Parents camp out for kindergarten enrollment

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sleeping bags and chairs were evidence of the long, cold night outside Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia.

Space is limited, so your order in line could determine whether your child gets enrolled for kindergarten.

There were only 60 slots available which was bad news for some 33 disappointed parents.

Paul Wiedner waited outside for roughly 24 hours. He was number 18 in line.

Kristofer Love and his wife lined up on the sidewalk around 9:00 a.m. Sunday so he could be first to submit their paperwork at 9:00 a.m. Monday.

"We were the catalyst to everyone getting out of their cars and getting in line. They started calling their friends and notifying everyone, within an hour there were about 35 people outside," Love said.

Just before 6:30 a.m., parents were allowed inside to continue their wait.

Penn Alexander is in the Philadelphia School District but the University of Pennsylvania subsidizes an operating contribution of $1,330 per student, an amount that helps to keep the student-teacher ratio low.

Parents also commended the teachers and programs.

Naima Black took turns waiting for a friend.

"It's a crime that people have to do this. First of all sit outside, have the anxiety that people have about trying to find a good school for their child," Black said.

The school district spokesman says the number of eligible children outnumbers available spots and that there's been no discussion to change this registration process.

Children who do not get in will be referred to a different school.

Parents add children with siblings in the school don't get preference.

"We already have two here. The fact that you have siblings in the school doesn't mean a thing," Marielena Mata said.

But the waiting game's not over yet. Parents say they won't know if their child has been admitted until an official letter arrives in a couple of months.

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