Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hot topic: "Neighborhood schools"

This from a reader:
I'm curious how many parents are actually most interested in their "neighborhood school?" Is the school that you're "assigned to" at the top of your list?

56 comments:

  1. Students First submitted its neighborhood schools ballot measure and it only needs 56% valid signatures to be approved.

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  2. Our neighborhood K-5 school is not an option for us. Reasons include recent violent bullying incidents, lack of services/enrichment, lack of parental involvement, very low test scores. Although there have been attempts to improve the school by adding a language immersion strand, the GE program is still many years away from improvement. If we could afford to move into a neighborhood with better schools, we would.

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  3. Blech, no. I look at my neighborhood school and want to cry. I'm all for improving it, but not with my kid as a guinea pig. I'd leave the city first.

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  4. The ballot measure is non-binding and has no authority.

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  5. People who love their neighborhood schools are "for" neighborhood schools. It all depends where you live.

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  6. Yes. It is our first choice and we would be thrilled. Not only can we walk to school, it has an early start perod, onsite after care and great test schores. We are applying for 1st grade as we did not get it last year and so we are holding out and hopefully get a spot.

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  7. If it weren't for the 7:50 start time, we'd be OK with it. Not thrilled, but OK. It's very popular, our neighborhood is overrun with kids, and the school is reasonably central for plugged-in CTIP 1 dwellers, so not sure our odds would be very good. We're in parochial.

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  8. 9:23, it does seem odd to me that the BOE went to a largely neighborhood assignment system while maintaining the very different start times for different ES.

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  9. Is there any chance that the district will move to a more reasonable start time for all? I am sure for many, their neighborhood school start time of 7:50 is too early, and the same goes for the 9:30 start time being too late.

    It made more sense when it was a choice system to have different start times, and I know it also helped accommodate the bus schedule.

    I am biased because I would LOVE it if our 7:50 start time (Lafayette) was moved back to, say, 8:30.... It wouldn't be good for families that chose our school because it started early, of course. I'd love to take a survey at our school to find out what people think.

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  10. I have to get to work at the lastest by 8:30. 7:50 (with a drop off of 7:30) at my school works. Anything else would not.

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  11. It is true that the Quality Neighborhood Schools For All ballot measure is not binding. But that does not mean it is meaningless. The Transit First people pressured Supes and won tranportation concessions using nonbinding ballot measures.

    If San Franciscan's vote for the measure and it wins, which I believe is an uphill battle given the neo-reactionary politics here, the Board members are going to have to pay heed to their constituents' desires if they want to be reelected.

    Just because it is non-binding doesn't mean it is pointless, not if the will over the voters means anything to the elected officials that drive policy.

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  12. In an ideal world, the start time for all our schools would be 8:30 and before and aftercare would be offered for those families who need it.

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  13. Will the district assign your student to your attendance area school - if you don't list it as a choice - when none of your other choices are available? (We like our attendance area school, but prefer another in a bordering area over it. We would accept it if assigned to it, but want to try for the other school. By putting it anywhere on our list, I feel that we may automatically get it.)

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  14. Is the district maintaining wait lists for students who do not receive any of their choices as they have in past years? What options do parents have if they do not get any of their choices?

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  15. 1:05PM
    I believe that if your child gets into both, your child will be assigned to the one that you rank higher in your preference. Thus, it would be advantageous to list both, especially if you don't mind your neighborhood school.

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  16. 1:10 -- the enrollment guide lists several subsequent dates when people can submit applications if they don't get what they want after the first assignment is given. They are no longer called "rounds" as in the past, but the idea is the same.

    The biggest difference I can see between this and previous years is that there is no preference given in subsequent rounds (for lack of a better word) for people who put a certain number of choices but got nothing, or even for people who didn't turn in an application before the original deadline. So now if the only schools you would consider are Miraloma, Sunnyside, and Commadore Sloat(for example), you can just list those three. You don't have to "strategize" about how you should round out your list of 7 to make sure you go 0/7 instead of 0/3, giving you an advantage in subsequent rounds. I'll be curious to hear how this affects demand numbers. I always hear about how "1,000 people applied to Rooftop," but I've always wondered how many of those "applications" were just people listing that school b/c they knew they wouldn't get it and could therefore be 0/7.

