Monday, March 16, 2009

Hot topic: Lottery for first grade and up

An SF K Files visitor suggested that I start the following strand:

"I've been pouring over the "round I letters" post the past two days and wonder if you might make a separate post for people who entered the lottery for 1st -5th grade. My impression is no one got a 1st grade lottery pick this round, but I'd love to have a smaller forum (maybe really small, the past 1st grade forums have tended to get hijacked into other kindergarten matters) to check that out!"


  1. I posted in the kinder thread: we played the 2nd grade lottery and went 0/7. We only want to move out of our private school if we get a K8 school, because our kids are three years apart in school and it would necessitate the stress of playing the middle school lottery two separate times (no sibling preference). Otherwise we're looking at moving across the bay to Albany where we would know where both our kids would go to school through high school! So we didn't have a lot of hope in round 1 to get a 2nd grade spot in a K8. We got assigned New Traditions, which seems like a sweet school, but it's arts-focused curriculum isn't great for my kid who is really math-focused. So we won't register there, we'll wait to see if we somehow, by a miracle, get a K8.

  2. Actually, the middle school lottery is much less stressful than the kindergarten lottery. Virtually every kid I knew last year got their first choice of middle school (I have a sixth grader). I think that over 80% get one of their choices, and there are many fewer that can take advantage of sibling preference for middle school. Also, there are a lot of kids who really don't want to continue in K-8 schools for middle school. They like a bigger pool of peers and advantages like real PE classes and comprehensive music programs.

  3. 0/7 for 1st grade. Daniel Webster again for the 2nd year in a row as we also did the K lottery last year as well and got DW. Makes this whole "lottery" concept a bit suspect.

  4. we didn't get anything for our first-grade app either. i personally have two friends who also reapplied for first and went 0/7. one who doesn't post here was assigned to sheridan. they live in glen park.

  5. 0/7 for 1st grade lottery. We were assigned for the second year to John Muir, so will probably continue with our private school and not eat for the next few months.

  6. I'm certain that you won't see much happening in the first rgade lottery until summer or the start of the school year.

  7. 1.27pm: I'm sure you're right. Sadly we have to commit to our private in the next week. I guess we could commit and then duck out if we get assigned to a public we want, but I think that means we'd still be in for the year's tuition. Long term saving, of course, but it would still hurt!

  8. Please note the student assignment system for NEXT YEAR can be CHANGED! This opportunity exists for the next month - when the Board of Ed decides on the new system.
    PLEASE sign the petition for neighborhood schools along with any personal comments/suggestions you may have at:

  9. Did 1st grade lottery -- also got Daniel Webster GE for 2nd year in a row. Sticking to private for now.

  10. To the middle school poster above (March 16 at 10:08 am), I'm interested in understanding better the process for middle schools. We put down Hoover, AP, and Roosevelt and just got a letter saying we got into Lick. I'm going to look at the place, but I'm wondering whether I'm alone in not getting one of my picks. Should I have put more schools down? Are the middle schools all pretty much the same or should I be concerned? I can see that Lick's test scores are not great, but, frankly, neither is my kid's - so would it be OK? Is it possible to get into a different middle school in later rounds?

  11. My twins are entering 2nd Grade and they are currently in private school. We went 0/7 and were assigned to Jose Ortega GE.

    I saw the following on the District Website:

    ... "It may also be necessary to expand class size in grades 1-3. We will make that determination for Round 2 assignments, and during the summer, as new families may request spots in these grades."

    I plan to attend the info session on Thursday night and ask for clarification. If they expand class sizes for Round 2, we should all have much better luck.

    Has anyone else heard anything more definitive about the possibility of class size increases in Grades 1-3?

  12. 4:21, yeah, 20-20 hindsight, more schools would have improved your odds, esp given you put AP, Hoover. You are one of the few I've heard of who didn't get a spot--ouch, sorry, not meaning to rub salt or anything.

    It is possible to get a school in later rounds and is worth a try. Same deal as with elementary--some will go private, there will be movement.

    Still, check out James Lick. You can see that enrollment has improved year by year. Active parent base, lots of energy, great community, interesting "extra" programs compared to other schools. So, so worth a look. I know folks who put it FIRST on their lists, for both SI and GE.

    Good luck

  13. This is an interesting coincidence. We didn't like the school we received for Kindergarten (Sheridan elementary). But ended up sending our daughter to private school. We did the enrollment process again and we got the same school assignment as last year (Sheridan again). I just found out that someone I know who does not live in SF (using a relative's address) got a school of her choice.

  14. Haven't seen anyone ask but for whatever it's worth, the second grade level (next years 3rd grade) at Grattan has always had vacancies.

  15. Got Lafayette for 4th grade. Completely ecstatic with the outcome - expectations were 0/7.

    We did the moon shoot list because of proximity to our home in the Richmond.

