By Rhea Riley
The Milwaukee Public School System (MPS) held its last Saturday enrollment hours to enroll students before the start of classes on September 4 for the 2018-2019 school year. This was the third and final Saturday the MPS headquarters opened its doors for enrollment during the months of August and September.
The Saturday hours were implemented by the school system after receiving requests from many parents. Families faced difficulty visiting the headquarters to enroll in person due to time conflicts related to work and MPS’s hours of operation.
“We were looking to provide that opportunity to families who might not be able to do so during the week,” said MPS Director of Communications & Outreach, Denise Callaway.
According to Stephanie Johnson, an administrative assistant for the Department of Student Services for MPS, summer is the biggest period for enrollment. Families who are moving, have transitioning students, want to switch schools or have other specialized needs, use the time in between school years to enroll their students.
“We definitely have an increase in traffic during the summer enrollment period, and we’ve had pretty healthy traffic during our Saturday hours as well,” said Johnson.
The additional Saturday hours also stem from MPS Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Keith P. Posley, and the new attendance campaign. The new attendance campaign emphasizes on increasing student attendance so that each child is successful and timely with their education.
“We know that children who are in school on the first day, and who attend school regularly are students who just perform better, they are more successful,” said Callaway. “And we want to make sure that every child has that good head start by being in there on their first day of school, ready to learn.”
The additional hours were essential for Head Start families.
“We are busy from the moment we open until the time we close” said family partnership associate, Connie Dallas.
Head start is a federally funded development program for both children and their families which offers early childhood education to three and four-year-olds of low-income families.
“Head Start is designed to provide an opportunity to even that playing field for children who happen to be born into poor families by offering early intervention by giving them literally a head start on school,” said Dallas.
Parents interested in the preschool program are required to enroll in person. According to Dallas, the process of enrollment involves an initial application consisting of proof of birth, proof of address, and copy of the child’s immunization record. Once this application process is complete then the family must provide a physical and dental examination result.
Enrolling for a kindergarten program is also crucial for families with children transitioning into the first-grade. In 2009, Wisconsin established a mandatory kindergarten law which states that a child must complete a five-year-old kindergarten program to enroll as a first-grader within a public school.
Despite the requirements, Dallas welcomed several different families enrolling their children during the extra hours.
Families who didn’t enroll during the early enrollment period between January 1s through August 1, were left to enroll on a first-come-first-serve basis. However, families who were able to visit the MPS headquarters to enroll were able to have a one-on-one experience when selecting the correct school for their child.
Those who were unable to enroll in person were able to enroll online. The Saturday allowed administrates to continue processing applications for online applying families.
“I think it has been a great opportunity for us to make sure that people have that chance to come in and have questions answered to get help registering their children,” said Dallas.
According to the MPS website, more than 45,000 elementary students were ready for the first day of school. The school system won’t have the total number of enrolled students on September 4tuntil the third Friday of September.
To find more information on enrolling your child visit mpsmke.com/enroll