Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Help Me Debunk This Myth!

One of the things I've heard often in the last few weeks is to not register at a school you may not want before going into round 2 because the district has more incentive to place kids that are not already enrolled somewhere (more people in system = more money) than it does kids who are registered somewhere.

I know this isn't posted anywhere. I know it's not the way things are supposed to work. I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory. But I hear it OVER AND OVER AND OVER again!!

So help reassure me this is not the case. Post a comment here and tell us if you registered somewhere, entered round 2 and got one of your round two choices that wasn't the school you had already registered for. Help me debunk this myth!


  1. Hate to say it, but it's not a myth.

    If you are registered somewhere, SFUSD tends to count you as "in" and worries less about making you happy enough to enroll in the system.

    Under the old system, this mattered less in Round 2, but it mattered a great deal when it came to waitpools and the infamous 3-day/10-day/many-day count, which is when free spots are offered after school starts. Since the district hasn't yet said what will happen with waitpools and the three-day count under the new system, it's less clear how it will play out this year.

    You don't need to register at a school to participate in Round 2, so if you really don't like your Round 1 assignment, just don't register and keep trying.

  2. We did not register at our assigned school because we will not send our child there (Chavez) and not because it will make our chances in R2 better.

    I don't think that registering or not will matter in Round 2 which is unfortunate for those of us that will not send our child to the assigned school.

    Besides I think this whole process of matching a R2 application with the R1 application and data from each school about who registered is not simple and a reconciliation nightmare that I think the district is not capable of handling. Maybe I am underestimating SFUSD's operational capabilities ???

  3. I only have anecdotes, but here is my attempt to debunk:

    1. Two years ago, we wanted an immersion program but did not get it in Round #1. Instead, we got the GE program at the same school. We registered for the GE program (and would have happily sent our child there had nothing else worked out), but got the immersion program in Round #2.

    2. That same year, a friend decided not to enroll at the same GE program to which we had been assigned after Round #1, in the hope that it would improve her chances of getting her desired "trophy" school in subsequent rounds. She never got anything and ended up going private.

    3. A friend with a 5th grader got nothing after the first round, enrolled at a school to which her child was assigned after Round #2, then finally got her desired "trophy school" two weeks before school.

    4. And I can think of three other friends off the top of my head who started their children at SFUSD schools but then transferred after the beginning of school after they received offers at their wait pool schools.

    So FWIW, I do think that it's a myth. And if you decline to enroll at a school with the hope that will increase your chances of getting into your desired school, you really run the risk of ending up with nothing.

  4. I think you should show the system some good will and follow the process as SFUSD requests. They're trying to find seats for many, many families. I know the assignment system is flawed but it does not help the process by trying to "game" it to your advantage. I hope your post was to encourage people to act ethically despite their disappointment in their assigned school.

  5. I think its a myth. Why? Because even if SFUSD only had 1 lonely Commodore64 to process all of the R2 amendments, it can't take a whole month to key in all of the data, crunch the numbers, then print out all of the letters.

    Instead, I think they go through several rounds of number crunching until they get a result they like (and can spit out statistics on how successful R2 was).

    So, whether registering for your R1 school hurts your chances of getting something you request in R2 or not depends on when they stop spinning the wheel of fortune.

    On a side note - are you the Emily who posted "Uncertainty is my BFF?" If so, I've read that post at least 10 times because I like your writing style so much.

    Regardless, good luck to everyone with R2!

  6. Registration won't affect Round 2 much. But it DEFINITELY will affect the waitlists and the 3-day-count, like someone else suggested. And once you are registered, it's hard to un-register later in the summer. So proceed with care if you plan to gut it out through the 3-day-count!

  7. EPC lady told me Round 2 works same way as March placement...same tie-breakers will be applies, no preference is given to families that went zero for all their choices as opposed to those that actually got something from their list and want to move higher. She also said if you don't register and don't get your desired school in Round 2 and Round 3 and everyone shows up the first 3 of school, there are no more options, you must wait another year...

