Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It’s Hard not to Fall in Love with the Dragons- Miraloma Elementary School

Tour number one is in the books. I decided to try and get to Miraloma Elementary first since it’s my “neighborhood” school. When I checked the schedule earlier in the week it just so happened that last Friday was the first tour and I was available to attend.

This year us SF K Files guest bloggers are posting our tour notes in the community forum's school pages. It’s an effort to get information about schools in one centralized location and I think it’s going to really make it easier to get information about a specific school. So go here to see my official notes about the Miraloma Elementary tour I went on. However, I have two side notes that came up on my tour that I would love a little feedback on. I’ve posted those below.

Side note 1- On this tour I was a little surprised to see a TV in a pretty prominent place near what I would assume is a “circle time” carpet in one of the kindergarten rooms (I didn't notice a TV in the other rooms, but couldn't see the entire rooms). I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing and I certainly have nothing against television in general (plenty of Curious George around here), but it seemed like an odd placement in a classroom. Maybe I’m just out of date though, are TVs a tool used in schools often now? Or perhaps the teacher only had one spot in the room with an available outlet and that’s where the TV had to go? As a kid I remember the random movie day, but it certainly wasn’t often enough to warrant a TV in the middle of circle time area. Those of you with kids already in school, what is your experience with TV in your child’s classroom- is it used more often now than in the olden days when we all went to school?

Side note 2- During the Q and A with parents and the principal, the principal asked the parents on tour who lived in the neighborhood to raise their hands because he was curious how the neighborhood assignments would reflect in those who were touring. Only about 1/3 of the parents raised their hands. This surprised me because I live in the neighborhood and don’t feel like I have a great shot of getting in there. Are people still expecting to get into popular neighborhood schools even out of the neighborhood? I’m making no comment here on whether I think this is fair or not, just that I sort of assumed with this new system there wasn’t much shot at people outside the neighborhoods (without CTIP 1 preference, which I can’t imagine all these people had) attending the neighborhood schools that have historically been so oversubscribed. What do you think?

Also, if you have questions about Miraloma that my tour notes don’t answer, please post them and I’ll see if it’s something I can answer. Or perhaps a Miraloma parent can chime in and help us out.

All in all, Miraloma Elementary seems like a really great place and I would feel like I won the lottery (which, considering the circumstances in SFUSD is sort of correct) if I were able to send my child there.


  1. I have the same question -- why tour other neighborhood schools? It seems like if they are decent they will be filled up by students in that attendance area. Grattan is our attendance area school, which is great! However, I realize it is very popular with people in the neighborhood and, since it has a CDC preschool too, I'm quite sure it will fill quickly and not everyone in the attendance area will get in. Our next closest schools (not including city-wide) would be Clarendon or Mckinley but it seems pointless to even try for those neighborhood schools, right?

  2. I would think those shut out of Grattan will most likely be assigned New Traditions. Or possibly John Muir. Keep your fingers crossed... you have just as good a chance as anyone else in your assignment area for getting Grattan.

  3. 9:43 am -- I think Clarendon is going to have space apart from the CTIP 1folks and the neighborhood kids. I live in that zone and it ain't really filled with kids -- lots of twin peaks is kidless and lots of midtown terrace/forest knolls is filled with older families protected by Prop 13. Also it is a bit out of the way for the CTIP 1 folks to get to. I'm expecting CTIP 1 folks to be filling up schools closer to that zone. So I'd think Clarendon would be a good bet for you.

  4. Maybe people are touring other neighborhood schools because they are afraid they will get bumped from their own, and just want to check out others nearby.

    I'd be looking at Miraloma if I lived in the Clarendon assignment area, because half of Clarendon will be city-wide, and the other half will fill up quickly with kids from the assignment area, which includes the Inner Sunset, Forest Hill, Forest Knolls and Midtown Terrace.

  5. I'd also go tour Miraloma as a place to compare to my attendance area school. You should have an idea of what the "trophies" look like before touring your own school.

