Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hot topic: SFUSD and out-of-district students

This from an SF K Files reader:
I was recently rejected from turning in my son's kindergarten application at the SFUSD because my PG&E bill was too old. With living in SF for over 10 years, working full-ime for a non-profit here in the City and paying property taxes on a small TIC I was feeling insulted and sort of entitled. I left frustrated but went back with a more up to date bill and his application was accepted. The next day at work I was venting about this and the kindergatren process to a co-worker of mine. His 2 children both go to a "trophy school" and his family lives in Marin!?! I had no idea that once a child starts school in SF they can stay for the convenience of parents who work here. This seems unfair and I am wondering if it is actually legitimate? I have no interest in getting this guys kids kicked out of school, but it does seem off that some children who live outside of the county are allowed to keep coveted spots for their parents convenience. I am wondering how common this is, families who live elsewhere but the parents commute in to SF for work and send their kids to public school here?

31 comments:

  1. This seems like a family-friendly policy to me. It's better for the kids to have their parents close by in case they get sick, or there is some other emergency. Maybe it just grates because they are in a "trophy school".

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  2. It sounds as if the family was in SF when at least the first child started K. Once enrolled in a school, you are generally able to stay. The only exception I know of is Lowell. No address verification is done to stay enrolled at any other school. Did the 2nd kid get in while they still lived in SF? If they got a sibling preference spot while living in Marin, I guess I could see how that might seem unfair.

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  3. If you work in SF, your kids can go to SF public schools but you DO NOT get preference in the lottery (I'm not sure where you fall, but you are lower tier). As an example, one of my close friends works at a university in the city. Her first child started at an SFUSD school while living in the city. They then moved outside SF, but my friend still works here so her child could stay at that elementary school, and her second child then got in with sibling preference. However... now that middle school is coming up they get dropped to a lower tier (and they'll likely have to go to private schools). I'm sure all this is in the SFUSD materials.

    As far as an opinion, I think this policy seems fair. If someone works in SF they should be able to have their children in the same city. How could a working parent realistically get off work and back to a suburban school by 5 or 6? The city was traditionally the hub of economic activity. If you live outside SF (but work here) you are given lower priority in the lottery, so it still gives an advantage to residents. And if someone has already started at a school (while still living here) it seems nice to let the kids stay with their friends. Let's support families that work in SF. Their parents are an important part of the SF community, creating top tier universities and other assets the city is known for (and their employers are contributing plenty to our tax base).

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  4. I don't see what the issue is. The family started their children at the school when they lived in the city, right? Why should they have to uproot their child(ren) and disrupt their school lives if they don't have to, just because they moved?
    I think it's a good policy for working families. BTW, we also know a few families at our school who live in the East Bay but work in the city. No big deal.

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  5. It can be pretty annoying for me to stare at my large property tax bill, and have the same feeling of entitlement to be able to choose my neighborhood school. But it's not the people who work for the city that are the problem. I wish that we could get a statistic of the number of kids cheating the system all together. Using relatives addresses, or paying someones cable bill in exchange for the name. Yes, that happens. My child goes to AP in the Sunset and knows of quite a few kids who are falsifying where they live. She was invited secretly once to a slumber party in Milbrae, and the parents were so obviously worried that we were going to report them. I can't do that to the kid, but it's not fair to the kids that live here. I'll allow the people that work here to try. But they in no way, should get any priority over my kid. I wish they would make it harder to prove that you live in the city. I'm willing to prove it, if there's a better filtering system. I met someone who got Clarendon using a relatives address claiming that there were too many Hispanic kids in South San Francisco for her.

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  6. Ok so if I work in Palo Alto, I get to go to one of their schools with slots, right? ... Nope.

    I don't think it's right with so many legitimate city taxpayers paying their high taxes (or rents) based on the high property values going 0 for 15 or whatever, but I also agree that the outright cheaters probably greatly outnumber the people who do this legitimately.

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  7. It may be a nice policy to make life easier for families, but I have two concerns. One, they don't pay property taxes here. They may work in the city, but so do many of us that also live here. Two, if the city is so concerned about making it "easy" for parents and families, they need to address many of the city policies that make it hard for families to LIVE here AND send their children to school here.

