Needham Preschool Changes Enrollment Strategy

September 25, 2023
• A highly in-demand NPS program recently changed how they will approve applicants.

Ask any parent, and they will say that finding a good preschool for your child is tough, and getting them into that preschool is even tougher. That certainly has seemed to be the case of the Needham Preschool, located within the Newman Elementary School. At the September 19th School Committee meeting, Director Daniel Cohen reported that the enrollment process for the preschool has been on hold pending changes to the way it is conducted. The goal is to make the process more equitable.

“Prior, the process that was in place involved a first-come-first-served system that was done online, and opened at midnight the day after Labor Day for the following school year.” Cohen stated. “Through that process, looking at last year specifically…we reached full capacity in three minutes.”

The program is small. Needham Preschool has 80 seats split between full and half day students, which translates into 28 full day, and 24 half day slots. Cohen estimates that this leaves a wait-list of more than 40 families at any given time. “I think that is a huge testament to the quality of the program,”responded School Sommittee member Alisa Skatrud.”I would love to be in a position where we could fully meet the needs and demand of the community.”

While space and financial constraints would stand in the way of expansion, the new enrollment process might give the school committee a better idea of what that demand is. The preschool will change over to a random lottery process, where families will have an open enrollment period to sign up for the lottery. After the slots are filled, those who signed up will be placed on a wait-list, and then those who missed the enrollment period will be added to that list on a first-come-first-served basis.

As had been the case, Needham Preschool will continue to prioritize returning students, but will now give preference to siblings of enrolled students. Cohen had identified this as a reason some students had dropped out in the past.

The enrollment period for the 2024-2025 school year opens next week on Sunday, October 1st.

You can watch the full presentation to the School Committee here.

You can learn more about the Preschool Program here.

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