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  17. I'm very happy our daughter is in Kindergarten this year at Sloat because I would not want her in our neighborhood school, which is now Monroe (GE). Feel like we dodged a bullet entering the year we did.

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  18. Sloat is a great school, but Monroe is up and coming, and it's definitely an unfounded slam to refer to not being assigned to Monroe as "dodging a bullet."

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  19. I really liked Monroe and would have sent my son there, but we got our neighborhood school Miraloma off waitlist.

    Meanwhile, I don't begrudge someone's feeling that they dodged a bullet by not getting assigned to Monroe. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of each school.

    People who would fear a school based on an anonymous post on a board are not worth worrying about.

    I was talking with a neighbor who has heard horrible things about Monroe a few years back. I advised them to tour the school, when I toured there last year, I felt it was a good school and that the community was coming behind it.

    I'm interested to hear which school has recent violent bullying incidents.

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  20. For those of you who *might* consider Monroe, I just wanted to mention that it has a wonderful hardworking community, a GREAT principal whom the teachers and parents respect (so much so that all were ready to march to Franklin Street this summer when SFUSD threatened to move her to another school), onsite afterschool care, a vibrant arts program, a Spanish immersion program (two K classes), awesome parent liaisons who ensure that all community members (i.e., Spanish- and/or Chinese speakers) are included in school activities/decisions, a garden, etc. etc. . Oh, and API scores over 800. Not quite sure what “bullet” one would be dodging by not being assigned to the school. Best of luck to you in your searches.

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  21. Re: "Will the district assign your student to your attendance area school - if you don't list it as a choice - when none of your other choices are available?"

    At the PPS-SF presentation that I went to, they emphasized that you will be assigned to the school closest to your house that has openings (which may or may not be your attendance area school) - just like in the old system. If your attendance area school is acceptable to you and you can live with it, put it on your list but rank it near the bottom and hope for something that you desire more (and use the subsequent lotteries - it's nice that you can continue to use lotteries even though you may get one of your choices!). Otherwise, leave it off your list and put down 10 schools that otherwise fulfill your heart's desire.

    The school closest to your house can depend on the neighborhood and they vary from year to year. Two years ago, many of our friends in the Glen Park neighborhood were assigned to Cesar Chavez when they got none of their choices. Many of our friends in Noe were assigned to John Muir. Last year, some of the Glen Park neighbors were assigned to Glen Park and Junipero Serra (but fewer kids applied last year than two years ago so maybe that's why the assigned choices were better!). I knew people who were assigned to Sheridan from as far away as the Inner Sunset. So if you live next to John Muir, you can probably expect an assignment there, even if it's not on your list. But some of the other schools, it's a roll of the dice.

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  22. dif start times are for buses. they can share a bus with 7:50 and 9:30 schools and save $. how this will change with neighborhood assignments, i don't know.

    i agree though that schools should be 100% cookie-cutter equal in their offerings (including start times) if you are assigning people. that goes for middle schools too.

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  23. To answer the original question, I would love to get our neighborhood school (West Portal). My understanding from neighbors w/ older children is that in the past, it has been next to impossible to get in in previous years. Of all the older kids on the block, I can think of only one whose child has actually been admitted. It will be interesting to see whether that changes under the new system. There seem to be lots of kids in the neighborhood, and I would imagine in such a big school, there will be lots of siblings applying.

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  24. The West Portal Cantonese Immersion slots will remain citywide, and will not have any preference for local kids. Only the GE seats will have the attendance area tie breaker. You can apply to both GE and Immersion.

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  25. 5:05 perhaps ES start times will be standardized once much of the busing has been phased out over the next few years.

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  26. "But that does not mean it is meaningless."

    Well, much of it is meaningless because it uses as a selling point BS points like "under this initiative siblings would have priority" when they already have priority, and "socioeconomic diversity would be a factor" (hello, wasn't that part of part neighborhood school advocates hated in the old system).

    It's a confused mess, and certainly the signature canvassers for it are confused. One looked at me slack-jawed when I told her that sibling *already* had priority in the current system. If they're volunteers for Students First, they're ignoramuses. If you're paying them, sue the contactor you used for sending canvassers out with disinformation.

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  27. "My understanding from neighbors w/ older children is that in the past, it has been next to impossible to get in in previous years."

