Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hot topic: Share Round I lists

An SF K Files visitor suggested that parents share their Round I lists. "I know that many regular posters didn't participate in the first thread because they worried that it might make their top choices more popular," the SF K File visitor says. So let's share them now because what's done is done...

46 comments:

  1. I'll start. RE: Immersion, note that we have a son who scored 100 percent fluency on the SFUSD Spanish-language assessment.

    Alvarado Sp. Imm
    Flynn Sp. Imm
    Miraloma
    Grattan
    Jose Ortega Mandarin
    Clarendon JBBP
    Rooftop

    (We're really angling for our top two but would be happy with Jose Ortega, which we think we have a reasonable chance of getting.)

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  2. I've posted before (perhaps anonymously...my memory is horrible these days!), but there has been a tweak to the preference order:

    Commodore Sloat
    Robert Louis Stevenson
    Ulloa
    Lakeshore
    Sunset
    Francis Scott Key
    Jefferson

    I think we'd get RLS for sure. But really, we'd be happy at any of these!

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  3. Grattan
    Rooftop
    Alvarado
    Alvarado SI
    McKinley
    New Traditions
    Rosa Parks JBBP

    Good luck everyone!

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  4. afy
    Lawton
    west portal cn
    Jefferson
    Argonne
    sunset
    Clarendon jb

    we figure if you are picked inthe top 15% you have a good chance at one of these schools. roll the dice.....

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  5. My prediction: That last poster will go 0/7 in Round 1.

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  6. Daniel Webster SI
    Starr King MI
    Alvarado SI
    Flynn SI
    Monroe SI
    Revere SI
    Harvey Milk

    Lots of good things happening on the eastern(ish) side of town.

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  7. ^ true. But only if you seek language immersion.

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  8. The last private thread is pretty far down, so I'm sneaking this in here. I know everyone applies to the same privates, but I'm curious about what people feel is their number one pick. We really like SFDS out of the ones we toured. Part of it is location, I'll admit. We love the teaching philosophy a lot, though. MCDS was nice, too, but it seemed just a bit too "crunchy" for our tastes.

    Also, did you apply for financial aid? We did. We got our letter of contribution from SSS and it showed our contribution as more than what the schools here in SF cost. I was surprised since they tell people with income of not more than $250K to apply. I know the schools can make their own judgements, but I'm not terribly hopeful about it. However, if they do want income diversity maybe it's possible.

    I already posted my public list. We have an excellent chance of getting our number one choice. If we do get in one of our favorite private choices it will be a difficult decision. (I almost hope we don't get any financial aid.) I still feel so torn over all of this.

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  9. To 11:09 - Why the negativity? That poster did not ask for your opinion on his or her list. I admit I am addicted to this blog but I am so tired of some of the attitudes on it. Yuck.

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  10. Chinese immersion is not just our top priority...it's the main reason we haven't moved to Marin.

    Starr King mandarin (immersion)
    Jose Ortega mandarin (immersion)
    West Portal cantonese (immersion)
    West Portal general ed (close to home)
    George Peabody (close to work)
    Sutro (close to work)
    Sunnyside (close to home)

    Here's hoping Kate hasn't inspired TOO many people to apply to Jose Ortega :-) I recall it got a big boost in the second round last year after she announced her assignment.

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  11. Public Schools:
    1. Yick Wo
    2. Sherman
    3. New Traditions
    4. Clare Lillienthal
    5. Grattan
    6. Alice F.Y.
    7. Rooftop

    We only put the last two because we have zero chance of these, and we wouldn't go to them even if we did get in--we live in North Beach, and i don't want to drive so far away.

    Re the private school post about First choice schools and financial aid, see the private school post--i will answer what i think there.

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  12. Posted this list earlier, as well.
    This time with some of our thinking:

    Miraloma - Not much chance bc so popular. Just loved it on tour, more than any other. Close to home, too. Would be thrilled, but not expecting to get in.
    Fairmount (S) - We think our child would love and thrive with language immersion. Immersion not a "must have" but would be great. We realize that these programs are very hard to get. (Did not put Flynn bc so few openings, did not want to waste a spot on our list.)
    Alvarado (S) - As above. Imm would be great, location convenient, realize chance is slim due to popularity.
    Starr King (M) - Mandarin imm would be very cool, too. (How lucky are we to have a program like this in our public school system? I heart SF!) Feel like chance is slightly better but not sure about that. Slightly challenging commute but doable.
    Sunnyside - Close to home, and got very nice warm feeling on the tour (except for the bungalows). Feel like chances of getting in are decent, though it does seem to be getting "hot" so who knows.
    McKinley - Liked on tour, commute a bit tougher for us but would be happy if none of above pan out.
    Glen Park - Super duper convenient. Pleasantly surprised on the tour, and would love to see it emerge as more of a "neighborhood school". Willing to put in the work to help that happen if we get in here. Could be exciting, esp if there is a wave of motivated GP families this year. Kind of assuming we will get in here if we don't get the others, though I realize nothing is certain.

