The SF K Files is a place for parents who are seeking a school in San Francisco. The site offers up reviews of public, private and charter schools, as well as lots of advice and opinions from the community.
Did you mean September 26?
I'd love a spot! But it seems there will be none. Haven't they been calling people and filling spots as they come up?
okay, I know of at least one school that's got a waitlist and has had open spots for over a week. the spots were offered to parents after the 10-day count, but they turned them down - more than a week ago. why does it take the district so long to figure this stuff out? it's bad for the families, obviously, but schools get paid for every day a child is present so it's also taking away from the schools themselves!
6:47 -- its obvious... this district has way too many administrators making policy or whatever they do and can't see the forest for the trees -- in other word, serious mismanagement. I'll give them that it is a large school district -- so there may be some coordination issues. But clearly the way the district does not want to re-confirm family enrollment in August (like other normal school districts that care about average daily attendance and funding), does not have a coherent system for setting up a waitpool list and clearing it. For instance, is this not the 3rd round of clearing waitpool lists? Well, why not just have a rolling clearance, and call parents whenever there is a spot available. And do not hold parents to one waitpool -- so that they are jockeying and stressed out. Just let them list, and when a spot comes up and no one has it as first choice on list, then go to the parents with a 2nd choice.Sure there are some details to workout but it ain't that hard, ok?Hire a consultant. They sure seem to do a lot of that for other things.
I believe they are filling spots as they come available. I know of 2 new kids who started at Rooftop today (Thursday). They got the call last Friday.
FYI: Back in August I converted the district's PDF wait pool document into a spreadsheet. So now that the district has updated their info, I've done it again. You can find the spreadsheet here on the SfSchools blog:SfSchools: Updated wait pool spreadsheet Hope someone find this useful.
I have to share another "geez..these people really are idiots" moment from the EPC.We got the call last Thursday at 4 pm offering us a spot at Stevenson (fyi - kids moved to Ulloa and WP Lutheran). We were told that we had until noon on Friday to decide. We decided and moved our son as of Monday.Yesterday, we got a letter, dated 9/18, offering us the Stevenson spot and telling us that we had 5 days from the date of the letter to accept the spot by enrolling at the school.Yesterday was the 6th day. A perfect ending to a perfectly ridiculous process.
friday afternoon vent: even though i know we don't stand a snowball's chance in hell at getting into our waitpool school, fairmount, i still get depressed every time they run a waitpool. it doesn't even feel real anymore...it's like some sort of nasty government experiment to see how crazy they can make us.
Kim, honestly, I don't think you want to go to Fairmount. I know a family who's attending there and they think the kids are too hard to teach. Too many problem kids. They think with a different group, their kid would be doing ok. But not more than ok.They are looking at houses in the East Bay. They are exhausted. I know them, and I find their standards to be far more loosey goosey than mine, and if they don't like Fairmount, gee whiz, I can't imagine liking it.Of course, I broke down and went private because of the lottery. I'm very happy.Look at the test scores again. I don't think Fairmount is that great a loss. And I wish we didn't have to put our names on this thing, but it's hard to see you long for something I'm not sure you'd like anyway. Just had to say that.
laurel - what do you mean "too hard to teach" and "too many problem kids?" can you explain a little? i have seen that most classes have kids who are easier for the teacher to manage and those who are more challenging. it doesn't necessarily correlate with class/prior preschool experience. i'm wondering what your friends are experiencing.
I know a number of families who have been really happy at Fairmount -- including Hydra Mendoza, who is both Mayor Newsom's education advisor and a school board member. I was talking to some Fairmount families about the stuff going on there when I was still a Lakeshore parent and was really kind of envious. And a couple of years ago their PTA held a middle school information night (and potluck) and I went to talk about Aptos, and it was a great group of families. Not to mention excellent cooks. (Though Lakeshore's annual multicultural potluck is culinary heaven.)
