North Ward Center Child Development Center Hosts Workshops on Newark’s Universal Enrollment

The North Ward Center Child Development Center in Newark hosted workshops for parents of preschoolers who had questions about Newark Public School’s new universal enrollment procedures.

The workshops were offered this week in English and Spanish at four locations for parents of children enrolled in the North Ward Center Child Development Center, a highly regarded preschool operated by The North Ward Center.

“We were getting a lot of questions from our parents about the new enrollment procedures, so we decided to host these workshops to provide as much information and help as we could,” said Michele Sceppaguercio, director of the North Ward Center Child Development Center.

The North Ward Center Child Development Center is one of the largest preschools in the state, offering free preschool for more than 600 Newark children at four locations in the city’s North Ward.

The new universal enrollment procedures are part of a school restructuring plan known as One Newark.

Under One Newark, students who are starting kindergarten are no longer enrolled in their neighborhood school. Instead parents have a choice of where to enroll their children, either in a district school or in one of the charter schools participating in the universal enrollment.

Parents must fill out an application listing their top choices and the district in April will notify parents where their child will attend school.

Marangely Diaz, whose 4-year-old son, Xavier Cruz, attends the North Ward Center Child Development Center, said she did not realize she could list more than one school on the district’s application. Diaz only listed Roberto Clemente School. She said now she will go back into the on-line application she filled out and add First Avenue School.

“I am so glad I attended the seminar,” Diaz said. “If I didn’t come to this workshop, I never would have known that I had choices.”

Deliz Rodriquez said she only learned about the universal enrollment after attending the seminar. She said Roberto Clemente is her first choice because it is conveniently located across the street from her house. But her first preference for her 4-year-old son, Mathew Martinez, is a charter school.

Enrique Galan said he hopes his daughter is able to attend North Star Charter School, where his older daughter attends sixth grade. But he is concerned that his four-year-old daughter, Kamila, may not get in through sibling preference.

“This workshop was excellent,” Galan said. “They were right on point.”

Adrianne Davis, the executive director of The North Ward Center, said the workshops provide important information for parents.

“Though we aren’t required to offer these workshops, we thought it would be in the best interests of our parents to provide them with information,” Davis said. “Our primary concern is making sure our preschool graduates end up in the school that is best for them.”