Friday, August 13, 2010

Have you received a call from SFUSD? Please share

SF K Files has received some reports from parents receiving calls with wait pool news from the district this week. Families are getting into schools....please feel free to share your news!

48 comments:

  1. Does anyone know if I call EPC next week will they tell me how many are left on the waitpool? If I call on Thurs. next week, I would expect some movement. But do they disclose this? I probably wouldn't be able to get anyone to answer the phone though.

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  2. agreed - doubtful that they will answer the phone... you know, they have standing around to do...

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  3. the thing is, even if you get through and they tell you there's an opening at a school you want, by the time you get down there, someone else may have nabbed the spot...so it's really no use to get info by the phone. best to plan on making some time to spend at EPC next week if you really want to get your kid into a school that you want for him/her. Good luck!

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  4. I think what the previous poster is trying to say is that numbers may be changing constantly in the next two weeks through the end of the month. So any information you get over the phone may be outdated as quickly as you hang up with EPC.

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  5. I recently went to the EPC and asked why no one returns my phone calls. The supervisor said that they are understaffed and have cut their switchboard operators. She also said that they do not give out information over the phone anyway. I think that it is best to go down to the office in person.

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  6. We just got into our wait pool school on Saturday (August 7) but heard by mail. We were 0/14. I've written a short blog post about our experience here. It's called, "The Parents, the PDF, and the Official Letter":
    http://devstu.org/blogs/2010/08/10/the-parents-the-pdf-and-the-official-letter

    I am keeping my fingers crossed for everyone else who is still waiting for a school.

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  7. What school did you get? Just want to know where there is movement. Congrats

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  8. To August 13, 2:08:

    I'm happy to share the name of the school but I would rather email to you personally. I don't want to post it online because I would like to protect my daughter's privacy. I hope you understand. You can e-mail me at lisa_borah-geller@devstu.org and I will send you the name of the school.

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  9. I am confused now. It is my understanding that EPC is supposed to call familiies in the waitpool. It isn't first come first served down at their offices next week is it??

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  10. first come first served = after the wait pool lists are dissolved which is in September. Come September, whatever spaces are open and if your child is not currently enrolled in a school, then you can go for any open spots that is open when you are physically in the EPC office with a counselor. Between now and end of this month, EPC is calling parents as the placement process attempts to place students to open spots according to the wait pool lists/priority.

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  11. This week we got only ONE of our twins into our wait pool school (after 2 yrs of waiting). Incredulous, I flew down to the EPC at 7am the next day and camped out. The counselor said "well yes, that is true, you don't want that?" as IF any parent would like to separate her identical twins and send them to 2 schools on different sides of town with the same start time? Right. Oh yeah, and the very substantial risk that slot #2 might not open up (highly desired immersion prog). Come on!!! On every application we have ever submitted, we have written "TWINS" all over it, stapled them together, etc etc BECAUSE they say to do this so they are run together. Ohh but silly me, I was supposed to know that in the last run of the wait pool they are separated and that this can happen. Nevermind that no SFUSD staffer has ever said this to us. Oh and when we turned in this last wait pool list IN PERSON they did not mention this. They did call us some days later however to say that they had no applications on our kids & did we want to waitpool ! (read = applications lost in orbit). On our 2nD trip there for the same wait pool, they again stapled the twin apps together, wrote twins all over it, and did not say ONE word about how this last wait pool works.

    I refused to leave until I saw Mr. Folkin in person. When I stated that this treatment of twins was incomprehensible, he told me "but twins are at an advantage in this system". REALLY? Because if I had only one kid, she'd be into the school already. And if I had one kid, I might have gotten something in the orig lottery, and I might by now have gotten something in the prior wait pool go-arounds. HOW are twins at an advantage?

    Note that if I had not seen the letter in the mail, I would now have twins enrolled at 2 different schools. You would think that if they are calling people this week, they MIGHT have given us a call to check if in fact we wanted our kids in 2 different schools. Or to explain how that happened. But no, according to the counselor we "should have known this would happen at this wait pool run". Huh?
    (to be cont'd)

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  12. (pt 2) Before I even had a chance to speak with him, Mr. Folkin re-enrolled my kid back in her old school. I wanted to TALK to him to get his opinion on the absurd situation. Finally he came out and sat down, and told me that "99% of the time" one twin gets the other twin in to the desired school. But, if we risked it, we might not get it and would have lost the slot at our old school too.