    1. Alamo
    2. Argonne
    3. Lafayette
    4. Lawton
    5. Robert S
    6. Sunset
    7. Ulloa

    HOWEVER, after mulling things over the weekend, I'm pretty sure we'll be going with what our back-up was, private Catholic ... for logistical and other family reasons.

    What a incredibly stressful process. I'm still reeling over it and now thinking about the reality of driving 2 kids to school, getting to work, paying bills/school/extended care. I'm a single mom, so it also is a very big factor in my final school decision.


  16. My daughter is in 6th grade at James Lick. This is our family's third middle school (due to an older child with a checkered middle-school history) so I have a basis for comparison when I say this is a lovely school. We're very happy with it.

  17. We didn't get anything for the 1st grade lottery. But I'm not expecting any movement until at least the summer and probably more likely 10 day count. The schools won't know who is repeating a grade until the end of the year. Then I think those spots will open up.

  18. 6:23: interesting! repeating a grade...i never even thought of that as a reason kinders don't show for 1st. how often does that happen, people? (anecdotally or whatever.)

  19. anything about high school enrollments anyone????

  20. We had at least one child repeat K last year at Grattan. There were also at least 3 other K's last year who left mostly due to the families moving out of the city. Of course, this time last year, no one knew any of these moves would happen.

  21. that's very encouraging! no matter how many people tell you that 1st grade changes never happen in round I, it's discouraging as hell to get the letter. again.

  22. 4:21 -
    "I can see that Lick's test scores are not great, but, frankly, neither is my kid's"

    i love that you said this. (yeah, i don't have to bark at my kids to do their homework yet, but i am sure it is coming soon.) sounds like you have your feet on the ground.

    i actually went to the immersion thing tonight at Lick and, man, it is a cool looking school. run down as they all are but cool. we got their early and the kids out front were so polite and said hi to my kindergartners. i know lots of spanish immersion parents have been sitting around with their fingers crossed for spots at this school. i think it is on teh upswing right now. a friend of a friend teaches there and says it is awesome.

  23. we did the first grade lottery and got nothing. i am actually happy i am not faced with choosing between staying at daniel webster and another school. the place has grown on me.

    my thing mostly with DW is the 7:50 time is bad for my teaching schedule. i have to pay for after school care for about 20 minutes a day - such a waste. also i wanted mandarin or cantonese over spanish all along. thought we'd just see what would happen. nothing happened. i have nice little stack of EPC reject letters.

  24. Hmmm. I didn't think about the repeating a grade thing, either! Though I know that a fair amount of kindergarteners who enter as 4 year olds or young 5s do.

    Do you think that if they start opening the 1st grades to 22 (they are already at 21, of course, a much unpublicized fact) they will privilege those requests coming from outside the system?

    I didn't really expect, given the kindergarten situation this year, that there would be a lot of movement this round. But what frustrates me about this is that then it becomes really hard to pick a waitpool school. How do we know which schools are likely to have openings because they have a lot of young kindergarteners who might be held back, or because they have a lot of folks who want to transfer into the DeAvila Cantonese immersion in 1st grade or because they are moving to catholic school or to marin??? We have 3 schools we'd be thrilled about, but do we choose our top one or our nearly top second choice or the one we think is most likely (but we could well be wrong)!

    I'm still thinking that we should try to get the district to allow us to have 3 waitpool schools instead of one, anyone up for that?

    FYI I emailed Archie Fokin today to see about stats for 1st grade and he said they'd be up on the website in a few days.

  25. Jennifer have you considered the new De Avila school? They will have 1st grade and you can get both Cantonese and Mandarin, unless the bunch of parents who plan on turning it into Gen Ed succeed...

    I thought there was talk of changing the start time for Daniel Webster? Is it due to the school bus...

  26. Jennifer have you considered the new De Avila school? They will have 1st grade and you can get both Cantonese and Mandarin, unless the bunch of parents who plan on turning it into Gen Ed succeed...

    I thought there was talk of changing the start time for Daniel Webster? Is it due to the school bus...

  27. a few data points:

    when flynnarado happened last year, asst super linda luevano was at one of the "meetings" and when parents expressed disbelief that SFUSD had not only assigned us all involuntarily to a low-performing school nowhere near the ones we'd been enrolled at and to a program there that did not actually exist, but also to a school that started at 7:50 -- let's call early-start schools a preference niche, shall we? -- she blurted out to me, "well, we'll change the start time." when i pointed out there was also NO SCHOOL BUS to the neighborhoods contiguous to flynn and alvarado, she blurted out (less convincingly) "we'll add one."

    still waiting on that start time change, i guess. somebody better tell linda.

    in her defense, she was trying to please, trying to solve problems...yadda yadda yadda...but it really compounded the breach of trust (making promises they couldn't keep).

    lesson: SFUSD reps will say whatever to get you off their back. i'm afraid they can't really be trusted to tell the truth. unfortunate.

    abby, your questions are, of course, totally reasonable and also insightful -- and will likely never be answered to your satisfaction, right?

    i am DYING to know which schools, if any, they may make 22'ers for 1st...or which are at 21 or will be. what a difference a few slots will make for those of us applying to higher grades!

