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Clayton Schools begins pre-k lottery registration

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

For the next two and a half weeks, Clayton County Public Schools will be registering potential students in the school system's pre-kindergarten lottery, according to an official with the program.

Registration for the computer-generated lottery began on Monday, at the school system's Family Resource Center, which is located at 2260 Old Rex Morrow Road in Morrow. Lottery registration will continue through March 19, said Cynthia Roberts, the school system pre-kindergarten program's assistant coordinator.

Roberts said the lottery will be conducted in early April. The lists of students chosen for the program will be placed at the schools that have pre-kindergarten classes during the first week in May, she added. Students who are not chosen through the lottery will be placed on a waiting list, she said.

There will be 640 seats available in the school system's pre-kindergarten program for next year, according to Roberts, and an average of 1,200 students have been registered for the pre-kindergarten lotteries in recent years.

"Today [Monday], alone, we had 205 families show up to register their children," she said. "We've had standing in line all day."

Each week until March 19, the Family Resource Center will be open Monday through Friday for lottery registration. Most days, the center will be open only during its regular business hours of 8 a.m., to 4 p.m.

There will be a few days, however, when the center will have extended hours for parents, or guardians, who want to register their children for the pre-kindergarten lottery, according to the school system's web site. On Thursday, and on March 19, the center will be open from 8 a.m., to 7 p.m. On March 13, it will be open from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m.

"The child must be 4 years old on, or before, Sept. 1, 2010 to be enrolled in the pre-k program next year," Roberts said.

Roberts also said that in order to register a child for the pre-kindergarten lottery, a parent or guardian must bring the youth's original birth certificate, and a government-issued form of photo identification, such as a driver's license or valid passport, for the parent or guardian. The parent or guardian must also provide two forms of proof they are a resident of Clayton County.

Roberts said mortgage receipts, recent rent receipts, sanitation receipts or bills for utilities -- including gas, water and electricity -- can be used to prove residency. "They [the receipts and bills] all must be dated within 60 days of when they [parents or guardians] are registering their child for the lottery," she said.

If a child is placed on the school system's waiting list, following the lottery, Roberts said the school system will provide lists to the youth's parents or guardians of local day care centers that have state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.

According to the school system's web site, Clayton County Public Schools' pre-kindergarten sites for the 2010-2011 school year, include Anderson, Callaway, Church Street, East Clayton, Edmonds, Fountain, Hawthorne, Huie, Jackson, King, Lake City, Lake Ridge, Lee Street, McGarrah, Morrow, Northcutt, Pointe South, Riverdale, River's Edge, Suder, Tara, and West Clayton elementary schools, as well as Kemp and Mt. Zion primary schools.

The pre-kindergarten program at the Unidos Dual Language Charter School, in Forest Park, will also be open to any student in Clayton County. That school's program, however, requires parents or guardians to attend an information session before registering for two, hand-drawn lotteries conducted specifically for that school, according to Roberts.

"We do it that way because it is a charter school, and there are different requirements to register for that school's lottery," she said. "We require parents attend an information session beforehand, and they have to agree to keep their children in the school through the fifth-grade. Also, children who have a sibling that is already enrolled in that school are first choices for admission. That's the only school where we'll do it."

Information sessions for Unidos' pre-kindergarten program will take place on March 9, at 9 a.m.; March 13, at 12 p.m.; and on March 18, at 5 p.m. All information sessions will take place at the school, which is located at 4475 Hendrix Drive, in Forest Park.

The hand-drawn lotteries for the pre-kindergarten program at Unidos will be conducted at the school, on March 29, at 9 a.m.

For more information about the lottery registration, call the pre-kindergarten hotline at (770) 472-7200, ext. 35555.

While the current enrollment cycle is for the pre-kindergarten lottery, the registration cycle for kindergarten will begin in mid-April, according to the school system's web site.

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On the net:

Clayton County Public Schools: www.clayton.k12.ga.us