    Perhaps b/c my blood was boiling, I did not have enough sense to ask if that 99% stat would apply to immersion programs, where presumably there would have to be another seat for an English-spkg kid, which is much less likely. So maybe this magical twin benefit is true at gen ed schools, but I doubt it is so w/respect to immersion.

    I asked Mr. Folkin WHY they could simply hold the one opening until the 3-day count, and then if another comes open we would get 2. This seems logical, no? It is not like anyone else is going to take that opening before 8/20, b/c it is not offered. Mr. Folkin was unable to answer this "why" in a way that made sense to a non-bureacrat. My analysis is this: if my kid does not enroll in new school, she is not there to be counted on day 3, so the slot would look "empty" and go into the computer as open. And, if she does not enroll, her sister does not have sibling priority on the wait pool. But gee, story after story abounds all over town about situations in which this alleged "system" can be subverted by the humans at SFUSD (Flynnarado mess case in point). I do not believe for a minute that, were they at all interested in doing good by families, they could not find a simple way to hold the one slot for my one kid & give us 2 if and when a 2nd opens. In that scenario, we are not depriving anyone of a space, b/c it is not there now to be offered anyway. If on 8/20 the 2nd slot does not come up, the first slot (the one my kid was given this week) would be released to the next kid on the list past us. It would not change anything for anyone else, and it could serve to get us into the school we've been waiting for! So WHY can't this simple thing be done?

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  13. (pt 3)Instead, we off the wait pool and have no chance of getting anything off the 3-d count. We could not stay in the pool of course, b/c as Mr. Folkin said "The same thing will happen again with the twins split". RIGHT. So tell me again how twins are at an "advantage here"??? Essentially he is saying that we will never get in from a waitpool without having to undergo the torture of send them to 2 different school and hoping for good odds?

    Yes, I realize folks with multiple kids go through this all the time. But sending your 1st grader to one school & your 3rd grader to another & hoping for the count to work out is a tad different than indentical twins. Non-twin sibs are of different ages, likely have different friends and do not have the intense emotional & physical bond that twins share. Sure, those sibs might be very sad not to be together if ultimately the 2nd kid did not get into desired school, but it would probaby not be a major emotional trauma like it would be for my identical twins. They are a unit; they literally have to be together to feel safe, right, etc in the world.

    So, we opted to return our one child to our current school rather than stress out the kids and us to such a degree.

    Thanks SFUSD for this wonderful experience and the great choices you present to us.

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  14. Y'know, as the mom of a singleton, I have to say I think multiples ought to get first crack at sibling priority or a percentage of each class set aside or something. Just like I think moms of multiples ought to get free drinks at bars and cut-to-the-head-of-the-line privileges when their kids are with them. It seems like a grueling amount of work to have 2 or more kids the exact same age, and there oughtta be some societal respect. Well, maybe except for Octomom.

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  15. Twin mom, that totally sux! What is horrible is that they made you go thru the whole process. If you had known then what you know now, you probably would have had a much better summer.

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  16. I have had no problem calling EPC and speaking with someone who is quite helpful in telling me which level (cohort) wait pool we are in and how many are in it. With the deadline of switching to a different wait pool as of yesterday I don't think the numbers will chNge until next Fri the 20th when they start calling families with spots opening up due to no shows.

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  17. 5:38pm
    i think that the waitpools are dissolved after august 20th not september. they aren't doing 10 days of waiting this year. only 3 and that puts it at august 20th. i was told that we would here if we got our waitpool by the 20th. i am assuming that after that the waitpools are dissolved. but please tell me otherwise if i am wrong.

    we have NO SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT. 0/18 or whatever it is. i have to say that i am truly devastated. we are now considering a move outside of the city. maybe it is for the best anyhow as i am beginning to see that this city has so little to offer middle class families.

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  18. I have to say it is nice to read some humor amidst this horrendous process we are all in -- I loved the comment from the singleton mom that moms of multiples deserve priveleges such as free drinks at a bar or moving to the head of a line with their multiples in tow.