  28. The JBBP kindergartens at Rosa Parks (and maybe the GE ones, too?) are at 21 (they added a student to each in January).

    I do think that a certain amount of pressure can work when you're not asking for something big of the district (it worked last year for us to get Ks held to 21 if they placed one of the Flynnarado folks there and then someone dropped out). So I have a little bit of hope for the 3 waitpool schools thing... but only if most people want this, which I really don't know (and the truth is, our numbers are way smaller than the numbers of disgruntled 0/7 parents and their supporters last year!)

  29. yes, i am thinking about de avila. first, it is closer to our house. did i mention that we basically drive from ocean beach to potrero hill and back every day? yep! second, it is chinese.

    thing that pisses me off (again) about sfsud is that they added a new program and didn't give everyone equal access to it. (just like how they added the clarendon jbbp class last year and dumped that waitpool in to fill it - hey, i would have waitpooled jbbp if i had known they were adding another 20 new spots!) i believe that there should be a brand new lottery when a new program starts.

    for our first grade list, i only listed mandarin programs since i knew there was no chance for a spot at west portal. so, now, having not listed WP, i was not offered a 1st grade spot at de avila.

    i will go to the meeting and listen. part of me just wants to throw up at the thought of being at ground zero of a new program for another year. we'll see.

  30. kim - when do you think they'll tell if grades 1-2 go to 22?

  31. have they even promised that? really? you know what's funny -- the announcement to the press that K class size had gone up happened well after they must have known about it and run round I, right? par for course, i'd say....

  32. Report from the high school front:

    Many children in the Richmond and the west side did not receive their top choices (Washington and Lincoln) and were assigned to Mission and O'Connel high schools far from home.

    Their parents are up in arms.

  33. Jennifer,

    Do you know what the "back story" was with the principal (from some immersion school) and others at the immersion meeting? Seemed like a lot of strong feelings, differing agendas, etc., but not exactly articulated in a way that gave me much of a clue. And one woman asked about a one-way immersion program that was scheduled to open too (she seemed to think) soon? (De Avila is going to be two-way, right?) Lots of tension in the air, but not sure what it was all about... I felt sorry for the speaker in the crossfire. I wanted the chance (but didn't get it) to ask her what the research shows about immersion in MS. Like, how much time per day should ideally be spent in the target language in middle school. Many of the kids exiting elementary immersion programs don't seem to be very well served (immersion-wise) by the existing middle school options. (Beautiful Art Deco touches in the Lick auditorium, btw...)

  34. A couple of things... I think anyone who wants De Avila, K or 1, can get it after the dust settles. I wouldn't even stress about that part. The other: The schools won't know who is repeating a grade until the end of the year. Wow, this means the district must hold at least one seat per grade through round 2 and a waitpool run or two...

  35. " I just found out that someone I know who does not live in SF (using a relative's address) got a school of her choice.

    Anonymous March 16, 2009 4:41 PM"

    This is exactly why we need school choice!!!! Families will cheat and use fake addresses to get into the neighborhood schools perceived to be better than the rest.

  36. Please report the residency cheater. This is taking a spot away from one of our own San Francico kids. You can do it anonymously.

  37. Hi, I'm the person who posted above whose kid got into Lick. I wanted to ask Jennifer who commented above that she knows a teacher there and that the immersion program is really in demand. My kid would be in gen ed, not immersion. Do you think that Lick's gen ed program is improving too and, if so, how? I'm just wondering because, when I told a couple of parents I was thinking of accepting the assignment, I got raised eyebrows. Any thoughts from Jennifer or anyone else about Lick would be appreciated.

  38. Applying to 1st grade, we're 0/7 and got John Muir. Good luck to us all on round 2!

  39. 2:19 -

    the person i know is a friend of a friend and she is in spanish immersion.

    what i have understood from all the tiny bits of lick info is that the school has a great community and is on the upswing academically. but really, i am clueless - i am in kindergartenland right now.

    10:16 M -

    you know, i left the meeting early because the info wasn't really new to me. i did catch the first interaction between the principal/parents and the speaker. i was sitting in the front, but i think the principal was from monroe.

    i, too, felt uncomfortable for the speaker. i think her job was to come in and tell immersion parents to "relax, it works!" she shouldn't be expected to discuss one school's challenges. i am sure things got hotter after i left at 7pm.