Wow Laurel- I'm so sorry to hear about your friends prediciment. Hopefully the East Bay will provide the school atmosphere that they are looking for. As a new parent to Fairmount, I read your post in dismay. After spending 3 years in a co-op preschool with a fantastic staff and a strong community- my expectations were low with regard to Fairmount. How could any school match what I had expirienced for the past 3 years. Can I just say- I'm sold on Fairmount. We can walk/scooter to school. There are many other families who are doing the same. The school has a fair balance of spanish speaking families to non spanish speaking families. All families in our kinder class are engaged in their child's learning expirience. My son's teacher is awesome, very sensitive to all the different personalities in his class.(And my son could of been in that category of 'too hard to teach' but he really wants to please his teacher) The PTA and parents are committed to helping the school. I really couldn't of hoped for more. I'm sorry to hear that it isn't working out for your friend- but Kim G.- Fairmount Rocks! We're really happy there- but that's just our expirience.
Okay- so I like the school- but please pardon all the entries. I'm computer illiterate and this mac has a mind of it's own. Sorry.
Laurel, not sure how well you know Kim or her kid. I don't know either at all but my kids (not a friend or someone I know) are at Fairmount and we could not be happier. We love it, the mix of families feels very real and the teachers are an amazing group who challenge and inspire our kids every day. It does depend on what you are looking for. We wanted an 8:40 start, we wanted a local school we could walk to, we wanted a great program (either GE or immersion), we were looking for a school with involved parents but not "take-over" parents, we wanted discipline and control in the classroom but also a warm and nurturing feel in the school. I am not sure if we could be described as loosy goosy, we value academics and "success" in the non "loosy goosy" sense but these are not our most important priorities. We could have moved and we could have opted for private but we lucked out and got a place at Fairmount and have never looked back, we got all we were looking for in a school and more. I am sorry your friends experience has been different, but school experience is so personal. Only Kim knows what she is looking for, I really hope she gets it.
thanks, everyone, for all the interesting input about fairmount. i have to confess that it only makes me want it more (we, too, value warmth, neighborhood access and that elusive "regular" school thing over good-on-paper factors). i expect we will be 1st grade applicants (sadly).did ANYONE get a call after this run, about any school???
kim - i went to EPC today and there has been no movement in any immersion program this round. waitpools remain the same for all the schools i checked. maybe it laurel's friend leaves fairmount, you will get her spot!
ah. government experiment. knew it!(thanks for the info.)
didn't the rooftop person leave Starr King, opening up a spot in the immersion program there?
i think not. starr king still has one person with an appeal waiting for a spot. that person has been waiting for some time too. SK mandarin is completely full according to the school and EPC. :(
My Starr King Mandarin immersion kindergartener tells me that one boy in his class switched to a different school, which would put his class at 19 if this is true. And someone posted on here a couple of weeks ago that they were leaving Jose Ortega Mandarin immersion because they got into a school close to their house. So it may not be true that there is no movement in immersion -- albeit Mandarin not Spanish immersion.
I have stunning news. I got the call.Although I've posted anonymously, My comments have been amongst the most vitriolic and anti SFUSD on this list. I hate the lottery, I hate what it's put my family through, I think they're all bozos down on Franklin, and I've been bitter that for all the property taxes I pay, I went 0/15 and ended up with nothing.I just got a call from the district and my daughter got a slot at our #1 choice waitpool school. I accepted it. We start Monday. I'm floored.Floored, mainly because we went on to a private school, and she's flourishing there. It's amazing, this school, and I'm pretty sure we're on the hook for the whole year's tuition. But we have two kids to educate, and free education through 5th grade is pretty hard to turn down.Having said that, I will start another fire here and say I'm not totally convinced the come Monday, we'll be starting her at the new public school. I need to take a dayy or two and talk about it with her, with my partner, and then see if I really feel like driving all the way across town every day for an education that I'm not sure (anymore) would be the best for her. The fact is, I have made adjustments and I can afford the private parochial tuition. But come two kids, we're talking a lot.Is it worth it? Should I move my daughter and give up her amazing school for an unknown? If only I didn't know how amazing this parochial school is.But the public is great; it's one of the few schools where the population represents a cross section of this city, which is the main point I've harped about. Great scores, too. I have no idea about the after school program or anything, and I've been thrown for a loop. Any advice is welcome.
Oh, and I won't name the school until Monday when I know for sure what I want, but once I do, I'll name it. Don't tell me I'm not playing fair. After what we've gone through since last February, I deserve a day or two to investigate and think.Thanks.