    Overall - feel like we have a realistic list that we are excited about. Hopeful - yes we can!

    Good luck all.

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  13. Clarendon J
    Clarendon Gen
    Sunnyside
    Fairmount
    Miraloma
    West Portal C
    Flynn Sp

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  14. English speaker in the outer mission:

    Fairmount
    SF Community
    Commodore Sloat
    Flynn General Ed
    West Portal
    Lakeshore
    Buena Vista

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  15. Just posted above - a further clarification about our choices - we were very influenced by start time (need a later one) and access by public transit (only one car) so that's why Jose Ortega and others didn't make the first cut. Also, we are pretty flexible with our time and zen about getting our first choices - we have 3 or 4 less popular back ups, and are more than willing to wait through the 1st month of the school year.

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  16. Is this list totally bereft of people who live outside Noe/Bernal/Castro, etc? For example, I've only seen Yick Wo listed once or twice here, and it's certainly on any objective outsider's list of top diverse excellent schools, if you don't want immersion.

    I mean rooftop rooftop clarendon clarendon grattan grattan miraloma sherman mckinley.... blah blah blah.

    I'd send my kid to Yick Wo any day over those.

    I still think we need to look beyond the top 20 names that keep popping up, but scores and diversity do count for something.

    Are there any Russian Hill, North Beach, downtown people on this list???

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  17. We only considered schools that are close to our home or close to the bus that takes me to work. I'm a firm believer in the "good student will excel at an OK school" philosophy.

    1. George Peabody
    2. Sutro
    3. Grattan (bit out of our way, and I really dislike the early start, but we LOVED the place)
    4. Frank McCoppin
    5. Argonne (not too happy about year-round but will deal)
    6. New Traditions

    We couldn't come up with a #7. Figured if we didn't get any of our 6 choices, we'll check out whatever we're assigned with fresh eyes and/or get onto a waiting list.

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  18. We're trying for first grade so I think odds anywhere are pretty random and will depend on how many kids, if any, leave after K and how many private and public K families try to switch.
    Clarendon 2nd Community
    Grattan
    McKinley
    Lilienthal GE
    RL Stevenson
    Harvey Milk

    Shoot I can't remember what we listed between Stevenson and Harvey Milk. Probably something reasonably close to home.

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  19. I posted before, but here it is again:
    Jose Ortega (M)
    West Portal (it's our neighborhood school, for what little that's worth as a #2)
    Miraloma
    Feinstein
    Commodore Sloat
    Alvarado (Gen)(yes, filling out the list)
    Ulloa
    You don't need to tell me this is likely a recipe for 0/7, but these are the choices we made, and we're keeping our fingers crossed...

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  20. i think if you list jose ortega 1st, you have a shot. remember, the mandarin progs will save 50% of spots for mandarin speakers in round 1. so, you have just as good a shot in round 2 by listing JOES M or SK M as first.

    take it from me... i listed SK M on every round last year - R1, R2 and waitpool and never got it b/c i never listed it first in R1 or R2.

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. We speak spanish at home- we'll see if
    that actually counts for anything.

    We chose schools close to our home.

    miraloma
    clarendon 2nd comm
    west portal
    feinstein
    alvarado
    comm. sloat
    rooftop (to fill in a 7th spot)

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  23. I'm a firm believer in the "good student will excel at an OK school" philosophy.

    Great to know that you already know you have a good student at the tender age of 4.

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  24. stupid snark....we all knew what she (or he) meant.

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  25. 8:28 -- just curious why you feel that speaking Spanish at home should give you a priority? You seem to be well educated and at least middle class in terms of income. (This is not necessarily meant against you personally since the district set up this ridiculous system and you are just putting down what is technically correct).

