Monday, November 9, 2009

How many kindergarten openings at your school?

Do you know how many openings there are at your school for incoming kindergartners? Click Here to take survey


An SF K Files reader was smart to suggest we start a thread where parents can share how many open kindergarten spots are at their schools--i.e., how many non-sibling spots are available? The reader was kind enough to create a survey on Survey Monkey where parents can enter in the number of spots.

The reader wrote in:
One of the big problems with the school search (both public and private) is the limited availability of information. Your site is the closest thing to a clearinghouse I've seen; PPS-SF and SFUSD are fair, but not great, for public school, and of course there is no central point of contact for private/independent/parochial/other.

The suggestion I have is a specific one: would it be feasible to ask readers to submit whatever information they've garnered about the number of K spots actually available at each school? Sometimes this information is provided in a school tour; other times, no one has the nerve to ask the question, or perhaps the tour is scheduled so early in the process that the sibling numbers aren't in yet. It could save people a lot of time and energy to surface this information relatively early. E.g., last year, I heard that there were something like 3 K spots at Live Oaks; the earlier that fact gets out, the better chance it provides for people to truly evaluate whether it's worth their time to tour a school with such low availability. Similarly, at the SF School open house last week, supposedly the number of K spots was 2. (Total.)

The public schools all seem to have no idea how many siblings might be entering, but perhaps this information is guesstimatable by current parents at those schools/involved in those PTAs? Given the high preference that SFUSD accords for sibling assignment, it seems crazy that they have sibling applications due at the same time and part of the general process as the regular application pool; if people knew in December that, for example, there were only 2 spots left in a given K class, then a lot fewer people would be angry/disappointed about not getting into that school. (Basic PR, right? But PR/managing feelings of the parent community is not something SFUSD has budget or time for.)

Click Here to take survey

Click here to find the survey results

31 comments:

  1. I think this is a great idea!

    It seems to me that SFUSD should require as part of registration each year to list each enrolled student's siblings, both older and younger. It would be a simple matter, and would enable SFUSD to announce at least an expected range of spots by program.

    As for the "SFKfiles as the sibling clearninghouse" idea, again I think that it's awesome. But the game theorist (ie. *not* cynic ;) in me thinks:

    One potential issue to this idea is that it introduces incentives to individual (esp. anonymous) posters to, shall we say, bias the results in their favor. That is, a poster who wanted their child to get into Grattan would have incentive to say there are fewer openings than there actually are so that there would potentially be fewer applicants.

    I doubt this would happen, but it would be cool if you are a PTA member of a school or another clearly credible source that you consider divulging your identity, and perhaps also how you came about your estimate.

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  2. I don't think the parents at a school should be responsible for broadcasting this information--for one thing, they may not be an accurate source.

    I agree with Todd that SFUSD should list the siblings in a sep. category after the school principal reports this to the district.

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  3. I think sibling preference is a good thing, but parents without this preference also need and should have a right to accurate information. But I'm skeptical that this blog could help much with providing more accurate information.

    What could help is if parents with siblings were required to pre-register for this preference. Presumably, they would have known for years that they would be in line for sibling preference and pre-registration would merely be a matter of informing the system and other parents of their needs so that they can accurately plan. Then the siblings would get their preference.

    Also, on a somewhat related topic, wouldn't it be nice to see these applications online? SF Rec & Parks is online as are other City services.

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  4. Totally agree about pre-registration for sibs and putting the info out there;

    Re online applications, I'm all for it except for wondering how they would check your documentation that way, which is the main thing that happens when you go through the line at EPC. People go ballistic over the possibility of cheating, and appearing in person with documentation in hand is one line of defense.

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  5. For sfreconline.org they separate registration and verification. Anyone can register with sfreconline.org, but for popular programs like Camp Mather, they have increasingly strict verification requirements.

    sfreconline.org is one City service that I'm familiar with. That and property taxes. :> My guess is that these issues have been reviewed thoroughly for different services in SF and many other cities & school districts. So I'm confident that there are fair and equitable best practices already available. Making a change like this shouldn't be as contentious as, say, an assignment system redesign or JROTC.

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  6. Regarding kindergarten openings at private schools:

    Most privates won't have completed their estimates until January, well after most of the tours have been completed.

    SF School knows their number quite early. Last year they only had one opening for pre-K and one for K, so I am not surprised to hear it is the same this year.

    Most schools have more openings, but they don't know them until later.

    One or two openings doesn't sound promising and I would probably not put much effort into a school with only one opening.

    However, I think it would be a mistake to shun the application process at a school with something like five or ten spots. Things can change. Persistence and a good attitude pay off.