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  19. i don't think we'll be getting our waitpool choice and we have no assignment. we are going to a parochial school that we can't afford so i am still hoping that there is a chance. what can i do after the first week of school? is it just a matter of going to epc everyday and seeing what opens up? is it just luck of the draw and timing if i happen to be there on the day that a spot opens up? i would like to hear how this process works if you are not in the system after the first week of school.

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  20. Does anyone have any idea how many of those on the K waitpool already have a public school assignment?

    My understanding from EPC is that there are very few spots open at a few less desirable schools in the city. Given the total number of children still on the waitlist, it seems possible that there may be more demand for SF public schools than capacity. I presume the city would be obligated to add spots (i.e., increase some class sizes) if that were true.

    Probably just the wishful thinking from a family without a school yet, but curious if anyone has thoughts on this.

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  21. 1:09 - I totally agree with you. If you add up the people that are 0/7, and 0/something and late, that is a LOT of people. I don't think many of these people got something in round II or open enrollment (I heard there was nothing).

    These people have confirmed their interest in staying in the waitpool.

    I am hoping someone with inside info can opine.

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  22. I know people got calls this week into highly desirable schools (not letters, but calls as late as yesterday). My partner and I were pretty irked, because they implied up until yesterday it was the usual wait until the deadline (the 13th) and then run a waitpool. The process never ceases to mystify. ARGH.

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  23. There was a conveniently timed puff piece in today's Chronicle on the new principle at John Muir. Expect the district to try to send a lot of unassigned kids to that school.

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  24. Why are people getting called as late as yesterday? I am so confused I keep hearing others saying this and I want to know why?

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  25. There was a conveniently timed puff piece in today's Chronicle on the new principle at John Muir. Expect the district to try to send a lot of unassigned kids to that school.

    I think there is a lot more at stake in the John Muir situation than whether a few upper/middle class families get unwanted assignments there. No, I don't expect anyone here to take such an overflow assignment at this time. But I wish the new principal and teachers well and hope they can indeed turn around the school--for the sake the existing community of students. And hopefully for some eventual upper/middle class kids who may find their way there if things do turn around. I've heard very good things about this guy from friends at Starr King--good luck to him!

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  26. There was a conveniently timed puff piece in today's Chronicle on the new principle at John Muir. Expect the district to try to send a lot of unassigned kids to that school.

    I think you wanted 'principal'.

    I encourage you to rethink your assumption that all city institutions - the press, SFUSD, etc. - are in cahoots to make a school that you would evidently not choose for your children attractive to you. Indeed, they may be interested in providing excellent educational opportunities to all children in SFUSD, including those who will attend John Muir.

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  27. I read the article about John Muir. Although I think the principal there will be very capable, the article makes it clear that the school will be completely focused on teaching poor and ELL kids to read.

    Never mind the extras.

    Again, that's at the crux of why kids who already are reading will be set back in this school.

    It's that simple.

    And ERat, don't tell me it doesn't happen. I know of a number of families who had kids in some of the better Spanish immersion programs in the Mission. They themselves tell me that they think their kids were bored and held back because the teacher's were focused trying to get poor kids to read. These were exceptionally dedicated parents who had committed themselves to a diverse school.

    E Rat, we've already heard your vision for our schools. While it may be possible at schools like Rooftop, or Alvarado, it is usually not possible to do a good job of teaching such a divergent student group.

    I wish the new principal and school well, but we don't need to rethink our realization that the SFUSD and city leadership have left the majority of the educated middle class out in the cold.

    Regarding the press: I no longer read the Chronicle expecting balanced news coverage. The SF Examiner seems to have taken over the job of balanced investigative reporting, especially for city and school politics.

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  28. Waitpools are dissolved after August 31st, not August 20th. The official line is that calls begin August 20th after analysis of the 3-day count, but I wouldn't doubt if calls for some schools begin earlier. So after the first week of school, they continue to use the waitlist through end of August. And the other official line is if you are attending an SFUSD school, that you can not transfer after September 1st.

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  29. 4:11

    Thanks for sharing but is this information from EPC?