    The district should really based then new system/lottery on socio-economics -- do child need Section 8 housing, free lunch, homeless (or kids in transition), etc. And leave it at that.

    There are plenty of well educated foreigners who speak English well enough to get a job that puts them in the middle class or affluence (in fact, I would say most of the educated foreigners would not stay in this country if they did not have a high paying job, because they put up with a lot of crap that they may not have to deal with in their own country back home).

    Sorry to be off topic, but is just irritating to those that are unfortunate enough to be born here in US or at least be speaking English at home and are not middle class, not affluent, not of "educated" parents. These are becoming the disenfranchised but well the bureacrary is about 10-20 years behind.

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  26. English speaking family in mid-Richmond here.

    Lafayette
    Alamo
    Dianne Feinstein
    Peabody
    Argonne
    Grattan
    Clarendon

    Proximity figures strongly in our choices but I just could not stomach the chaos at Jefferson, so we left it off of the list. Lafayette is really our first choice and my strategy is to sign up for that waitpool after Round 1 and just stick with it until the cows come home.

    Grattan and Clarendon were just list fillers (although great schools, obviously). Alamo is 4 blocks away but we figure it's hopeless and we liked Ruby Brown at Lafayette so much, that given the numbers we definitely felt it made more sense to put the less popular school in the first slot to maximize our chances.

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  27. Annette-
    My child is in first grade at Lafayette and we have been very happy at the school. Good luck!

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  28. Hi Annette- Are you speaking of the construction chaos at Jefferson or another kind of chaos there that I'm not aware of? Just curious since it's our #1 choice (being 3 blocks away from our home) and I've heard good things about the teachers there.

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  29. hey 11:08

    Yes, the construction chaos. I realize that this is shortsighted and probably to some extent superficial, but one of my particular defects is that I am completely unable to imagine spaces differently from how they presently look. Beyond the construction, the physical plant looked incredibly worn. I'm sure when the construction is finished and it gets that new coat of paint things will be much better.

    Also, honestly, the lack of organization to the tour really made it hard for me to evaluate. Without a guide, I didn't feel that I had permission to visit the classrooms in progress, and so I couldn't really get a good sense of the place. It also made me wonder a bit about the principal's leadership and parent participation.

    The school obviously has some very strong pluses with consistently high API scores, a seemingly diverse population ,and garden space in the courtyard. My particular combination of mental and social weaknesses just resulted in a negative reaction after this tour.

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  30. Thanks, Annette for your comments on Jefferson. I do see physical potential for the school (being an space planner in my previous life), but I agree with your assessment of the leadership there. I do have reservations about the principal. I think he's been there abut 2 years and the word around about him is that he's a nice guy, but not very tough in term of getting things done (though I heard he did secure a pretty sizable grant). I also heard that the students are starting to get a little lacks (less disciplined?) due to the soft side of his leadership (apparently the previous principal was a real ball buster). I hope I'm wrong about that. I want my kid to have discipline. Any Jefferson parents out there like to comment about Victor Tam?

    But when I toured, I was lucky enough to meet a very enthusiastic volunteer parent who was there to answer questions and she gave a small group of us an informal tour and we were able to enter some of the classrooms. (I think if we got this school, I would like to volunteer to give some tours or organize a tour program.) Interestingly, she mentioned and also is noted on the brochure that the PTA there raised $70K last year. And had some carry over from last year as well. So, apparently there are a lot of parents participating in some way. She mentioned that it's very community oriented which really was a plus for me and (sans the temporary barriers) felt very intimate. I just hope it's not a school that's slowly heading downhill, but I guess that's where some new motivated parent blood is important. Oh well, who knows. I listed RLS second (I heard fantastic things about this school) so, I'll leave it up to fate I guess...

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  31. Annette and most recent anonymous poster, my husband had the same reservations as you both (he did the tour, I couldn't make it). We met Principal Tam at the SFUSD enrollment fair back in November and thought that he was a very nice guy. However, it does seem like he's not the ballbusting type. My husband was not impressed with the self-guided tour structure and questioned (to me later) whether it posed a security issue. He also thought Principal Tam was "sheepish" and was not as strong of a leader as a few of the other principals we've met, such as Carol Fong at Ulloa. But he ran into a school parent on his way out and they had a positive conversation about the school. This does appear to be a school strongly driven by the parents. In terms of the physical plant, my husband thought that it was by far the most worn looking school he had toured, but that can be changed.