    Forget everything you heard under the old system. The dynamics of this one will be very different.

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  28. My daughters go to a District Wide all Spanish Immersion program. Even though it is in our neighborhood, it is not our "neighborhood school." We folks leading tours at the school are very curious to see whether interest (real applications) in the school will increase or decrease as a result of families getting a preference to be admitted to their neighborhood school. Anyone have thoughts on this?

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  29. My sense is that people committed to immersion are very committed, and the new system won't change that. They may feel less desperate though if they are also okay with their neighborhood school.

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  30. 11:32,

    Trying to deride a ballot measure by going after the paid petition gatherers is pretty lame. They are just people trying to make a living and they ususally have no stake in any given measure. They are paid to get signatures. As for Students First members, they did little of the petition gathering. That said, how many petition gatherers did you actually have contact with to make such a general statement?

    Regarding your other criticisms, I will try to correct your misunderstandings. First of all, Students First people have no beef with socioeconomic diversity. In fact they maintain that such diversity will be increased in areas like District 10 by neighborhood placement given the demographics. What you are doing is engaging in stereotyping neighborhood schools advocates as bigots. Thanks for reminding us of where the prejudices remain. Nice try.

    As for your pretty clueless remark about siblings, most people who read the measure would understand that neighborhood school advocates do not intend to place neighborhood kids at the expense of siblings. It is universally accepted that to do so places an undue burden on families that have more than one child in elementary school.

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  31. Hi, 7:27 --
    Interesting question. I'll be curious how applications shake out, too. We're in an immersion program and are very happy with it, but I admit that one (of MANY) factors in choosing it was that we knew it would be easier to get into the program than into our neighborhood school. (The immersion program is a fairly new program, and we just knew our odds were better given past demand.) It's hard to say whether we would have gone for the neighborhood school had we known we had better odds of getting in. Part of it is colored by the fact that the immersion program has worked out so well, so I'd like to say we would have still made that choice. But I can't really say, honestly.

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  32. Following up on my last comment -
    Regarding siblings, why it was included in the measure was to reinforce the fact that there should be no change in that respect. Eventually siblings would sunset out after several years of NS. This goes for choice, too. It is included in the measure because we wanted the electorate to understand that some choice would remain, though clearly it would be impacted.

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  33. We are actually very interested in our assigned school, Daniel Webster, but believe that it's immersion program will be oversubscribed. And I don't think we will place there. He is a November birthday so we are going to wait until 2012 to start him in K but I'm keeping up with the process this year and hoping that he can start a preK program next September if we can get one.

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  34. Regarding the original question: No, our neighborhood school is not at the top of our list, and probably won't be on our list at all.

    To be honest, I feel like under this new system, our chances of getting one of the schools we like are very very low (even lower than before, which is saying something), and we find ourselves very discouraged.

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  35. SomaMum. you may want to look into the Porero Kids at Daniel Webster Preschool. It's a Spanish immersion preschool on the grounds of DW ES, but not a CDC (with associated SAS preference). Many of my Potrero Hill parents seem very happy with their program.

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  36. Potrero hill parent,

    As was discussed on this blog, any public pre k in the school's zone gets preference at the school, not just CDCs.

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  37. He's a horse's ass. Ignore him.

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  38. Potrero Kids @ Daniel Webster is NOT a public preschool-that was Potrero Parent's point when she indicated that there is no associated SAS preference.

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  39. I don't understand. Your saying that Potrero Kids is a private pre-school located in the same facility as the public elementary school?

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  40. I told you he's an asshole. Ignore the troll.

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  41. Potero Hill parents--try checking out the General Education Strand at Starr King. Once upon a time no one would consider Alvarado GE but then some brave middle class parents signed their kids up and the demographics shifted and now it is high demand. If the GE classes at SK were more balanced socio-economically they would become higher demand. This shift is going to happen sooner or later. If there is a group of middle-class Potrero Hill parents thinking about Starr King you might want to consider joining together as parents did at Junipero Serra last year and going into Starr King as a group. It would be great for the school and the kids if there was more balance in Starr King General Education. There is a lot to be said for a school being close to home.