  6. Miraloma parent here (1st grade twins). I can't speak to the assignment system. Yes, we love the school. This is an incredible community and we feel so lucky to be there. I'm not sure how the new assignment system will play out. As far as the TV goes, my two did not watch TV much when in K. There was one day when a fieldtrip fell through and the kids watched a Disney Movie instead. Towards the end of the school year they talked about dinosaurs and watched the series "Walking with dinosaours". My kids are in MEEP which we adore - they have movie Fridays and we take no offense. I think TV is a fine thing as media used and it's definitely sparingly used at Miraloma.

  7. "I have the same question -- why tour other neighborhood schools?"

    You tour other neighborhood schools to figure out which schools you want to put lower down your list in case you do get bumped. You'll still have priority over non-bumped for other schools, and you can list as few or as many schools as you want.

    If you don't list a bunch of schools after your neighborhood school, then the district will assign you a school nearest to you with places, which is likely to be a low-demand school like Muir.

    As we don't yet know what the process will be for placement after the initial assignment run, it makes sense to try to maximize your chances of getting something in the initial run.

  8. What people don't realize is that living close by means you're actually 4th in line, between siblings of kids already attending the school, kids who went to a SFUSD preschool, and every single kid in a CTIP 1 zone, which is huge- a significant chunk of the Mission, Bayview, etc.
    I live a few blocks from Alvarado, but consider my chances of getting in to be slim at best. We're applying to private schools as a backup, which seems crazy to me.

  9. I mapped the location of all the students in my kid's Kindergarten class at Miraloma. 2/20 are in the Miraloma attendance area, and the remaining 18/20 are CTIP2 - the majority of which (8/20) are from attendance areas adjacent to the Miraloma attendance area. From these numbers it seems like Miraloma isn't likely to be popular among CTIP1 families - possibly because it is just too difficult to commute to this neighborhood. It seems like someone with neighborhood preference would stand a decent chance of getting in the school.

  10. 8:56, I believe you are correct. Miraloma is inaccessible to any family lacking stable private transportation (a decent car). Some CTIP1 families are middle class and have cars. But many CTIP1 families do not have cars. I think most CTIP1 families will not be focusing on Miraloma but on more accessible schools--to the degree they try to leave their neighborhood schools to start with.

    Can't remember, is there an SFUSD preschool in the Miraloma attendance area? If not, it's mainly just siblings ahead of local kids.

  11. "I mapped the location of all the students in my kid's Kindergarten class at Miraloma. 2/20 are in the Miraloma attendance area, and the remaining 18/20 are CTIP2 - the majority of which (8/20) are from attendance areas adjacent to the Miraloma attendance area."

    Here's a question: Why does Miraloma only have 20 kids in the K class? Shouldn't they have 22 kids like my kid's school does?

    Just wondering.

  12. Regarding class size at Miraloma. Miraloma has special funding for class size reduction, obtained about 5 years ago when the test scores were considerably lower. This funding (QEIA) has kept K-3 class sizes at 20 and 4-5 below 25 (achieved by one split 4/5 class). QEIA funding is set to run out in a couple of years, and then class sizes will increase to match the other public schools in the city.

  13. But the QEIA funding for Miraloma was to keep 4th grade classes lower, not Kindergarten (I was on the SSC when we got it). I don't recall kindergarten being part of the discussion or agreement at all (plus, at the time, the threat of larger class sizes for K-3 wasn't on anyone's radar.) Not sure why it's only 20 like the others.

  14. I was on a tour of Miraloma today and the principal said they were required to maintain the current class sizes in order to comply with QEIA funding requirements. They are in the fourth year of seven in which they will get the funding. After that, he said they did not know what would happen to class sizes.

  15. 1st grade miraloma parent here.

    I would estimate about 40-50% of the 1st grade are in the attendance area. (we have a grade wide address book) There are 8 of 20 in my son's class. I was surprised at how many there are. A lot of families walk to school.

    I think you've got a good shot with the new system. Don't count it out!

    Tour Monroe, you'll like it too.