    To be honest, RLS became my first choice after the tour - the teachers we met were great and I liked the principal because she is about the kids and was easy to approach. She spent 10 years as Clarendon's principal before transferring to RLS four or five years ago. (anyone want to comment on her tenure there?) All of the kids that we saw were well-behaved, even at the fourth and fifth grade level. But CS won out because of convenience and proximity to our future neighborhood and that it's right off the K line. Being a one car family, proximity to public transportation is crucial.

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  32. Just my 2 cents/view from my tour of Jefferson - I wasn't too sure about the location before touring because I was not keen on the mess (having driven by beforehand) from the construction, but also view this as a good thing. Many of the schools in the district have yet to undergo these required re-vamps, so, I felt I should give this school a chance because by the time my child is there, there could be less disruption than in a school undergoing ADA revisions when she is there.

    The self-guided tour didn't bother me (I do prefer a more personal touch), but compared to the self-guided tour at Alamo (with 75 parents mulling about), it was nice to be able to walk into a classroom and not be in a pack. I went into several classrooms and several teachers introduced themselves, were warm, and let me watch them in action. I also like the fact that the kinder classes have their own bathrooms. Yes, the school does look old and the first floor hallway felt dark. But, the children seemed well cared for, engaged, and the classrooms were tidy. I also went outside and watched the kinder classes on recess and was able to see them make use of their garden area. I'm not keen on the setting (19th being so busy), but it felt safe.

    I also met the librarian - she was lovely. Though the library was not open (renovating) she was so enthusiastic and excited about her new facility, definitely an upbeat positive personality. While under construction, she makes rounds to each classroom. She is also there full-time (not 2-3 days per week, like many schools).

    The meeting at the end with the principal was the weak spot. He did come across a nervous/meek and I was put off by him having us watch a video before he would talk with us. He said he has 3 kids (all in SFUSD), wife is a SFUSD teacher, and I felt like he would be someone who my child would be comfortable talking to/listening to. Prior to the tour I also watched him on the playground with the kids and parents and he was involved/engaged. He did not make much eye contact in the tour meeting and didn't seem comfortable, but this was not a deal breaker for me.

    What reassured me was on the tour, I met a really nice couple who were in a class saying goodbye to their son. They stopped and talked with me for a good while - they also have an older daughter at the school and have been there through the transition of principals. They said he is a good principal, but he's just not comfortable with tours - they did say he's great with the kids and that he's trying. They also reiterated a sense of family/community and that they've been really happy there throughout.

    That said...this school made #4 on our list. I'll still wait list and hold out for our #1 school, but, I did feel that Jefferson has a promising future and campus.

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  33. Just to add to my above post, here's our list:

    Peabody
    Sutro
    Francis Scott Key
    Jefferson
    Lafayette
    Alamo
    Argonne

    We're in the mid-Richmond @ 25th and though the SFUSD staff advised me Alamo is our "neighborhood" school, thus + a point, we felt strongly about our top choice. Here's hoping.

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  34. McKinley
    Miraloma
    Clarendon JBBP
    Grattan
    Alvarado Gen
    Clarendon 2nd
    Rooftop
    (last two are list fillers)

    We figured even though Miraloma was our favorite, we'd make our first choice a school super close to home that was warm, inviting and maybe attainable. Worst case, we'll wait pool for McKinley or Miraloma into September, if we have to.
    Good luck everyone!

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  35. January 24, 2009 2:21, here again. Thanks, Elizabeth and Anon 4:28 for more feedback on Jefferson. I think overall, I feel comfortable if my son gets Jefferson. Location is the biggest thing since I like the walk-ability of it. We only have one car and I have a younger son who will be going to preschool soon (also nearby). I also like the community atmosphere at the school. I personally will volunteer more at Jefferson due to the fact it's only 3 blocks away. I know Caroline mentioned that parents who have fought to get into a school that may be further away will have more at stake to put in more, but I can't help but wonder if that's necessarily true since they might have fought so hard to get there, because they know it's already "there" (meaning, "successful")? But, everyone has a different motivation for why they chose their school. Good luck everyone!

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  36. I have extensive up-close and personal experience with a school that had an ineffectual principal who was an absolute charmer on tours -- she bowled parents over. But she was a weak leader and her competence was dubious. The school did well despite her, not because of her. The charm did help offset the weak points, because at least she was always pleasant to deal with.

    So I'm just adding that note on judging schools by their principals -- or rather, judging schools by their principals' charisma factor.