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  8. I know of two families who do not live in the city but whose children attend Alice Fong Yu.

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  9. Just to be clear, most of our school funding comes from central statewide funding (which derives from income taxes and a portion of property taxes, but is collected and then sent out according to a per-student weighted formula, not based on the property taxes actually paid here in SF). This is different from the situation in many other states, whose local communities rely in large degree on local property taxes. The kids from Marin bring their money with them in that sense. More kids in the district = more money overall. I do realize that doesn't address the issue of those kids taking scarce spots at AFY or Clarendon.

    It's funny reading this discussion though, since most conversation in urban areas revolves around urban families trying to get their kids into suburban schools. In states where schools rely much more on local property taxes, there have been lots of court cases litigated around how to get resources shared more equitably with urban schools. I guess it's a good sign for SF schools that people in wealthy Marin would want their kids in our urban schools.

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  10. This is an asinine policy. You move out of the City your kids move out of their City school.

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  11. This is an asinine policy. You move out of the City your kids move out of their City school. - I agree.

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  12. It's not like the schools in the city are full. Bring 'em on!

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  13. The best ones are ... and I'm sure these kids aren't taking up slots at Muir or Cobb.

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  14. I've got to put in my two cents. I live in SF but work in Marin. I tried to get my kid into the Marin schools but was flatly turned down. And from co-workers who've moved around over the years, I know that Marin schools regularly check to make sure parents are still in Marin -- if you move out of the area, you are out, even if you still work in Marin. So why should SF treat out-of-district students better?

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  15. Imagine being separated from your child by a large body of water when the Big One hits and the bridge(s) are out of service. We live with the threat of natural disaster every day.

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  16. Regarding property taxes:

    From what I understand, the base amount given per student to our San Francisco schools does come from an aggregated state tax. We pay into state tax from our property taxes AND from state tax levied on our income tax.

    San Franciscans pay disproportionately into BOTH property tax AND state income tax because housing is expensive here AND because, in general, you have to have a high income to live in the city.

    Therefore, the argument that we are somehow not unfairly affected when a non-resident sends their child to a San Francisco school RINGS COLD!

    On top of that, significant funding for schools comes directly from city property tax. The Rainy Day fund and school infrastructure costs come directly from city property taxes.

    We are greatly and unfairly impacted when a non resident, either honestly or by cheating, attends a San Francisco school.

    And by the way, I waitlisted Sunset last year and did not get in. The above post about the faked residency of the Sunset parents really ticks me off.

    I would also suggest that if parents are willing to falsify their information about residency, they are probably also willing to falsify information about their "free lunch" status and english language proficiency. Falsifying information on a school application form is a felony by state law.

    To all you property tax payers out there, don't pay late. The city would just love to get that extra 10%. They seem to be dragging their feet about check cashing this year as well, maybe hoping to trip up a few people paying close to the deadline.

    Something really does need to be done about all this.

    I will not vote to increase education spending or Rainy Day fund spending, not one iota, until San Francisco residents are ALWAYS given priority in school applications.

    There needs to be a thorough audit every year of residency and family income. Language needs to be removed from the lottery as a factor.

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  17. "Imagine being separated from your child by a large body of water when the Big One hits and the bridge(s) are out of service. We live with the threat of natural disaster every day.

    December 9, 2009 10:15 AM"

    What crap this is. Nobody forced you to move out of the city. You are responsible for your own decisions in terms of where you work and live. The San Francisco tax payer is not responsible for that.

    If your so damn worried about earthquakes, go live in Boston. Then you can worry about asteroids.

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  18. I know of SF residents who legally send their kids to schools in San Mateo County, using the inter-district transfer process. It's not the one-way street you all seem to imagine.

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  19. 9:53 am again -- I should have been clearer -- I applied for an interdistrict transfer two years in a row and was turned down each time.

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  20. " You are responsible for your own decisions in terms of where you work and live. The San Francisco tax payer is not responsible for that. "

    Ah, the sense of entitlement that comes from paying ridiculously high property taxes. Thanks, Prop 13.

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  21. "Ah, the sense of entitlement that comes from paying ridiculously high property taxes. Thanks, Prop 13."

    More crap.

    Virtually everywhere else in the United States and Canada, school enrollment is strictly by district.