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  42. @Potrero Parent, though I have not investigated fully the Potrero Kids at Daniel Webster from reviewing the website it is also very oversubscribed with perhaps 5 places left for next September and 50 location eligible applicants (who know preK would be more daunting than K?:) Which I think the K class will be also in 2012.
    We will apply though I believe for both the preK there and K. Although even though it is our assigned school it is 2 miles away and difficult to get to by public transportation.

    @Anon 9:20: Starr King was recommended to my by a co-worker. Their kids absolutely love their Immersion program. However it is a bit out of our morning commute comfort zone regarding getting there, dropping another at daycare and getting to work without driving.
    Thank you both for your input ..

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  43. Hey November 18, 2010 2:18 PM

    word.

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  44. Please stop posting these annoying and vulgar troll comments. Let people judge the commentary for themselves. Just my $.02

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  45. Don -- Potrero Kids at Daniel Webster is a private preschool on the same GROUNDS as Daniel Webster, but in a bungalow. From the PKDW website: "PKDW is a unique concept -- a private bilingual preschool located on a public elementary school campus."

    No preference is given to PKDW grads unless they pass the language proficiency test that makes them count as Spanish-fluent, which most of the originally native English speakers do not. Even then they don't have preference for Daniel Webster per se.

    However -- there are rumors of a Potero Hill parent base hoping to go to the GE strand at Daniel Webster and do what was done at Alvarado. That's good news for attendance area parents looking for a GE in 2011. With the Spanish immersion parents already there, it won't take long to equalize the GE program.

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  46. November 17, 2010 2:06 PM --
    I looked at the enrollment guide and online for the subsequent application dates - and couldn't find them. Could you post a page number or a URL?
    Thanks.

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  47. 7:41,

    Thanks for the explanation. That kind of set-up was news to me. I wonder if the preschool has a multi-year lease?

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  48. Oh Don, please leave that preschool alone. I'll deeply regret having said anything to you if you make things hard for them. The PKDW people are doing a great job making Daniel Webster a viable neighborhood school.

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  49. I only asked because I thought that people would want to know if the school has a short lease. If so, they could find themselves looking for a new placement with the way the district handles its real estate. I am happy so many children have found a good preschool to attend.

    How about that scandal that came out this week with the district officials embezzling education dollars to non profits. The Board and the administration tried to keep it under wraps when they should have been the first ones to make it public. It makes Maufas look like a saint.

    We should find out first about it in the NY Times.

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  50. I mean should NOT have to find about about it in NYT.

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  51. And I know it is off topic, but one more thing-

    On her blog Rachel Norton tries to evade responsibility for oversight of such embezzlement. But she's the one who refused to provide public records when I was looking into some other district malfeasance. If she's not going to hand over documents for public review, how can she claim to be a responsible trustee? The Board will try to spin this story to avoid culpability. If they are not responsible and if Garcia as well is not responsible as he would have us believe in his response, who then is responsible to safeguard the public trust? These 5 officials were working right under the Board and Admintration's nose and from what has been reported there has been knowledge of funny things going on in Bascom's department for awhile.

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  52. 9:20:

    Unless you were somehow to change Starr King's location, it's going to be hard to sell the GE strand to the middle class.

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  53. Not true: the Potrero Hill projects are set to be torn down and converted into mixed-income developments. Given the already strong MI strand, Starr King can become an attractive neighborhood school, just like Alvarado and Flynn.

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  54. Starr King is a neighborhood school and the GE strand draws from the current neighborhood population, which is very low income.
    Noe Valley is not anything like the south slope of Potrero Hill. (I know. I actually live here)
    Comparing SK to Alvarado is like comparing apples to oranges.

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  55. Alvarado used to draw from the Sunnydale housing projects; this apparently changed ~5 or so years ago as it became more popular with neighborhood parents. There are many middle-class parents in the condos and small homes on the southern slopes of PH. I agree that Starr King is currently very popular with the largely poor families who live in the nearby Potrero Projects. However, as I noted earlier, those projects are slated to be converted into mixed-income housing in the next few years. I predict that in 5 years, the Starr King GE strand will be far more socioeconomically diverse than is currently the case

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  56. Well as a neighbor I wish them well.
    I was impressed with the old principal and the enthusiastic families who are part of the MI strand, (even though not a good fit for our family). If they can succeed in turning around the GE strand to be attractive to a more diverse population, then it could be a good option. We'll see what actually happens in 5 years.

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