Wow! Congratulations, although it sounds like a mixed blessing right now. I would definitely go right up to the new school and check it out again. If you have a spot, usually you can speak to the principal, etc. If you call the office you might be able to make an appointment.You can get your questions answered about aftercare etc. too.FWIW we transferred from a parochial school we liked to a public school and the transition was very smooth. Excellent teachers and nice kids at both schools. You might want to do the math for two kids and factor in the cost of aftercare at the public school with the cost of tuition + aftercare at the parochial school. Sometimes the math comes out a wash, particularly if you have two kids. At our parochial school after school was "family rate" so you paid the same amount no matter how many children. The aftercare was more expensive at the public school, and was "per child" not "per family." When I factored that in, the Catholic school was only slightly more expensive than the public school. We changed anyway, but just wanted to alert you of that.I agree you might need a couple days to process. It's a big step.Good luck!Anne
Thanks, Anne. I really really really want to do it. I think my big fear is that if we're not thrilled with the new school, we will have cut our nose off with the parochial.Cause listen, there ain't no way they'd have us back if we left.And it was hard to get in! Getting this parochial was like winning the lottery! A top school at 1/3 the cost. It was impossible to get a private slot for a girl this year, and getting this slot was the only thing that saved us from having to move from the city.My big snag here is that at the parochial, the class size is huge. At public, it's much less. That is driving my head right now. I want small class size.You think you'll know what you'll do, but then when it happens, you don't. Sheesh.
11:24 -- i'll just say this: what kind of public enrollment system is it that willingly delivers pro-public families into the open arms of privates? don't beat yourself up. it' hard once your kid gets invested. it's happening with our daughter too. i get the whole waitpool thing, but it's just unconscionable that families who would have taken a spot in a heartbeat in june, july, august, even september, are expected to be unconflicted when the call (finally) comes.it's not the fact of it -- it's the NUMBER of families they expect to do this each year that gets me. it would be acceptable somehow if it was only a small minority. i'm not convinced that it is (if you take into a count the number of families who are unhappy with their assignment, that is.)
Thanks, Kim. True true.Just found out that the bus route to this school runs near my house, so I could put my darling on the bus at 845 and pick her up at 415. Is a bus too much for a kindergartner?But seriously, that's like free child care, the half hour on the bus each way.Any others out there who are using buses for their k kids?
11:21 -- Congratulations!! So strange sometimes how things work out, but of course, now you have decisions. I was just going to comment...are you sure the parochial would not take you back if things did not work out with new school? I mean I can understand that they feel a bit miffed that you would consider that, but they also must realize that cost is a real issue, especially with today's economy and they should not take it personally. And if you are paying for the tuition anyway for the year (maybe you can talk them into just for the remainder of this semester)... Also -- like other poster mentioned, may have to factor in the after care costs.My kids do take bus but only for a short ride. It is fine. No fights, no problems, the bus driver knows their names, and the teachers make sure they get on etc. You can always test it out and see how it goes...It does seriously annoy me the way this District does this wait pool -- I'd be curious how other large school districts manage their enrollments. I know the smaller school districts are much more civilized and actually have enrollment two weeks before school starts so its very clear in every parents' mind as to what day school starts, and also they have a true count before school starts. Sure one or two may drop out, but nothing like this district. We enroll like what, in February with no communication until 1st day of school? Anyway best to your child and you!!
everyone with older children has told me school bus is a fine, appropriate thing for a kinder (you can follow a few times and meet them at school, find an older neighbor or friend to accompany her, befriend the driver and generally raise your comfort level prior).
Do they allow the parents to ride the bus once or twice with the kids?I know this sounds like another planet. But we live in the Mission and the idea of my kid riding a bus (with her friends or not) could be good or bad. If she was eight or nine, I wouldn't think a lot about it, as I'm of the school that your kids is safe and overprotecting her is more damaging than letting her run free. But at age five, hmmm....
I have put the word out about my getting spot this morning, and have heard back from two other families that a spot opened up at Alamo and at (gulp) Lillienthal, both this week.Why is nobody posting this information?One of the families turned it down, because one of the openings is a result of a problem behavioral kid being in one of the classes. Apparently, he's a hitter, the class is in chaos, they can't do anything about him, and it is so disruptive that three families have pulled their kids out. Ergo, the openings.Is this why I'm getting an opening? If so... Boy do I have lots of questions tomorrow when we go meet the principal.
