Yesterday, I stopped by Providence Public Schools' Student Registration and Placement Center to register my youngest child for kindergarten. In and out in 25 minutes. The staff confirmed that 4:00 in the afternoon on weekdays is a great time to stop in if you can; in our case, it was the only hour I had available that has been designated for children whose last name starts with the letter of the alphabet with which my youngest son's last name starts.
Much was the same as when I registered my second child three years ago: too-loud tv blaring in ther corner, blank empty room, lots of chairs in rows. A shelf or two of books and games for kids would be lovely, and perhaps a DVD featuring performances and learning in action in Providence Public School classrooms would go far to making the wait (brief in my case, but longer for many) more pleasant.
Nevertheless, the process itself was easy. Filled out the various forms, presented birth certificate, health records, and proof of residency (this kid's circumstances don't require extra steps of ESL assessment or IEP processing), a chat with the registration staff member to confirm or supply information, and that was that. As I was registering my son for a school which a sibling attends, I received verbal confirmation that he would have a kindergarten seat at that school as long as his immunization records were up to date.
In past years, the process included meeting with a school nurse to review health records. Not this year - the registration staff member I met with reported that they're swamped and no longer do those individual meetings. A nurse will review kids' immunization and health records and be in touch if anything is missing or awry.
So that was that. 25 mostly low-stress minutes from start to finish. I do not expect that everyone will have an identical experience, and I continue to suggest you enter into the process informed about which schools you wish to choose as a first choice and the implications of those choices. Read this post on registering your child for kindergarten and first grade in the Providence Public Schools for thoughts on those matters, and for more advice.
The only caveat to the ease of the experience--well, the only caveat in addition to the blaring tv in the waiting area--is the uncertainty that all parents share about which schools are likely to close. The announcement of which schools will be closed, originally slated to be released yesterday, was delayed--here's Mayor Taveras' statement on the reasons for that delay and the criteria that decisionmakers are using about choosing which schools to close. The timing is terrible, of course. Parents may well be choosing schools that will soon be closed, or finding that the school that they chose will be significantly different due to increased student population or other unknown factors. I asked the registration staff member who assisted me how this would impact her work and she sighed in a way with which any one of us prepared to put in many long, difficult hours at work would sympathize.