September 10, 2010 (San Francisco) - On Monday, September 13 at the Ad Hoc Committee of the Board of Education, the Superintendent will be recommending that the district move forward with the elementary and high school placement policy and take another year to further develop the middle school placement changes, which would mean postponing the decision on elementary to middle feeder patterns.
Superintendent Carlos Garcia says “We are still committed to enacting the new placement policy in its entirety. Next fall we will have even more opportunities for middle school students and their families than those currently available and we’d like to get those in place before we institute the feeder patterns.”
More Opportunities at Middle Schools
The superintendent said that the district needs to provide families with specific school level details about the new school improvement initiatives before the district rolls out the feeder patterns. There are many new initiatives that are in their infancy, including:
• Special Education redesign – The district commissioned an independent audit which is forthcoming regarding Special Education programs and has a new highly qualified leader of Special Education who will help shepherd improvements in these services.
• Lau plan – The district is in its 2nd year of implementing a comprehensive plan for serving English Learners (EL). As part of rolling out this plan, program options will be expanding for both EL students and other students as more language pathways between elementary and middle schools are developed.
• SIG Magnet grants– Horace Mann and Everett, two middle schools in the Mission district, will be receiving millions annually starting this fall to drastically accelerate student achievement. The district is awaiting information about whether or not Horace Mann and Everett will also be receiving funding to develop magnet programs.
The district has sought out and received input from community members over the past few weeks and for several years preceding the new placement policy.
Special Assistant to the Superintendent Orla O’Keeffe says that while accepting the initial assignment offer for a feeder middle school would be optional for families, some parents are concerned that their options for other middle schools would be limited.
“In the past few weeks we have heard from parents who are excited about the proposed feeder schools and parents who are very concerned about it – the concern is primarily based on whether or not currently enrolled elementary parents perceive their proposed feeder middle school as one where they would want to send their child,” states O’Keeffe.
“Given the mixed reactions we have heard, we acknowledge that postponing the implementation of feeder patterns will be disappointing to some parents and welcome news to others,” she continues.
Proposed Revision to the Placement Policy
The Board will be reviewing a revised policy proposal that states that for the enrollment year 2011-2012 the middle schools choice process will give preference to applicants in transitional years (i.e., students transitioning from fifth to sixth grade) in the following order:
1. younger siblings of students who are enrolled in and will be attending the school during the year for which the younger sibling requests attendance;
3. all other students
Students who are not assigned to one of their choices will be assigned to the middle school closest to where they live that has openings.
Last March, the SFUSD Board of Education approved a redesign of the district’s student assignment system which will take effect with the incoming classes of kindergartners, sixth and ninth graders in the fall of 2011. Now the Board of Education is considering recommendations for new attendance area boundaries, elementary to middle school feeder patterns, and a new transportation policy.
This is the first time in over 30 years that the boundaries for most San Francisco elementary schools have been fully revised. Attendance areas are geographic borders drawn around most elementary schools throughout the district (58 of the 72 elementary schools). The district created attendance areas so there can be a system of helping elementary students get placement in their attendance area school if they wish. Families are not required to choose their attendance area school, nor can they be guaranteed a placement at their attendance area school.
Also, for the first time, SFUSD will be creating a Kindergarten through eighth grade assignment option for families, what is called “feeder patterns.” Fifth grade students will get an initial placement offer based on the elementary school they attend, regardless of where they live.