By Jason Zwara, Kevin Heffernan – Interactive map by Drew Brown
Title Image: Cel Lisboa

For first-time parents, Kindergarten is coming

And in the city of Buffalo, there’s plenty of options to choose from.

The Buffalo Public Schools are finally in an upswing with a renewed emphasis on neighborhoods, communities, and putting the children first. A new wave of successful charters has also contributed to confidence in the system as a whole. If your kids are coming of age and you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options, deadlines etc, then here’s a simple guide for all things public and charter. Check out the map at the bottom, too:

Navigating Kindergarten Options in Buffalo


District Options

    • The Application
    • Timeline:
      • Application opens in early October, closes in early December (exact dates change yearly)
      • Application may be submitted in person to central registration office or submitted via email to
      • One application must be submitted for each child, though the application provides a space to list siblings/co-applicants for grouping/preference
    • Age Requirements:
      • BP Montessori #32 offers city’s only 3-year-old program
      • Several other schools offer pre-K for 4-year-olds
      • Kindergarten students must be 5-years-old on or before 12/31 of the year preceding when they will enroll (e.g. must by 5 by 12/31/18 if beginning K in 2019-20 year)
    • Preferences:
      • Siblings: if a sibling living in the same house as an applicant attends a preK-8 school and the parent indicates a preference on the application, the applicant will be given priority
        • This does not apply to criteria programs
      • Proximity: Priority may be given if a student lives within 0.7 miles (w/n walking distance) of a school, or, for some schools, between 0.71 and 1.5 miles (w/n community)
      • Attendance Boundary: three schools have designated attendance boundaries (available here), where students living in the attendance zone are given priority for a share, or all, of the seats
        • Olmstead #64: 65% of seats reserved for gifted program, requiring entrance exam
        • Discover #67: 50% of seats have attendance zone priority
        • Highgate Heights #80: 100% of seats have attendance zone priority
    • Special Programs:


  • Gifted: two schools (FLO #64 and AOE #61) offer ‘gifted and talented’ programs; students applying to these programs must make an appointment for the required exam


  • Language Immersion: several schools offer “dual language immersion” classrooms, with a 50/50 split of English and Spanish speaking students: parents may indicate a preference for these classrooms on the application, along with the applicant’s primary language; a few schools also offer “bilingual” classrooms for Spanish-primary speaking students
  • Uniforms: a few schools have uniform requirements; these are indicated on the application


Charter Options

The Application

  • Each charter school has its own enrollment application, though several have begun using the online application system SchoolMint, which allows a parent to fill out applications from a centralized platform
  • Parents can apply to as many or as few charter schools as they wish
  • Charter schools may give priority to siblings of current students; some may also elect to give preference to certain categories of ‘high need’ student populations, but are not required to

The Timeline

  • Most charter applications come out early in the school year (August-October)
  • Charters are required to accept applications through at least April 1st; many schools, if they have received more applications than available seats, will hold a seat lottery in early April
  • Charter schools also accept applications after their application or lottery deadline, with new applicants coming after the deadline placed on a waitlist
  • Students accepted for a seat, either through open enrollment of through the lottery, are typically given a short period of time (roughly a week, depending on the school) to confirm their enrollment and complete the enrollment process

Getting More Information

  • Use New York State’s School Data Site
  • Email/call the school’s office
  • Set up a tour of the school
  • Look up the school’s Facebook page for open house or recruitment events
  • Reach out to the school’s parent or parent/teacher organization

Charter Schools with Kindergarten