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  7. SFUSD at one point DID have siblings enroll earlier -not sure why that stopped. With my now-5th grade younger daughter, we registered her in December as an incoming kindergartener (her brother was already at the school.)

    Also, eight years ago, they piloted an online registration (with my now-7th grader.) Not sure what happened to that, either.

    But that year was a disaster as they 'forgot' to program in sibling preference and no siblings were assigned to their older sibs schools!

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  8. I think this forum is great for information sharing, but agree with some of the other posters that a lot of 'facts' from schools are not correct and there is risk spreading incorrect information.

    That said, it should be the role of SFUSD (at the prodding of PPS and others) to do a better job of providing information and real-time data in a transparent matter.

    In many instances, the information isn't published because they don'thave it yet.

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  9. Error, I meant:

    a lot of 'facts' from PARENTS at schools are not correct and there is risk spreading incorrect information.

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  10. Oh boy, 2:46, we applied the same year. I remember that sibling fiasco. Though maybe it helped us get the spot we wanted since we didn't have sibling preference, it was obviously a problem as they had to scramble! Much has improved over the years.

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  11. I'm also in the boat that I wouldn't trust figures coming from anonymous sources on a blog, that have a vested interest themselves in the numbers if they can affect other peoples selections - the SFUSD should just accumulate it and publish it before the lottery forms are due.

    Privates seem to be better at sharing it - yes at the Live Oak open house last year the director freely told me that there were 3 girl spots for K and "a lot" of boy spots (we have a son) where "a lot" to her were 11 or 12. A friend of ours wound up getting one of those girl spots from the waitlist - so it's not impossible.

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  12. SF Unified doesn't have the sibling information until the parent submits an enrollment application for the sibling. These are due at the same time that the new applicats submit. So, there isn't any way for the schools to provide this information prior to Jan.
    In addition, many families leave the city over the summer and do not let the schools know. So, even the secretary and the principal would be guessing.
    And finally, some kids are in the waitpools for other schools - so additional spots could open.

    Long story short, this is not easy to provide in the fall.

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  13. In order to have a sibling preference for an incoming child you would need an older sibling registered and attending school. It seems that SFUSD would have at least that much info in the Fall.

    You're right that SFUSD doesn't determine its sibling count until after the initial applications. So it becomes a chicken and egg problem. It seems that the application system needs modernization.

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  14. Our school asked families with incoming K siblings to let them know.
    At the parent/teacher conference, our daughter's teacher had a siblings list and was keeping track.
    I later met the school principal and asked if SFUSD was trying to get info on the incoming K siblings and he said no, that that was just for our school to get an idea and that it probably won't be revealed to the public.

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  15. anyone else notice something interesting about the private school info so far?

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  16. 6:48 - What do you mean... Lots of openings?

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  17. Looks like Friends has some spots.

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  18. I mean it's interesting that only Friends folks are bothering to provide info.

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  19. What I find interesting is that the Private schools are listed alphabetically, while the publics are a big confusing random list.

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  20. We're at a private, and information has not yet made public about sibling spots. It's too early to be giving out that information.

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  22. transparency is a good thing.
    I asked our Admissions Director at The San Francisco School. SFS averages aboutu 5 openings in Kinder. They had a handful of 1st grade openings last year, and openings in 6th (because we expand to a second class for Middle School.)

    It's a guess, but I still think useful information.

    Katherine Michiels School was missed. They don't asks for a contract or up front money, so they are excellent back-up kindergarten. They have a 2 year Kinder, with lots of openings.

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  23. Anon 12:56

    Did you mean The San Francisco School? I just posted for them 5 Kindergarten openings. I asked the Admissions Dir. When they have an accurate count, i will update that number.

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  24. Although the public school list looks random, I think it's sorted in order of "perceived" quality or popularity.

    I think it would be more useful to sort in order of API scores (or, at least, provide that option).

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  25. My sense is that it is NOT a big sibling bumper crop year. In which case about half of the spots will be taken by siblings and the rest are on the open market. (public and private)

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  26. I think, because public schools are changing all the time, why not just sort them alphabetically, the same as private schools?

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  27. I took the survey as a parent of the Chinese Immersion School at DeAvila (public school). It was not listed as a choice on the survey so I filled out the other field. The survey results did not list my opinion.

    Here you go:
    I believe there will be 60 or so spots for (K) and since it is only 1st and (k) now, I don't see many siblings coming in already. I think most siblings are at least 2 to 3 years apart, not one year. If I had to guess I would say there are 45-50 spots that are open.

    BTW, the school is amazing!

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  28. When does CI at DeAvila offer tours?

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