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  37. We based our selection first on district, specifically Sunset and Richmond Districts, and then a site visit, and reviews and diversity on Great Schools. Though immersion was of interest, we didn't make it a priority.

    Alice Fong Yu
    Clarendon JBBP
    Clarendon GEN
    Dianne Feinstein
    Argonne
    Rooftop
    Alamo

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  38. outer mission, engl speakers:
    sloat
    lakeshore
    joes MI
    sunnyside
    fairmount
    sunset
    starr king mi

    balancing location, start time, academic rigor, parent activity, our interest in language...

    basically by the time it was "TIME" to make the list, my head was swimming. I feel Great about all of them! Hope we all get good news in March.

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  39. No-car Sunset family with two parents working in the Financial District whose tours mainly covered the Sunset (outer and inner) and Richmond (outer and inner):

    1. Grattan (loved the principal - great philosophy - and the guy who runs the computer lab was the only one to convince me that a computer lab COULD matter in a child's education)
    2. Jefferson (a location decision, and my son knows a couple of kids already going there; but I'll say that I, too, have reservations about the principal)
    3. Sunset (again, my son knows a couple kids there, the PTA made an impression on me at the JCC kindergarten night last year, and the PTA and principal really seem to be in sync)
    4. Peabody (the principal seems like a fantastic, common-sense leader; definitely a school on the rise, but it's a tough haul us from a transportation standpoint)
    5. McKinley (my initial impression was not good, especially of the new principal, but talking to some parents convinced me to put it on the list)
    6. Lafayette (if this wasn't so far out for our dual commute, it would have been higher; the developing theme of my list: good prinicipal = inspired teachers = solid education)
    7. Miraloma (it was a choice between this and McCoppin)

    Others I'd be happy with: Ulloa (the first school I toured, liked the principal's attitude); Sherman; McCoppin

    Wish I would have toured: Stevenson; West Portal (just because I've heard so much about it); Feinstein; Francis Scott Key; Redding; Garfield; Spring Valley; Commodore Sloat

    Schools I hope get some attention: Sutro (something felt wrong - can't put my finger on it); Chin (so convenient for my work, but so lacking in resources)

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  40. Sherman
    Clarendon
    Clarendon 2nd
    Lilenthal
    Grattan
    Rooftop
    Yick Wu

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  41. I'm coming in very late to the thread, but thought I'd contribute and see what the feedback is.

    My daughters and I will be moving to the Inner Richmond/Laurel Heights area this June. My ex-H, lives in SF (South Beach area) and we used his addy in anticipation of our move.

    We did the dream list, because truthfully, figured that we would not get any. Back up for us is St. Anne in the Sunset for both Grammar and preschool.

    Shooting for entrance into 4th grade, have no idea of the chances at this level ...

    1. Alamo (know teachers & family that have attended)
    2. Argonne
    3. Lawton
    4. Lafayette (thought this might be a good chance school)
    5. Robert Stevenson
    6. Sunset
    7. Ulloa

    I'm sure I'll be flamed, but as I said, we're 99% certain we'll have to send the kids to St. Anne and we aren't Catholic.

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  42. ^^Thanks!!

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  43. 1) Harvey Milk
    2) Rooftop
    3) Miraloma
    4) Grattan
    5) Commodore Sloat
    6) Alvarado GE
    7) Sunnyside

    I found Harvey Milk to be a gem and cannot wait for my daughter to go there:) (I feel like chances are pretty good since we put it first). It is so fun to see everyone's choices.

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  44. I went for proximity with the Chinese Imersion thrown in at number 4.

    Alamo (how amazing would it be to only have to walk a block and a half to school)
    Argonne
    Lafayette
    Chinese Imersion
    Peabody
    Sutro
    Jefferson

    If we don't get in, I will probably wait list Argonne for the year round bonus.

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  45. Outer Richmond, English speakers, with preschool, no other diversity factors. When we finally just had to make the list because it's due, like, today, I must have scribbled 10 permutations. But the thing is, we still want certain schools, and we can't win the lottery if we don't play. So here it is, no changing it now...

    1. AFY
    2. West Portal
    3. Stevenson
    4. JOES MI
    5. Peabody
    6. Lafayette (attendance area)
    7. De Avila

    ...and no complaining if we go 0/7.

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  46. Amendment to my 10:00 list: West Portal ImmC

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