CHAMPAIGN — Parents getting ready to register their children for kindergarten in the Champaign school district have a new online tool that may help them.
The school district added a new feature to its online registration website that shows them information about how many people have listed each school as their first choice, including those who live within a mile and a half of the school (one way the school district decides who has priority at a certain school). It also shows how many people have requested a school the incoming kindergartner's sibling already attends.
It also shows how many kindergarten seats are available at each school, which schools you live within a mile and a half of, and what middle school each elementary school feeds into.
These distances are calculated by using the school district's bus system, said spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart, rather than as the crow flies.
It also shows which schools offer bilingual and English as a Second Language programs.
The registration period for kindergarten and the school district's magnet schools opened Friday and will continue through March 28.
You can find more information about registration at http://www.unit4registration.org.
Stuart said the new tool is aimed at simplifying the registration process and creating better communication with parents.
The school district started offering online registration last year, Stuart said, and the new tool was added when parents asked for such a feature.
Parents who fill out registration documents and request schools online still need to bring proof of residency to the school district's Family Information Center, 1103 N. Neil St., C, to verify their residency in the school district.
You can register online at http://choice.champaignschools.org.
One benefit of the new tool is that by the time registration is almost over, parents can see how many others have requested particular elementary schools. This can show them how competitive certain schools may be, Stuart said.
That information will show up as the district verifies and processes registration information.
Even if parents have already requested certain schools, they can still change their requests at Family Information Center later in the registration period.
"We are excited about the new dashboard because it allows parents to have even more information as they enter the schools-of-choice process," Superintendent Judy Wiegand said. "We want to make this process as transparent and parent-friendly as possible, and we believe this is a step in that direction."