If what you have heard about the hitter is true, I can't believe the school would sit by and watch three families leave without taking any action. Seems like the hitter needs to be forced to leave, at least a suspension seems warranted.
Yeah well, that's the thing about publics. It doesn't work like that apparently.
So, I went over today and took my child. I'm in love with this small school, which isn't even a gem. It's already there. The art was great, the size was great, it's a super clean building, the teachers were great. I feel lucky, because let's face it, most SF schools aren't this pretty. So. I want to pull her out of school and put her in this public.My daughter is now saying she doesn't want to do it. It's a huge change. I know she'll be fine, but this makes me feel absolutely awful. Having to go through this. She was crying when I told her my thinking, even though she chirped up when I told her she wouldn't have to wear a uniform. She also worried if the Chinese kids would like playing with her. But then when I told her all the cool things about Chinese kids, she was really into meeting some. It's funny to me, because her best friend at parochial school happens to be Chinese.Who knew I'd be dealing with racial bias issues this early. That was a surprise, but alas, an opportunity to have the discussion.My decision--which may change--has to do with this bloody economy, not knowing the future, and frankly, the superior commute and schedule of the school. I could forgoe after care because the bus route makes the day work for me.But I really don't want to live through this. My daughter loves her private school, and so do I. But I added it up. Over six years of education, two children will cost at least $90,000. Which is a steal by San Francisco standards.Or I can spend that $90,000 on [fill in the blank here].So I'm willing to do this. But what I will put my daughter through is major, I'm afraid. At this point. Not a month ago. Nooooo. They couldn't have called me then. But now they call me.Oh what to do what to do.It's really the economy. We're in for rough times, and it's no time to say no to public school.Thanks for letting me vent. I'm getting there. I have until Monday, yes? honestly, I don't know what I'll do. Just swinging back and forth, lucky to have a decision to make. But not lucky in that I will have to make a one way decision. no going back once I do.
I too sent my son to a parochial school this year, thinking the education and discipline would be better, and I am confident I made the right decision. St. Brendan's. He's doing very well.I did both public rounds just to see if lightning would strike. I am still on the wait list at Rooftop because it's near my house, but haven't thought much of it. If I got a call like you did, I'd be in shock.I was laid off back in June from my job in the mortgage industry, and needless to say, I see a career change for me. I now wonder whether we will be able to afford school next year, and now, whether a move to a less expensive area is in order. That would be a change no matter how you look at it. And no matter how much I love San Francisco, I know I could see living over the bridge.If the decision is going to be based on money, you should probably go public. But if the decision is based on the quality of education, you should sit down and make a list of what it is you think you are getting at the parochial school that you can't at the public.We thought we were getting more quality, but I think really at these years it's a wash. I think we are getting safety, we are getting religion, discipline, manners, we are getting the guarantee that no child in the class will have any discipline issues (they'd remove him at once) and it is indeed strict.What's news to me is that I think the teachers in PUBLIC schools are probably better, for the simple reason they are paid better, have more requirements, have masters degrees, are credentialed, and are more geared to making it a life long career.For me, if I were you, I'd take the public school. Money is money. If you think the difference in quality isn't that great, and by your description, it sounds like you got a real top public, then I want you to know, it's OKAY to make a decision based on money. I would.And what can I say, I wish I were in your position.
Re kindergartners on schoolbuses--yes, lots do it; mine did starting the second day of school. The driver gets to know the kids. Going to school is especially a snap--kid gets on, rides to school, and is directed onto school yard for usual morning circle routine at the end of the ride. Soooo great not to be one of hundreds of cars pulling up for morning drop-off. If you have a bus route near your house, congratulations! It is so much better than driving.Going home on the bus was a bigger leap for us--would our kid know to get off at the right stop? I waited anxiously at the stop for the first few days, prepared to leap onto the bus and drag her off. But all was well. Our K teachers started off the year pinning the kids' bus stops to their jackets, along with parent contact info, so the driver would know which kid needed to get off where, and the driver seated the younger kids near the front. My kid bounded off at the exactly right time. By the third time, she had memorized "her" route. As well, the driver would not even move the bus until she (the driver) had made eyeball contact with an adult meeting the small children. The whole experience helps to build a sense of independence for the kids, but in a controlled way.And yes, parents absolutely can ride the bus with the children, in either direction. Either to reassure the children (and let's face, you the parent) that it is fine to ride the bus, or just to get yourself up to school for a parent-teacher conference or school assembly or whatever. Lots of parents don't have cars and it is a great service to get a free ride at least one way.