    Nothing to do with entitlement.

    That overused "entitlement" label is just another one of those embittered attempts to flout the law and use finger pointing at others to cover up the crime.

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  22. The economic reality of the day is that many people cannot afford to live in San Francisco, but they can't afford to give up their jobs here, either. The example of the Marin family sending their kids to a trophy school in San Francisco smarts, no doubt, but there are also families driving in every day from Antioch. At least they get to spend some time with their kids in the car as they drive them to school. Long commutes make for stressful lives and put a strain on the kids. If you are lucky enough to live close to where you work, you are doing better than most.

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  23. Actually, districts all over the country allow for transfers from neighboring ones, if the transferred-into districts have room after accommodating residents. Not sure about Canada though, or why that would be relevent.

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  24. Most likely this family is in an SF school illegitimately and, I might add, probably illegally. Technically, you are suppose to request an inter-district transfer every year and only given the spot after all SF residents have been placed. The reality is that SFUSD does not have the funds to check up on everyone's address - but periodically they do. If I were this family I wouldn't be bragging about it. It would take just one person to make a big deal about it.

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  25. 1:04pm:
    I thought that once your children are enrolled in an SF public school, they can stay there for the duration. Otherwise, wouldn't they have to check EVERYONE'S address every singe year? (as if the district ever would have the money to do this)
    If you reread the post, it seems clear that this family's kids were likely enrolled while they were living in San Francisco; they did not request an inter-district transfer because they did not need one.

    Honestly, I still don't see what the big deal is.

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  26. I don't think the long commute / earthquake possibility has that much to do with it. I've met and know some cheaters (and some legits who work in the city and go through round 2 or whatever the legal route is) over the years and they've all been from Daly City with one Oakland exception. The SF schools are better and I'm sure that's the reason - there's no bridge or long commute between Daly City and the south-west SF schools - we're talking about a 5 minute drive!

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  27. To 1:55.

    I don't think so. My understanding is that they are suppose to get approval every year after the lottery is run. In the upper grades there is probably space so your right - its no big deal. My experience, however, is that people just don't tell anyone they move and work out a mailing address.

    I also, think it is a big deal if they do it illegally and they want one of the schools that are over subscribed. They are taking up spaces that could go to SF residents.

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  28. I was talking with my daughter the other day and she was telling me about two kids in her class at Balboa that live in Oakland. I was suprised that they would commute so far for school and asked if she knew why they came to the city for school. She wasn't sure why they were at Bal, but said that it wasn't that unusual and that in her middle school there were also several out of city kids in her class.

    So I guess not everyone is fleeing SFUSD for the suburbs...

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  29. And I know several who are at Lowell who don't live in the city

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  30. We have been going through the Interdistrict transfer (IDT) process to get into SF schools. Here is my understanding of the process. A legitimate IDT involves first being released from your home district and then accepted into SFUSD. The IDT is only considered at either end if there is a legit reason, eg. the absence of a custodial adult. In our case there is NO custodial adult in the East Bay between 7:30 am and 6:00pm, both parents are FT in SF during the work day. I think SF gives some "unofficial preference" for IDTs to government employees - which we both are (Fed and State), and to health workers, and other people providing essential services (police and fire, teachers). We will be assigned a school ONLY after all SF residents have been assigned... so we won't have a school placement until the second week of August. We are also permitted to play the "three day" game. We need to renew the IDT each and every year at either end - that is, release from our home district and acceptance into SFUSD. (That does not mean we have to change schools, only demonstrate that our family still qualifies) As for funding - state funding travels with the student, so if when our child enrolls in SFUSD, the money travels with her. Our attendance will be monitored very closely. Attendance issues (tardiness included) are grounds for ejection from the SFUSD. What else? Lots of people on this blog say that people should just "move to SF.” We would if we could, but it is not possible for us to do so at this time on a civil service salary and with the housing market as embattled as it is (we own our house, and have been “drowned”).

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  31. I see nothing at all wrong with this. However, my confusion is, if living in Marin, why would you not transfer your child to this wonderful school district (beats SF's educationally challenged district to death). Marin has one of the best K-12 educational districts in the country - and you are keeping them in SF? Must be for your convenience, not the kids prosperity - may want to sleep on that one.

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