindergarten is widely considered to be the entry year for most CPS Schools. Children must be five on or before September 1st to attend Kindergarten. CPS does not allow you to hold back your child or send them early.  In general the admissions process resets every year. So you don’t have to worry about getting your child on some waiting list while she’s still in utero. You can relax and enjoy those toddler years since Kindergarten applications aren’t due until the December before she goes to Kindergarten (when your child is four or already five). In the meantime, you might want to check out the NPN School Fair and attend one of my ABC’s of CPS workshops.

Where: CPS applications are now fully electronic! This means that you can submit your applications from your very own cozy couch. The electronic applications can be found cpsmagnet.org -- that website is also a good place to find a calendar of school tour dates.

About the author: Christine Whitley is School Choice Consultant as well as a CPS parent. She helps parents navigate the selection and admission process for Chicago schools at the preschool and elementary school level. Learn more at her website: christinewhitley.com.

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 1:20 PM