I made the decision to enroll my child in Rooftop this week after getting a call. We are having to leave our private school to do this. I'm very angry at the district which has forced us into this pickle, six weeks into the school year. But we just couldn't say no to Rooftop. I am shocked at how hard this decision has been. Good luck to the family who is still making the decision.
11:50, THANKS for the bus information. This was the only missing link in deciding to go ahead and take the offer and send my daughter to Yick Wo Elementary school. I think it's great they allow the parents to ride the bus. This makes the public schools so much homier than the privates, in my mind.Yick Wo is an awesome school, and I can't wait to start my daughter there! I can't believe I'm so lucky.Even though, I just saw the letter from the district, and we could have done this two weeks ago. I wish they didn't drag their feet.
Congratulations on Yick Wo! It's a great school. I know several families that have gone there--most now graduated and some now in the upper grades. High-achieving, nice community, and a little under the radar of Noe/Bernal families. Or off the beaten track, anyway, even one family that I know rode the bus from Valencia and 18th and all was fine, and I think the Yick Wo bus goes to Bernal too.
3:01, yeah. I'm a Mission family. I was on the Clarendon wait list and named some really up and comer off the radar schools on both rounds, still with Clarendon on top. It felt wasted.But I discovered Yick Wo--it had been on my list through both rounds. It's boggling for me to understand why this little school isn't on the radar as much. Yes, it's next to impossible to get into, but then again, it's no Clarendon/Rooftop impossible. I switched to it as my waitpool after my first failed wait round.It looks like a rich school in the suburbs, it's on a quiet delightful block of Russian Hill, right across from Jimmy Stewart's house from Vertigo, down the hill from the crookedest street. And lots of neighborhood kids, with a good mix of economics. No gimmicks, no immersion, no cultural exchange, no uniforms, nothing but regular reading, writing, math, art, music, and snack time.So I need to start a new thread about great schools that nobody applies to because they're afraid of other parts of town. Yick Wo is better than Rooftop by a mile, as far as facilities go, and the mix of kids is right in there with Clarendon, Grattan, Lillienthal, etc. It's the great urban legend: a small intimate place where there are all sorts of bright normal kids getting together and learning. You could film a sitcom here. My kid's class has 20 kids. About 7 white/euro, 10 Asian, 3 others.It's not like it needs to improve, or is a "gem" or future good school. It's good now. It's award winning every year, Blue Ribbon, and Title 1 Acheivement, the scores are high and keep going up, it's squeaky clean with ballet, art, music and the teachers are dedicated. The PTA is well funded and active.So why aren't there 1200 applicants here like Clarendon? I don't get it.Lucky us. I'll be out there on the front lines spreading the word.
all you have to do is say that here, stand back, and let the lemmings descend...
3:31, in what respect Charlie? ;-)
There appears to be some movement into the so called top tier public school waitpools. Just his past week, three families left our private school for public school, amongst the schools were Rooftop, Alamo, and Clarendon. If those are choice spots, I don't know what are. The Rooftop family said that at least three new kids showed up within the past two weeks.Why is nobody writing about this? Should we have a new thread??This is huge news. All the rumors that we would have no spots open up, well, turns out we are having spots open up.The principal at Yick Wo told me they'd gone deep into their waitpool, as many parents had kids in schools and didn't want to change at this late date.So whaddya know. There is movement. It's just six ridiculous weeks into the school year.Hello? Is anybody out there?? Hello?
And this by necessity means openings at private schools. I know there were a gajillion families out there who wanted Hamlin and NDV, and there was a boy and a girl spot released because of the public openings. Will a family find bliss at their private school, finally, now?
Maybe next month Kate can have a poll asking 1) do you have a spot at a school which works for your family? and 2) when did you get this spot?