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  30. 9:41, I think you completely missed E.Rat's point. She only suggested that the efforts to find a good principal and teachers and provide funding for John Muir are aimed at the (at this time) mostly low-income kids who are there. It has little to do with attracting you and other disaffected upper middle class families to the school through puff pieces in the Chronicle. In other words, it's not all about you--not the turnaround effort, not the Chron article. The article assumes that we readers would actually care about efforts to improve the educational opportunities for our most at-risk kids. I myself read the article with a glad heart, because I think it is important--regardless of whether it is the right fit for my kids.

    Whether or not the district could be doing more for not-poor families is another question. How to do it is another. What exactly is your solution? Serious question.

    I don't see the Chronicle writing a whole lot of puff pieces. Can you cite any of them?

    I'm getting a little tired of what seems to be either sour grapes or an ongoing ideological rant. Can't we just be happy that there seems to be a serious attempt to address some of the issues at John Muir? Doesn't mean you must send your kid there to be happy that they are adding resources for a school whose kids are statistically at risk for educational failure.

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  31. 4:51

    I'm glad you question me! I love K Files, but always confirm what I read with EPC. Before we got our first choice/waitpool school via letter this very last round, I was in EPC or calling them all the time. At first I thought waitpools dissolved August 20th, too; but after repeated questioning, I think it is safe to say that they dissolve August 31st.

    I say "official line" regarding transfers within district because I can't believe that if you stay on top of things with EPC and the school that you wouldn't be able to take a vacant space at the school you desire...should a spot open in September, for example. Easier to say now that we have our school, I know.

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  32. Wishing everyone an excellent first day and strong positive vibes to everyone still waiting and hoping!

    For those waiting and hoping, I suppose I'll be seeing y'all at EPC some time tomorrow :)

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  33. 7:18.

    I'm sorry you're tired. I'm feeling rather energized these days, as the election is coming.

    I too am happy that something is being done to improve John Muir School. Granted, the reason for the change has nothing to do with choices made by the city. The impetus for change has come from the federal government. It took the federal government to tell the SFUSD that test scores of "1-1" are unacceptable. The SFUSD, with all of its rosy idealism, didn't seem to be able to figure this out.

    Most of the families still on the wait list are not poor and are not looking for a spot at John Muir School for the reasons already mentioned. As someone indicated earlier, even if every open slot in the city were filled, even at "1-1" schools, there are probably not enough school openings to accommodate those still on the wait list.

    Chronicle readers likely do care about John Muir School. Judging by the comments, they are also are concerned that so much is spent on low performing schools without result.

    Or do results vs dollars spent not concern you?

    Many other people are very tired of school issues for a different reason than you. They are tired of having their taxes dumped down a black hole with so little to show for it.

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  34. 8:02

    But addressing the needs of our lowest performing students ARE expensive.

    From my experience many of these students come from families and home settings that do not provide high academic expectations nor a supportive environment for joyful learning, to say the least. This, i might point out - in case anyone out there actually cares about these kids - is not the fault of, nor under the control of the actual students. Many require extra/wrap around support services that some of our schools provide on site. And many require additional academic support that grants and the federal government finances, but not very well.

    Also to note: being poor does not automatically translate to poor academic achievement. Many "poor" Asian immigrant students are high achievers.

    I guess I'm wondering, for all those who claim that too much money and attention is being wasted on underachieving students and not enough on middle class families, what is the alternative?

    Should these students be collected into some school somewhere that we don't have to see or think about and educated differently but for less money somehow? Or why even try, right? Should we ignore them and end up paying significantly more to incarcerate them in the future?

    I'm not trying to be facetious, I'd like to hear what your solution is....

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  35. I have no solution, alas. But it seems to me that the vast gap between rich and poor these days, and the floor being so low for the poor, makes creating public schools that meet the needs of all an impossibility. You need a majority middle-class society to make the schools work, because the middle class has traditionally been the class most invested in "human capital." And we've completely destroyed the middle class in the past 30-40 years, while the upper class rakes it in and the ranks of the poor swell. That, and our refusal to admit that we screwed up Emancipation royally, dumping former slaves into a caste system and refusing them any significant reparations, have created an enormous underclass in this society, and an ever-diminishing middle class.

    I guess I think we owe the most money, best teachers, and most careful education to the poorest. But that doesn't solve the conundrum of how to educate one's own middle-class kid on a middle-class salary. Let's just say that if I had citizenship in any other Western democracy but this one, I'd be moving.