    Then I asked her how would SFUSD know if kids showed up the first 3 school days, she hesitated and said the details are still being worked out.

    This says it all. We can speculate all we want but this year is a new guinea pig year and we'll just have to see what happens...

  8. It would be a myth according to my experience last year. Haven't been following the process closely this year since my child is at Sherman now, our 1st choice.

    After 0/7 I registered at assigned school. I think it was several rounds and finally was assigned to Sherman, our first choice, out of the waitpool before school started.

    Two families I know were assigned to same "unacceptable" school after 0/7. They did not register there or anywhere because they had other private options or stronger nerves. They were never assigned to Sherman, but these two families did eventually get in after school started and spaces became available.

    So with this small test pool, THIS conspiracy remains a myth. An opposite theory says, "If you register as opposed to not register anywhere, then it shows you are MORE committed to the system"... and this could work to your favor?

    Yes, I can be more positive now since we are where we want to be! Best to you all-- I remember the pain.

  9. Several people register at our school every year when they are assigned, but they then receive placements in subsequents rounds to other schools that are higher on their list. Of course, we have plenty of people who stay and find out that our school is a pretty darn good place to be.

    We had three friends registered with us (two years ago) who had received our school in Round 2 who eventually wound up moving off to other schools. However, I do think that there might be less trophy school luck in subsequent rounds this time around because everyone has the same shot at it who put in their apps for Round One on time. The war of attrition used to help people who could stand waiting for one school as the pool shrunk for those with priority.

  10. I question why it is even the desired process to go ahead and register at a school if you have NO intention of sending your kid there. Doesn't Round II work better if a true count of all available slots are open. If everyone accepts their spot and tries to trade up there would not be much movement. Right?

  11. I wouldn't register at a school you have no intention of sending your child to. SFUSD will just say that you already have a place, and you'll be stuck there.

  12. It's totally a myth. You will also run into people that will tell you to call the school or district office b/c that helps. It doesn't help and neither does registering or not.

    Good Luck.

    We registered at assigned school last year. Went thru all rounds and started at assigned school. We got the call on Day 4 of school. Transferred to No. 1 choice school on the Friday of the first week. Two other kids started in our class that day too. One had started at assigned school and one had been staying home waiting for the call.

    Everybody I know from last year that was in it til the end got what they wanted. But I had many friends who gave up after Round 1 and went private. I think they were going private anyway.

  13. SFSUD just wants you to register at your assigned school b/c they don't want you to be left with nothing. And you perpective can change from the beginning of the process to late July. At the beginning you may only want Rooftop, Immersion, etc. But later you may have read about, toured, or met parents at other less popular schools that you would consider. The problem is those schools will also be full by late July so you might be kicking yourself then that you didn't sign up for your assigned school like Glen Park, Sunnyside, etc.

    That's all. There is no conspiracy by SFUSD.

  14. Has anyone attended a SFUSD workshop that discusses what happens post Round 3? People are talking about wait pools and 3 day counts but I can't find any mention of these procedures applying to the 2011/12 enrollment cycle.

    Just want to understand what the full options are on this roller coaster ride called SF kindergarten enrollment.

  15. One other option, in the past, was to register at your assigned school, but then not show up for the first three days of school. If you don't show up, you lose the spot at the school. But you still show up on SFUSD's radar as being interested in the public system, and they would continue to include you in waitpools as the 3-day count expired and open spots were offered.

    One twist this year is the big gap (more than two weeks in some cases) between the start of public and private. That means that some public spots won't open up until early September. So if you really want a certain school, you may have to gut it out for a few weeks to see all the open spots that are available.

  16. "One other option, in the past, was to register at your assigned school, but then not show up for the first three days of school..."

    Please keep in mind that this is a huge burden for the assigned school, which is making staffing decisions based on enrollment numbers. A few years ago, a bunch of people who enrolled at my child's school never showed up. Because it's an off-the-radar school, those spots never got filled, and the school had to lay off a teacher b/c its budget was cut due to the lower-than-expected enrollment numbers. Because declining to enroll at a school you have no plans to attend does NOT affect whether SFUSD places you off the wait pools, PLEASE do not enroll if you do not plan to attend.

