Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New school in the Sunset?

This from a reader:
It looks like SFUSD has some capacity to open a new elementary school in an over subscribed part of the city.

This is from Rachel Norton's blog, reporting on last week's Board of Ed meeting:

"Another contingent of people came to protest the district’s decision to move the Principal’s Center Collaborative school – a county program for juvenile offenders on probation – from dilapidated trailers in the outer Sunset to the newly-retrofitted and currently empty facility on 7th Ave. The Inner Sunset neighbors are upset because they believe the district should use the facility for an elementary school, and because they are worried about the behavior of the students who will attend the facility.

I am skeptical of the claim that the Inner Sunset needs an elementary school — it’s true that Jefferson and Alice Fong Yu are highly-requested schools in the area, but they are requested by people all over the City, not just the Inner Sunset. I plan to ask staff the question for the most recent assignment round — how many K applications did we receive from the assignment areas bordering the 7th Ave. site that listed their local schools? We’ll see. But I do resent the suggestion that the Principal’s Center students will be a disruptive influence in the neighborhood. They are students who have made mistakes and are trying to get their lives back together – they deserve the benefit of the doubt. (In the time I’ve been on the Board I have not heard of or received a complaint from neighbors of the current site -tomorrow I’ll check with staff for a deeper history.) And Principal’s Center is not a “drug treatment program” as one speaker claimed — it is a highly-regarded program for at-risk youth that is administered by the Probation Department in partnership with SFUSD. We have an obligation to provide them with a facility and the one they are currently in is not acceptable for their needs. 7th Avenue is available, and suits their needs. Of course, we also have an obligation to be a good neighbor and I believe our staff is trying to work with the neighbors on legitimate concerns."

What do SF K Files readers think - is there demand for an elementary school at the newly retrofitted 7th and Judah site? People who didn't get into Grattan, Jefferson, New Traditions, even Clarendon, would this location appeal to you?

13 comments:

  1. I think the key words are "some capacity". The fact that the District has space appropriate for the Principal's Center doesn't mean it has space for an elementary school on the same site. It's not a simple trade off.

    The Principal's Center has a fairly small adolescent population. An elementary school would almost certainly be larger and definitely serve younger students.

    Even if a site is newly retrofitted it is not necessarily elementary school ready. Does it have adequate bathrooms - preferably some attached to classrooms so that they can serve as Kindergartens with ease? Is there a play structure? A large cafeteria or cafeteria/auditorium for lunch and performances? The Principal's Center doesn't need these things.

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  2. I seem to recall Rachel Norton favored neighborhood schools ... when she was running for the BoE. As it is, the Issues portion of her blog says: "There are a number of approaches I believe have merit, including assignment clusters or perhaps a simple lottery with a certain percentage of seats set aside for neighborhood schools."

    So Rachel Norton is either for neighborhood schools or she's not. If she's for them, as her blog suggests, then she's for them and she should support them. If she's not, then she should say so and not try to hide behind cherry-picked statistics from the recent lottery.

    For my anonymous part, I think that it's obvious, simply obvious that if the District put a GE school at the 7th Ave location it would fill up. It's that simple. It would fill up. If you put one next door to it, it would fill up.

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  3. Don't know anything about the specific facility, but there seem to be a lot of middle-class people with kids in the Inner Sunset/Cole Valley/Parnassus Heights area who could easily fill another public school. DeAvila Chinese Immersion on the west side of Buena Vista Park in the upper Haight with its rocking principal and engaged parent community has become a super-hot ticket for the middle class and it's just barely open. Jefferson and AFY are other high demand schools. If you open a school that appeals to the middle class in that area, you might pull some folks out of parochials like St. Anne's.

    I think the point raised by the earlier poster about suitability of the facility is 100% valid. In these days of tight budgets, if the physical plant would require expensive retrofitting and construction to meet elementary school needs, it would not be ideal. Elementary schools need play structures and classrooms for grades K-1 or K-2 (can't remember the exact rule about grades) on the ground floor for fire safety reasons. I don't know if in-classroom bathrooms are required for K but they're certainly desirable.

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  4. cynical about politiciansApril 27, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    My guess would be that Rachel favors neighborhood schools, as do most of her Westside neighbors. IMO, she seemed overly concerned about the complaints of Clarendon neighbors excluded from "their" neighborhood school. OTOH, she is well aware that middle-class parents residing in Noe, Bernal and Potrero do vote, so she's reluctant to advocate a pure neighborhood assignment process.

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  5. sock puppets abound ...

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  6. Rooftop, one of the most highly requested schools, does not have a play structure. Play structures are nice to have but obviously not mandatory.

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  7. Rooftop has a lovely, highly popular play structure that was new last year (and an older less lovely one before that). The middle school campus does not have a play structure.

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  9. I think it is entirely appropriate for Rachel to be concerned about what happened at Clarendon. I don't think anyone thought that 50% of a school in a non-CTIP 1 area would be claimed by CTIP 1 families -- and that's what happened at Clarendon. That's just wrong, and I'm glad she's trying to address it.

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  10. There are people in the Sunset who are sent to the Mission or Excelsior and either damage our environment driving there, adding to traffic, or go private or move. We need another school to guarantee that any family in the Sunset can at least get an elementary school somewhere in the Sunset. The District is recognizing that they need to do a better job of keeping families in San Francisco and having more children and families here.

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  11. 2:55, I would wager that very few families in the Sunset actually accept non-immersion spots at Excelsior or Mission ESs; they insstead opt for one of the many parochial schools in the Sunset or play the SFUSD waiting game.

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  12. Are they insane? The noise, graffti, car break-ins, litter (esp. fast-food wrappers) will make the neighborhood hell. Wish they would put these kids in Pacific Heights!

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  13. Happened to drive by this building today. It's totally gutted and will be totally remodeled from the studs. I could see all the way through the building from 6th to 7th Ave. This is much more work than I saw at other schools when I was touring.

    Seems like a big investment to hand off to non-profit to operate. I heard the Principal Center is partnering with Big Picture Schools who run Charter Schools elsewhere in the country. Not sure if they went through the Charter School process, though.

    It's a blank space that could be easily made to accommodate a new elementary school or small middle school. For most of the Inner Sunset, the neighborhood school is Clarendon of which there was no room for neighborhood kids.

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