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  36. "That, and our refusal to admit that we screwed up Emancipation royally, dumping former slaves into a caste system and refusing them any significant reparations, have created an enormous underclass in this society, and an ever-diminishing middle class."

    The largest minority group at John Muir School are *not* African Americans.

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  37. No school assignment...I can't stand it! I see the traffic congestion at my waitpool school and I envy those parents stuck in their cars!!!

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  38. 3:09 do you know what schools folks got calls from? I am so confused as EPC told me they were not doing another lottery run until after the 3 day count so what gives!! This is sounding very fishy!

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  39. 9:06 - From my experience with K last year, I think that when school starts today, if a child isn't there, the school will try to contact the parents. If they are told that the child is definitely not coming to the school (attending private school, moved, etc), they will notify the EPC immediately, and the EPC may pull a name from the waitpool right away. The three-day count is for "no-shows" where the school hasn't been able to contact the parents, then the spot is given away to the waitpool. This process is good for the parents, since it minimizes the waiting of the waitpool families.

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  40. I had to swallow my bitter pill this morning as I watched all the families in my neighborhood walking the GE progarm in our hood. This was as I loaded my son up into the car, drove across town and hunted for a parking space. Then I just cringed as I was driving around this other neighborhood looking for parking as I saw all the families walking out their front doors and over to the GE program in their hood. Then I went to the new parents coffee and heard about "Walk to School Day" and "Bike to School Day" where the district encourages students to bike and walk to school. Ha! We'd love to do that SFUSD but you won't let us. Grrr!

    THanks for the rant. Understanding of course some kids have no school today and I should be thankful we had a school, but still the process stinks and the whole fact that SFUSD knows that and are changing it NEXT year makes it even worse.

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  41. Yes, for those of us stuck in cars all day driving kids here & there b/c we cannot get a school near our homes, the "Bike to School Day" and "Walk to School Day" events are irksome to say the least. I work for the city, which encourages us to use public transit...but I cannot b/c I have 2 kids to get to & from school across town and then to my office. Oh, and my job also requires me to be there at 8am, nevermind that I could not get my kid into a school that starts before 8, or that has before care OR after care (ours has neither). With the 1st day of school my blood pressure doubles and our family stress level skyrockets.

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  42. I hear you...9:30 a.m start time, no before care. It is going to cost me $150 a week or $600 a month just for before school care. Anyone counting..that is $5400 for 9 months (plus will need to pay for the summer if we want to keep the same person next year so, $7,200). Private school is starting to look better and better.

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  43. Bay Area becomes less hospitable for working moms:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/ontheblock/detail?entry_id=70193

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  44. For those of you still waiting for a school (like us), what will you do if your child doesn't get into your wait list school? We haven't even thought of what we will do next. Do you put them into a pre-school? And what are the chances of getting them into a school you want when they go into first grade? Should we consider moving out of the city? I am going crazy with this 3 day count down deal. So unfair. I come home from work hoping I will have a message letting us know we got into our wait list school. What are the chances?

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  45. 7:59, I'm sorry for your stress. I really hope you get that call.

    One option if not is to check out some of the open enrollment schools. Who knows, there may be spots at less-known but really quite decent schools such as Sheridan, Parker, Glen Park, Ortega GE, Junipero Serra. Maybe Milk, which has 4 in the waitpool right now. A lot will shake out between now and the end of the waitpool process. Then you can try again for 1st grade at your waitpool or some other school.

    Of course the other options you mean are also available. You can also wait and see if something opens up during the year; as an out-of-district transfer, you would be offered what is available. You'd have to keep in touch with EPC as the year went along.

    Anyway, hopefully it won't come to that. Good luck!

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  46. Other possibilities that *may* have openings: the Montessori program (public school, Pacific Heights area); Redding; Monroe GE; Spring Valley; Moscone. These are not low-test schools, just off the radar of folks here.

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  47. FYI, I was talking with a work colleague whose kid was shifting from Tenderloin to DeMarillac Academy (as his kid got a scholarship there). He was very positive on both Tenderloin Community and DeMarillac.

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  48. Maybe vocational school should be the priority.

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