By Smarty Mom, Erin Romeiser
We are on the verge of a new day in our house, fellow Smarties. That’s right, the youngest Romeiser is a few short months from entering KINDERGARTEN. I am going to be honest, though I may shed a nostalgic tear on that first day, I am filled with glee imagining the end of “Preschool Jail.” All 3 of my children will, finally, be enrolled at Beverly Woods next year, our fabulous neighborhood school. What’s that, you say? You, too, have a rising kindergartener who you plan to enroll in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools? But it is your first child, and you feel lost at taking that first step to register him or her? Lucky for you, I have done this a few times before and can help you navigate the process.
My first piece of advice is to go ahead and GET IT DONE. The beginning of the year is a great time to knock this off of your list. You will start getting information in the mail soon after you register, so do not put it off any longer.
Go head and fill out the CMS New Student Enrollment Form. You can print this from the CMS website (www.cms.k12.nc.us, click Parents, click Enroll Your Child, click Enrolling Your Student) OR you can walk into any CMS school and request the form at the front desk. Return (in person) your completed form to your home school, along with an original birth certificate, and 3 required proofs of residency. I believe I took a copy of our deed, a recent Duke Energy bill, and my driver’s license. Other examples of acceptable documents are listed on the enrollment form itself. They will take copies of these documents and return them to you. An important note is to be sure the addresses on all of these match the address you provide for enrollment. Once you submit your completed enrollment form to the school, you can expect to receive a letter confirming your school assignment as well as giving you information regarding magnet school application. You can also expect to start receiving other information in the mail including Beginner’s Day dates, transportation information, and student lunch forms.
You are also required to submit a completed Health Assessment form as well as your child’s current immunization records. The assessment can be printed at the same website listed above. If you ask for paperwork from a CMS school, it should be included in the packet of forms they provide you, but just ask to be sure. The Health Assessment and immunization report must be completed by your child’s doctor. An important note: you can submit your child’s New Student Enrollment Form without the Health Assessment and immunizations, but they are required before the first day of school. So never fear if your child will not have a physical until the spring or summer months!
The final form included in the packet/listed on the website is a Safe Schools Declaration. This is only required for students transferring to CMS from other districts, not for kindergarteners.
VISIT YOUR SCHOOL
If you have not had the chance to visit your CMS home school, it is a great time to do this, as well. In fact, many area schools are having a Parent Open House this week. Call your neighborhood school to find out the date for that event. For the Parent Open House, you do not need to sign up, just show up at the scheduled time. There will be a short introduction to the school as well as a tour. If you happen to miss your school’s final Parent Open House, it is not a problem. Call the front desk of the school, let them know that you missed the Open House but would love a tour, and they will put you in touch with a PTA volunteer. I assure you, someone will be more than happy to help you.
A NOTE ON MAGNET SCHOOLS
Let me first say, the CMS Magnet System is not my specialty as my kids all attend our home school of Beverly Woods. That being said, there are many wonderful and interesting magnet schools in the CMS system. Examples include the language immersion programs at E.E. Waddell and Collinswood, Myers Park Traditional School, and Park Road Montessori. The list is quite varied.
Admission to a CMS Magnet School is available via lottery. Although the deadline to qualify for the first magnet lottery has passed, it is not too late to qualify for the second lottery. The first step in applying to a magnet school is the same as for any other CMS school: follow the steps listed above to enroll your child as a CMS student at your home school. When you are sent your student’s school assignment, you will also receive information on application to a magnet school (or student reassignment).
My advice for finding the right magnet school is to first visit the CMS website to read more about your choices and their requirements (http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/MagnetPrograms/Pages/default.aspx). The website also includes detailed information on the lottery and application process. Next, contact the individual schools for more information, open house dates, and tours. The magnet schools themselves will also be your best resource for further understanding the lottery process. Do not fear calling the school office to ask questions.
That is it! I think you can handle this, yes? Not so intimidating. Enrolling your first (or, gulp, last) child in kindergarten is a time of complicated emotions. It should not need to be full of complicated paperwork, as well.
Who out in Smartyland is getting ready to put their first child in kindergarten?