Where do I start?
First, go to the Pre-K Finder map I linked to above. You’re going to find the 12 closest schools, and start entering data about each of them into the spreadsheet. What spreadsheet, you ask? Download it here: http://meetduo.com/nyc_prek_ranking.zip
Now that you have your fancy coastal elite spreadsheet at the ready, we can start entering information. You need to understand if each school is a District (DOE public school), NYCEEC (programs usually for low-income students, contracted to a community center), a DOE Pre-K Center, or a charter school. Your preferences here will be personal, so weight them accordingly.
Next, find your zoned school! This is important, because if there’s Pre-K at your zoned school, you’ll probably want to apply there! When I attended a Pre-K application session (the DOE runs multiple every year, in each borough) they said that getting into your zoned school’s Pre-K program gives you a slight (ever so slight) advantage when it comes time to apply to Kindergarten. So go here, and enter your street address to find out your school: http://schools.nyc.gov/schoolsearch/
Unless you’re driving a car, have a private car (in which case you’re probably not sending your child to public school), or Uber everywhere like a true coastal elite, you probably want to be able to walk to your kid’s school. So head on over to Google Maps, and find out the distance each program is from your apartment.
Woohoo—we’ve reached our first formula! The spreadsheet will find the maximum distance in column F (Distance), subtract the distance from the school from that max value, and then multiply by a number (in this case, 3) that gives us a score range of 0–2.
How do I change the weight of different factors?
This part is relatively simple—for the scores that are binary (0 or 1, 0 or 3, etc), you’ll just adjust those values by hand. For the scores that are calculated using a formula, there will be a value (a multiplier or divisor) that you’ll simply edit in the formula. The reason we’re using formulas to calculate this stuff is so that we can normalize the resulting score with the scores of other factors.
Update: The spreadsheet is now in Google Docs, which makes it easier to share.
How many seats does the program have?
This is a pretty big factor, and probably one of the most critical in your scoring—just how many seats are there for your little one to plop their bottom down into? Let’s take a look at P.S. 158, a great school that’s a few blocks away, but outside of our zone: