Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hot topic: underenrolled schools

The following from an SF K Files reader:
I would be interested in finding out where people end up -- i.e., those who went 0/7 in the public school lottery and who didn't get into any of the independent schools they applied to. Specifically, I'd like to know: (1) the name of the school (2) what they like about the school and (3) whether the school still has openings for the Fall (especially for kindergarten).

This could be a way for people to find out about under-enrolled schools and provide some choices for those who are still dissatisfied with their options.

41 comments:

  1. We went 0/7 (actually 0/15) last year and ended up at Rosa Parks JBBP. We love it! The Japanese is fantastic and the kindergarten teachers are awesome. There most likely will be some spots in Open Enrollment because they've just opened up a 3rd JBBP kindergarten for next year.

    The school has many positive things I wasn't aware of before we ended up there (art, science, new huge greening grant, wonderful parents and community), and also some mixed things --some of the teachers have gotten mixed reviews from parents (though I suppose that's true of any school). The principal is not going to be returning next year, so we're keeping our fingers crossed, and --I have to say-- the community of parents has been kept largely in the dark about this new development and we really don't know what the process will be to choose/assign a new principal.

    I urge you to tour Rosa Parks, if you haven't already! It's a warm, rich, lovely school!

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  2. I should say, the teachers at JBBP who've gotten the mixed reviews have NOT been kindergarten teachers, they are wonderful!

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  3. Does anybody know where Monica Nagy is going after Rosa Parks? She really impressed me. I'm sorry the school will be losing her.

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  4. I suspect that our assigned school (Sutro) is underenrolled. It was one of our 7 choices though. We have noticed that only 5 people made it a first choice, and nobody seems to have waitlisted it (Sutro is not on the Waiting Pools document). I don't understand it at all -- apparently has a good staff, low turnover, committed principal, very good test scores, and has won a title one academic achievement award 6 years running. I keep wondering if everyone else knows something I don't know. Sutro has virtually no buzz and IMO everything going for it.

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  5. I think it simply didn't look that good on the tours this year because of ongoing construction. I was very impressed by the teachers...

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  6. Sutro is on my R II ammended list...the building(s) itself...and that includes it's near neighbours, McCoppin and Peabody (as I'm writing this I am well aware how terribly picky I was being) were off-putting In Round I, during my tour the classrooms felt dim, small, cramped, maze-like). Toured again for R II and realized how wonderful a small school really is.

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  7. By the way, one of the parents at Rosa Parks posted a video of the awesome JBBP cherry blossom festival parade song/dance. What an amazing day and celebration of our school community! Check it out:

    http://jbbp.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/parade-video-2009/

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  8. I felt the same way about Sutro. It seems like it should be much more popular than it is and I, too, wondered if others knew something I didn't.

    Regardless, we put it as #2 on our Round 2 amended list. It would have been #1 had it not been for the location (we live in Inner Sunset and don't want to navigate through the park twice/day).

    #1 on our amended list is New Traditions, which is another school that seems like it should be more popular than it is. It is a tiny school, I think the smallest in the district at only 190 or so students. I love that it integrates art into the project-based cirriculum... it kind of reminded me of a mini Rooftop in that regard. I'm not sure if they're at full enrollment capacity right now. 5 people were shown to be wait listing it back in early April according to the April 6th data.

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  9. I don't get the question. If I'm correct, you should know that a school is under enrolled because not enough people applied. If you apply to a school and there is space, you will get it.

    Try Malcolm X. It's under enrolled, gets a 0 out of 10 on most websites.

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  10. Kortney, I think it is an attempt to raise up the profiles of schools that are not yet popular but really are hidden gems. Hence Rosa Parks and Sutro being mentioned. These could be good options for people who are still looking (for whatever reason), or for savvy parents starting the search for next year. I assume you are being snarky about Malcolm X being in this category? The point is, not all under-enrolled schools are the same, and at this stage that is an important distinction for parents to make.

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  11. GRRRRR I HATE THE EPC
    I called and asked when the new waitpool list will be posted and was told it won't be posted until next week.

    WHY? Do they not have it.

    Don't they realize I've been waiting since Jan 10th for this list? grrrrrr

    I want to know which schools do not have a wait list.

    I'm tempted to call back and YELL at someone, but I'm not sure what good that would do.

    Sorry for my rant, I just feel its better to put it here than to yell at my coworkers.

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  12. Kortney, you realize that if we return to neighborhood school zones, you could still be assigned to Malcolm X, right?

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  13. Please, please, PLEASE can we keep this thread from becoming another one where we just end up attacking (then defending, then attacking again) someone who posts a non-anonymous comment? Pretty please?? As I tell my soon to be kinder when he starts arguing with his little brother, "Do you have to fight about EVERYTHING your little brother said?"

    Re the original topic, I'm currently assigned to JOES GE. I'm anxious to learn whether I'll get my wait pool school, but I'm at a place now where I can accept the JOES assignment. Like the person who said s/he can see the benefits of a small school like Sutro, I can see the benefits of a small school like JOES. We're lucky, too, b/c the logistics work for us -- we wanted an early start time school in the first place, and my husband drives to the peninsula and so can drop him off before work. I'm starting to feel as if this will all work out....even though I'm dying to see what arrives in the mail tomorrow!

    Oh, and I totally feel your pain, SFMOM! I heard the same thing from EPC today, and I was really surprised -- they were so on the ball about posting Round I and waitpool info.

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  14. This thread is a great opportunity for people who have spent time at some of the schools that are not completely full to share information that will be much appreciated by those of us who expect to go 0/15--and why would I expect anything else? If a school is mentioned and sounds promising, you can visit, look at the SARC and see how kids in your child's demographic are doing, etc. . . . and perhaps be pleasantly surprised, take a spot and have done with your stress. "Underenrolled" does not automatically mean "unacceptable,"as the families who gave Rosa Parks JBBP a shot last year know. Let's stay on topic please.

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  15. Officially 0/22May 1, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    I'm not at all surprised about the EPC and not posting the waitpools until next week (though it clearly states on the April waitpool list that the new list, along with approved appeals, will be posted May 1st!

    Those of us applying for 1st grade (and up) this year were kept waiting for weeks for data that never (ever) was released by the EPC about applications and spaces after Round I. The EPC releases the Round I data the Friday that letters go out because it also releases stats that are spun to show percentages of students receiving assignments etc (ie with sibling applications included). Round II and beyond are so under the radar that they don't have the same incentive to release data. Last year I remember it felt that we, having gone 0/7 and then 0/15, were consigned to some other world where no one cared and no one was responsive.

    Hoping it will be different this year, but not holding my breath!

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  16. To Rosa Parks JBBP parent at 3:39 PM (April 30):

    At a minimum, you should speak with Principal Nagy after drop off on Monday and ask her about the process to find her replacement. What is the timeline, interview process, selection process, etc. Ask her how parents can get involved. Also, you should contact your PTA president, site council president, and any other committee that is engaged in the running of your school to ask the same questions. Perhaps there is a lot happening and you are just out of the loop.

    That being said, parents may not know that they CAN and SHOULD be involved with the selection of the new principal. At Miraloma, when Ms. Parrot was preparing to retire, the parent community voiced their interest in being a part of the interview and selection process, and the district allowed the school to select 3 (I think) parents to participate in the process, which worked something like this. A slate of candidates was proposed by the district, and individual interviews were conducted by the parents and a team from the district. The goal was to select a candidate to fill the upcoming vacancy. It is important to point out that other schools were interviewing the same candidates, so there was no guarantee that you would get your choice. If you didn’t like anyone who was presented in the first slate of candidates, then you could request another slate of candidates; however, if you didn’t like anyone in the second slate, YOU COULD NOT GO BACK TO THE FIRST SLATE. A candidate whom the Miraloma parents liked a lot was submitted as their first choice, but the candidate was also requested by another school that was considered in greater need, so the other school got that person as their new principal.

    So back to the drawing board. Of course, at this point, all the Miraloma parents assumed that all the good candidates were taken, and it would be a hopeless endeavor. Well, lo and behold, another slate was presented to the Miraloma parents, and this time the parents requested Ron Machado. And guess what? He was assigned to Miraloma, and he’s the best principal ever!!!

    Moral of the story: there are many good candidates in the SFUSD. Parents CAN and SHOULD be involved in the interview and selection process. The process is long and time consuming, so pick parents whom you know and trust for this critical responsibility. It can take more than one round to find your match (kinda sounds like the kindergarten lottery, doesn’t it!). Don’t select a vocal parent who will submarine the effort with a hidden agenda or a parent who will quit midstream because of the time commitment.

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  17. To respond to the original post, we were assigned to choice #7 - Rosa Parks JBBP. We did not get into the private schools we applied to. We debated participating in Round 2 or waitlisting at one of our top choices but decided against it after learning more about RP JBBP and meeting current parents and parents of other incoming kinders. We are very excited about the opportunity and are taking a leap of faith that this was what was meant for our family. This information about the principal is new to me, but hopefully no cause for concern.

    As noted, they are adding a new JBBP classroom so I urge anyone interested to check it out!

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  18. we went 0/17 and 0/15 (and on and on...) last year. we ended up at daniel webster and are happy. there are things we don't love, but we are happy for the most part.

    we like...
    1. spanish immersion
    2. small school - everyone knows one another
    3. good teachers and support staff
    4. sunny, safe neighborhood
    5. ethnic and class diversity
    6. things changing/improving every week

    i believe the school has space for spanish speaking kinders. at the start of the year, i bet there will be movement for english speakers as well. good school to waitlist.

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  19. Does anyone have any thoughts about New Traditions? The post-round-1 wait list showed space available in our grade, it seemed acceptable, and it's walkable, so we listed it as our Round 2 #1 after our wait pool choice. Reviews on Great Schools.net seem all over the map with not a lot of recent reviews following a principal transition a few years ago. Is the new (around 2004) principal who garnered a number of negative comments back then still there? Is she better? How is the parent community these days? We had a couple of friends turn it down because they didn't like it, but it seemed to be a "vibe" thing for them. Our preschool teacher said it would be too strict for our kid but honestly we liked only schools she thought would be too strict for him. He's been a private school with high behavior expectations but also lots of directed daily physical activity that helps settle him and a situation where he can move around even in academic subjects when he gets fidgety without being considered disruptive. He's a math and science boy. (We could not imagine the commute to Spring Valley.) Any perspectives would be helpful.

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  20. This is second hand, but I have met a couple of families who love New Traditions, including one where both parents are teachers (at other schools - I think maybe other districts and older kids). I have heard it is a small and warm feeling and so all the teachers and principals know the kids. It is also one of the more diverse schools in the District.

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  21. The SFUSD round two letters were mailed today. Fasten your seatbelts.

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  22. I know someone at New Traditions who pulled their child out part way through the year 2 years ago (so this is old and 2nd hand). They had a bad experience with their kinder teacher who was new (and not good). She said most of the folks she had met had left by the end of the year. Again this is old info and I don't know how much was the school and how much was the teacher. The family has been very happy with their new SFUSD school that is popular but not a "trophy" school so they're not the type that is always complaining.

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  23. i met a woman whose child is at NT. she came from private (SF waldorf kinder) and said she was very happy there. i've heard good things about the school from lots of parents.

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  24. Dear 4:15pm Miraloma parent:

    Thanks! That's very helpful.

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  25. 5:05 pm:
    Have you toured New Traditions? We loved it and have it as our #1 on our Round 2 list.

    I have been emailing with one of the New Traditions PTA parents about the school. I had the same questions about the principal. The parent said that they haven't had any issues with the current principal. I even questioned the API scores (in the 700 range) and asked why they weren't higher because their Grade 5 Science scores are incredible, the highest I've seen in the district at 89% of the students being at or above proficient. (!!!!) The parent forwarded my email to the principal. The principal emailed me and told me she'd love to talk to me about it... I just haven't had the time time call her about it yet.

    On the tour, the principal said that they've been getting a lot more parent participation & involvement in the past year.

    I loved that the school is very arts-based and has a large art classroom as well as an on-site kiln.

    The school is very clean and well-kept. I liked that the school had a large auditorium/cafeteria.

    There is one full kinder classroom as well as a kinder/1st grade split classroom. The full kinder classroom teacher is young but very energetic, seems passionate about teaching, and is great with the kids (from what I observed on my tour). I had actually met this particular teacher at the elementary school fair last fall.

