Milton Elementary School (MES) will switch its pre-K registration process to a lottery system for the 2019-20 school year. Parents and guardians have between March 7 and 21 to enter their child into the lottery.


The lottery departs from a former system in which students were admitted into district pre-K classes on a first-come first-serve basis. The new system will allow for a greater number of students to be screened as it looks at all students in the pool rather than just the first few to sign up, according to superintendent Amy Rex.


“Our reason for that change, explicitly, is that the lottery system aligns with the recommended practice from the state,” Rex said at a board meeting last Monday. “It’s also the practice other school districts are doing in the region.”


Prospective MES students must be 3-years-old by Sept. 1, 2019 to be eligible for the pre-K lottery. The 3-year-old cohort can register online for a chance at one of 28 seats for the school-based half-day program held four mornings per week. Students who are not selected will be placed on a waiting list, according to administrators.


Alternatively, families of prospective preschoolers can enroll their kids in a program at a pre-qualified community-based partner site with at least 10 hours of certified pre-K instruction each week, through Act 166.  


Families of MES prospective students who will be 4-years-old by Sept. 1, 2019 can enter their children in a waitlist lottery between March 7-21 for school-based placement in the half-day afternoon course held four days per week. Selected students will be placed on the waiting list in the order their names are drawn, school officials said.  


Four-year-olds also have the chance at one of 30 seats in the district’s full-day/full-week  program. Ten seats from this pool will be reserved for the Head Start program, which promotes school readiness for children ages zero to five who come from low-income families. This program will be filled via a family needs assessment, not a lottery, according to early education collaborative coordinator Wendy Cunningham.


Prospective four-year-old pre-K students will also have the alternative option to enroll in an Act 166 pre qualified community-based partner site with at least 10-hours of certified pre-K programming per week.


The district’s pre-K lotteries will be held via a notarized process at the administrative level to ensure fairness and confidentiality.  


Parents had the opportunity to attend an information session to learn more about the lottery process and pre-K options on March 6 in the MES library from 5:30-7 p.m.


“The process we were following before probably didn’t do the parents and families a service,” board chairman Mike Joseph said. “I think this is going to open it up to be more of a fair and open process.”


ABC Academy in Milton will offer pre-K programming as an Act 166 community-based partner next year. Directors at Little Feats Too and Loveworks childcare said they are working to become Act 166 community-based partners for pre-K.


Little Feats Too was an Act 166 certified community based partner but lost that status when MTSD moved its licensed teacher from the center to the district’s in-house pre-K program, owner Amy Murray said. “I’m hopeful that we can get my current pre-K teacher licensed,” she said adding it’s possible her center could regain Act 166 status as early as this September.