We also got a call at the beginning of this week that our son got accepted at Rooftop. I could not believe it! Rooftop was our number one choice for public school throughout the application process nightmare, but saw our chances getting smaller and smaller, with each day of the school year. We had our son enrolled in a very good private school and we got to like it a lot during the first 5 weeks we've been there. Even though before the school year started we kept on saying that we will try Rooftop each and every year until we get in, it was one of the hardest decision we had to make! It is sad that the process is so complicated and leaves a bitter taste, and you feel it's pure luck when you get a call like this (I do not believe the lottery systems works too well). We did talk to the principal of the private school and the automatic payment can be stopped, as long as they get the message in writing re: leaving school.
I've heard that many spots open up during the first semester as various parents decide that their kids weren't ready for kindergarten after all. It does require patience and flexibility on the part of parents still in the waitpools but seems worth it in the long-run.
all right, it seems to be truer than every reading these posts--the families who can afford private have a better chance of getting into the highest demand publics because they have the option of waiting it out in the waitpool. seems unfair somehow. we would have loved rooftop (or yick wo) too, but were 0/7, no private option, so put a much safer bet for out round 2 waitpool.i think this phenomena is partly why there seem to be more families with money at the highly desired publics.so, money can beat the lottery odds in the long run.(a little bitter, but our public is working out okay)
Money didn't help us. We are not wealthy, but we did apply to private back ups and got zilch.What private school did you guys leave? Please name the schools...
Yick Wo had a very short wait list, which is why my family got in. We changed in the summer from Clarendon's long list. As of today, every one of the five families on the wait list turned down a spot because they didn't want to change their kid around this late.We grabbed one spot. My daughter started today and is over the moon! There is one open spot, which is rare at this school. One open spot NOW.PLEASE, if you want a spot in the best, high score diverse, pro family PTO, great facility, little neighborhood school of Yick Wo, stop bitching and rush down to the district office and tell them you want to put your name on the waitpool. There is one spot open.Feel free to contact me. I was a bitter mom until my daughter got this spot. We went 0/15 and forfeited a ton of money at the private school. But we switched just the same. I believe in public education.If that makes me a bad person, come join our school and be bad with me. Let's get things done!
I want to second Yick Woo mom here... We are also not wealthy, but put education above all. And we do believe in public schools, I went all the way through college to public system, in Europe. We got none of our choices the first and second rounds, and had Rooftop as waitpool in the summer. I think we are extremely lucky that we got called, and we accepted it. The spot we left open was at NDV.
Yes, and I had the same experience. 0/15. The call last week came out of the blue.As an aside, I'd like to say that Yick Wo is the equal or better than any school I've seen, private or public, in San Francisco. I would NEVER make a decision like this as a fluke, or based on money, or unless my daughter's education would improve as a result.It's not about money. It's about the quality of education, and what I'm getting for free in public school (I pay tons of taxes) is remarkable.
does yick wo have any aftercare? afterschool language enrichment?
also, the last date as per EPC to change waitpool was oct 3. WAAAAAHHHH.
Yick Wo's aftercare is awesome, and it's free. They prefer K kids to wait till 1st grade, because it's too stressful.The SF Ballet chose Yick Wo as a school, and musicians stop by. Lots of dancing, art, poetry.Honestly, the more we get into the community, the more I can't believe I get all this for free.
I'm a proud Yick Wo parent too. We live in Telegraph Hill, and most of the parents in our daycare co-op send their kids there. About ten years ago, neighborhood parents got together and just enrolled and pitched in, and you can really tell.The school is wonderfully diverse. There are no issues with the building or the playground, and in fact, the garden parents are really at it this year. The principle is a pro, the teachers are highly educated and involved.I think it's fair to say that every parent who sends their child to Yick Wo is convinced they are at the best elementary school in San Francisco.
I toured Sutro today and the principal said that they currently have 2 open spots in K. Just thought I'd pass it along.
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2:59 p.m., would you be willing to share whether the "hitter" is at Alamo or Lilienthal? The reason I ask is because last year 4 children left K early in the year (info was posted on this blog) due to a "problem" child. They sure seem to get their fair share of those at Lilienthal, or perhaps the families that attend have the means to leave easily.