  40. we also went 0/7 in the lottery for first grade. we were assigned to hillcrest. we're trying to figure out how we will afford another year of private school, but have younger sibs, so may be driven out of SF soon, if something good doesn't happen...

  41. My fifth grade daughter put Lick GE as her first choice and got in. She's in Rosa Parks JBBP now and is a GATE kid. Most of our kids end up at Presidio it seems (all but a couple of her classmates are headed there). The reason we looked at it is because a JBBP alumni who's in the 6th grade now absolutely loves it. Despite touring all the "best" middle schools and lots of others in between, my daughter insisted on Lick.

    The alumni kid and his family love it. He's doing very well academically. At first I had some reservation because they don't track their GATE kids separately like they do at Presidio, Gianini, Aptos, Roosevelt, etc. The kids are mixed and the curriculum is tailored to student needs. What really convinced me is a conversation with my daughter's violin orchestra mate and her mom. This girl is a motivated, confident, high achieving kid (best violin player in my daughter's group)and she is very well challenged and thriving.

    Other fringe: the kids have a longer day of school, its a smaller setting, they have rock band, a great arts program, that amazing writers workshop from the mission, sports, afterschool program, and oh, and this may be a little wierd, but their locker rooms: to die for - old school marble, clean, spacious (i'm just saying, the whole p.e. locker room thing can be stressful)

    Hydra Mendoza's kids are at Lick. Deena Zacharin and Sandra Halladay (founders of PPS SF) send their kids there. Something must be really going on, don't you think?

  42. My daughter is GATE-identified and is in 6th grade GE at James Lick. She loves it, and so do I. My son went to a larger middle school with a separate GATE track, and I really prefer the Lick system of integrating kids of all abilities. It's much less of a pressure cooker and my daughter is thriving. She has made huge strides in confidence and being responsible for herself and she is doing very well academically. For the first time ever she feels like she is good at math!

    The arts at Lick are particularly strong. She participated in the school production of "Bye Bye Birdie" and had a great time. The art, music, and dance teachers are wonderful and committed. Because the school day is longer, most students have the opportunity to take two electives a day. The sixth graders rotate through a series of electives that this year included visual art, chorus, dance, logic (mostly math-based puzzles), computer applications including keyboarding, readers theater, and Spanish (for the General Ed track). Not every student got every elective, but I think they each get six different classes over the course of the year.

    It's a very warm community and she feels completely safe and supported there.

  43. where are the upper/in-between grade application statistics archie promised would be up three days ago?! wah!!!!

  44. Just fyi. My co-worker told me her brother is moving back to NYC and his two kids, currently enrolled in Claire Lilienthal GE will be leaving after this semester.

    She thinks they are in the 1st and 4th grade, which means there will probably be a space in the summer waitpool for the 2nd and 5th grade next year... may be off by a grade but the school should know after June...

    Just a heads up.

  45. Hi. So glad to have this stream of thought on the blog.

    Hi Kim.

    We are in a private school (KMS) for Kindergarten. Went 0/7 in the 1st grade lottery, assigned to Malcolm X. NO ONE ELSE has claimed Malcolm X.

    We will plan on staying at KMS for 1st grade and re-entering public school in 2nd grade, which is reportedly easier to get into. We will, however, calmly wait for the 10 day count.


    KMS is a month to month private. It's on Guererro/25th and has an awsome 9-4 school day. It's more expensive than Catholic schools, but less expensive than Synergy. A good deal. They also have an organic kitchen. Until now, all hot meals were free. Next year we'll be charged if we take advantage of the meal prep.

    I'm available to answer questions. It's small (intimate) and goes thru 5th grade. Very creative and the focus is learning thru experience.

    I hate to invited folks to start KMS, and then leave for a public school...because it bums out the staff and kids to watch kids leave. But that was our intention last year, and the school has grown on us in a great way.

    If money were no object, we'd stay put no question.

  46. How many people will stay one more year at their private, if they have to commit a years worth of tuition?

    How many people plan to wait out the 10 day count (which is likely for most of 1st grade lottery families)?

    Kim, are you going to try for SI? Or are you done?

  47. oh, no, we're not done. we'll apply for spanish immersion again in round is wearying, though. it's so natural to invest your heart in where you are, especially if it's, you know, decent/good/very good. but i really feel like we have to stay the course + take the long view for our family and two kids -- and a neighborhood school with immersion serves those needs best.

  48. We have twins going into first grade and as with most of you, we got zip in the 1st grade lottery. They are currently in Spanish Immersion at Marshall and we are trying for a move - mostly to better fit our lives/commute etc. So the question is, where do we expect any openings in 1st grade Sp Imm for English-speakers? Is there any info yet for 1st grade openings? And if so, does it specify English spkr slots vs English learners spots?

  49. Ellen & Nicole,
    What is your take on Paul Revere? Good luck!!