    "But you still show up on SFUSD's radar as being interested in the public system, and they would continue to include you in waitpools as the 3-day count expired and open spots were offered."

    The way to stay "on SFUSD's radar" is to fill out applications for subsequent rounds and to make sure you hit all the relevant deadlines (available on SFUSD's website). Again, it has NOTHING to do with whether you enroll at your assigned school.

  17. When I dropped off my round 2 form, I said something to the woman about hoping I would get our choice. She said "well, if you don't, just apply again in the next round." So bizarre that this is part of what is to be expected.

    I'm "OK" with the school my daughter got, but am still applying in round 2 for our first choice -- because the commute will be 15 minutes instead of 45.

    One thing that *has* changed this year is that if you apply in round 2, and you "get" one of your round 2 choices, you AUTOMATICALLY get it, and lose what you were assigned in round 1. In past years, you would be given the choice.

    What this means is that if I have school A, but want school B, and someone else has school B and wants school A, the district will have an easier time swapping us, and there should be some more clarity about where the spaces are.

    I don't think there's an advantage to NOT enrolling, at least from a numbers point of view.

  18. "One thing that *has* changed this year is that if you apply in round 2, and you "get" one of your round 2 choices, you AUTOMATICALLY get it, and lose what you were assigned in round 1. In past years, you would be given the choice."

    Actually, that's always been the case for round #2. (It's what happened to us two years ago.) There's been some wiggle room in the past after school starts and things are moving quickly, but for round #2, you've always lost what you had in round #1 if you get what you wanted in round #2.

    Good luck, everyone!

  19. Interesting feedback everyone, thanks for your comments!

    I'm going to register, I was just hoping to stop the rumors. And reassure myself that there isn't some secret numbers game going on at the EPC that nobody is being told about.

    3:32, yes that's me. Thank you, that made me smile.

  20. Emily,

    I believe that means you are going to register for Glen Park right? We are also Miraloma (0 for 10) and were thinking of putting Glen Park down in our Round 2 efforts. So if you do go check out the school, we'd love to get your feedback since your BFF blog was a real hit with us too.

    Anyway, for those who are trying to figure out next steps....
    I heard from someone that attended the SFUSD workshops on enrollment in Round 2 and beyond.

    I didn't realize that if you don't register at your Round 1 assigned school by April 15th, you won't necessarily get it again. That's because in subsequent rounds, the EPC folks say you'll either get something on your list or nothing at all.

    After Round 2 you can go into the open enrollment phase and just see what's available generally. Otherwise you can do another list for Round 3. Those results come out in early August. The EPC reps did not think there would be a whole lot of movement during the summer.

    Then the issue related to the 3 day/5 day/10 day counts will start once school resumes in August. This is the part that they aren't really clear how they will handle. Instead they said they'll likely update their website with information, or you should call their office or schedule a meeting.

    So I'm not sure how it will pan out this year because if you attend your school it doesn't mean you won't get a call for a higher choice school you may want.

    Best of luck!

  21. If you don't intend to go to a school, you should not register there. Nothing to do with gaming the system and everything to do with giving EPC and the public a more accurate sense of the numbers. Also, no one else can get a spot until movement starts happening which means people have to start rejecting their assigned school.

  22. I think there is some truth to the rumor. We got our number 1 school a couple years ago (granted the system was different then)one week into school. Did not register for our assigned school (John Muir) because we had no intention of going there. I called EPC every week just to check on the waitlist numbers, movement, etc. They definitely knew me by name. I emailed people there asking about movement and letting them know I knew there were unfilled seats in the school I wanted. I really think being a little squeaky, but not rude or pushy, and not enrolling anywhere helped me get a spot in my desired school. Also have a handful of friends who didn't enroll in any school and right around beginning of school year they received spots in trophy schools. Coincidence? Maybe. But I really do think there is some truth to it. Just saying.