    I don't know as much about the other kinder teacher.

    Also during my tour, there was an upper grade teacher (4th grade, I think) that was there on his day off helping the substitute teacher. I thought that he was obviously going above and beyond the call of duty and that it showed that he was a very dedicated teacher.

    I had a good feeling about the school and was impressed with the teachers and the principal.

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  26. What school is JOES? I know I can look it up by the time someone posts the answer but it seems easier to use a few more letters in the school name to help some of us out a little more.

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  27. JOES is Jose Ortega.

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  28. JOES=Jose Ortega

    Surprised to hear principal of Rosa Parks is leaving. When we toured there after being assigned Rosa Parks after Round 1 (0/7) she made it sound like she was really dedicated to the school. She was one of the reasons we considered staying with that assignment. Bummer. They're losing a good thing if that rumor is true.

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  29. I do believe that Rosa Parks is fully enrolled. Sorry about the snarky comment--we are assigned to Malcolm X. It is an under enrolled school.

    Up and coming, hidden gems are full, too, but without long waitlists, no?

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  30. 12:15
    first of all, no one is asking for just neighborhood zones (how many times have i said this?)

    secondly, Malcolm X is not in my neighborhood. There are 15 schools closer to me.

    but i appreciate your point. AND if Malcolm X was in my neighborhood, it would also be in my neighbors neighborhood--so it's likely my neighbors and I would have all known in advance we would be assigned there and would have started fundraising and volunteering there years ago.

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  31. I know some happy parents at New Traditions. Can we connect you so you can get info first hand? Let us know how we can help.

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  32. "AND if Malcolm X was in my neighborhood, it would also be in my neighbors neighborhood--so it's likely my neighbors and I would have all known in advance we would be assigned there and would have started fundraising and volunteering there years ago."

    That's great that you'd be willing to do that, but realistically, I think most of us would rather try to move to a neighborhood with better "zone" schools or just leave the city instead.

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  33. How about Bessie Carmichael over in SOMA. That's a K-8 school in a very new facility. Seems scores on up the upswing too.

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  34. When we toured NT, we were just not impressed with the K/1st split grade teacher whom my daughter would have gotten since she misses the cutoff by only 2 weeks. The teacher seemed like she had very little command of the classroom. She also seemed tired & completely overwhelmed by the rowdy kids. We liked the art teacher, though, and the school seemed small and cozy. If it wasn't for the K/1 teacher, we might have accepted our assignment there.

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  35. Thanks for feedback on New Traditions. We got DeAvila Chinese Immersion in Round 2. On the one hand it's exciting to think of being part of a new school. On the other hand, the feeling I got when I went to one of the meetings for prospective parents was that the focus would be on meeting the needs of Cantonese-speaking immigrants, not English speakers. Maybe I was just burned out and not being open enough.

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  36. De Avila is a Chinese immersion school with 80% of the instructions in Cantonese, 20% in English. While I can see how one might think such a composition is to meet the needs of immigrants who don't speak English well, I personally think it's meeting the needs of the English speaking kids who wish to learn a second language, by "immersed" in the language. Without being immersed in the language, it would be very difficult to learn it well. In other words, it defeats the purpose of an "immersion school" if the instructions were provided in English, or a breakdown such as 70% English 30% target language.

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  37. 4:45--It'll be fine. Your kid will learn another language and culture and do fine in other areas. Most of the kids at DeAvila will be high-achieving, even the low-income ones. There will be bumps as with any new program, but I advise you to keep an open mind and heart. Seriously, I think you really got lucky!

    --current language immersion parent of a 4th grader in another school

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  38. My friend is volunteering at Bessie Carmichael, going to SFSU credential program in the fall. He loves it there. Happy kids, good teachers, organized administration.

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  39. Thanks for comments on DeAvila.

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  40. To anyone who is still looking, Rosa Parks JBBP did open a third k class and because of that, now has about 8 spots left. If anyone still needs a school, I'm hoping it will be a great one!
    The JBBP program has actually been around for 35 years and has a very strong parent community. We are taking the leap of faith for our daughter and excited about the possibilities...

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