“I weady!” he answered happily in a three-year-old’s idea of a whisper. He was clutching his little travel backpack, stuffed with a couple of plush animals and two unmatched socks. “I weady to move to a new house!”
He isn’t alone. Since acceptance letters landed in March, my crew has all been getting ready. We’ve decided to move out of the city and head south down to the Peninsula or Silicon Valley.
For some background on our particular situation, here’s a quick recap:
- We both work in Silicon Valley, and are each spending 10-15 hours a week commuting. We are very attached to the city, but as for the drive, well, the word “bummer” doesn’t do it justice. We've been doing it for a few years and are burnt out.
- We toured 15+ public schools in San Francisco. In Round 1, we went 0/10. Here is the list of schools we’d requested.
- In mid-March, we received happier news on the private school side, and were accepted to two SF independent schools that we very much admire. But the price tag for two kids, plus the continued commuting, made us think twice.
- Given that we are CTIP2 and didn’t feel that our assignment boundary school (Sutro) was a good fit, I’d seen the “0/X” bus headed our way last fall, and started looking outside the city in October. As part of that process, we applied to several public magnet school programs in San Mateo, where you don’t have to be a resident to apply. Our five-year-old was accepted to one of the San Mateo-Foster City Montessori magnet school programs in late March.
We also considered the input we’ve gotten from others on this blog, in all its forms. Many of you have provided invaluable advice along the way, and one comment in particular stuck in my head:
I'm one of the bigger boosters of SF publics out there, especially in encouraging people to look beyond trophy schools since we are happily in a non-trophy public. However, if we lived in the Richmond and we had to commute to the Peninsula for work for both of us, there is no way in hell that I would stick around the City. Life is too short to spend 500 plus hours a year in a car (that's twelve weeks of vacation time!).
- March 21, 2011 8:39 PM
And so, we’ve decided, we are headed out. With a good bit of sadness, we declined our private school spots. I’m weeks behind in posting this update because we’ve been concentrating on housing issues -- looking for a new place to rent and arranging for someone to rent out our SF home. We may wind up in San Mateo, but are also taking one last look at two school districts closer to our jobs (Menlo Park and Mountain View) to see if anything there makes sense. In San Mateo, we love the magnet school programs, but it’s further from work. In Menlo Park, the schools are excellent, but it’s less diverse and the real estate situation is tougher than most, which is saying something. In Mountain View, the schools vary in quality, and so we’d need to pick neighborhoods carefully.
In posting this update, I’m in no way advocating a mass exodus from the city. If even one of us worked here, we’d stay. But we have many factors (work, family, and friends) that are pulling us south, and for us, it has wound up making sense. If you are thinking of moving, know that wherever you land, you’ll likely find other SF school transplants. We’ve attended meetings and seminars in several other school districts by now, and at every one, we’ve met former SF families who’ve recently moved. One silver lining of the grueling SF process is that it preps you to be an active, involved school parent, no matter where you land. As one school staffer in San Mateo put it to me, “We love our San Francisco families! They always show up well-informed and ready to pitch in.”
We very much appreciate all of you who’ve taken the time to share comments and advice along the way. I’ve also been lucky to be in great blogging company as well. Donna and Helga, all the best at Aptos and Lawton! Emily, two friends of ours send their kids to Zion and love it, and I hope your son will be very happy there. Aissa, all the best in the move back East! Joseph, huge congratulations on Gateway Charter – I was pulling for you and Ben more than anyone. Becca and Marcia Brady, all the best, wherever you land!
I also hope the very best for all of you fellow “0/X”ers out there who are still in limbo. If nothing else, I very much want to see SFUSD publish a clear explanation of how this year’s process will work in August and September. How many rounds of the “August placement” lottery will there be? Waitlists or no waitlists? Why say the process will end in early September when there will still likely be churn on the private school side and spots opening up for another couple of weeks past that?
Even though we didn’t apply for Round II, we still received a Round II letter of sorts. It informed us that since we hadn’t registered at our school of assignment from Round I, and hadn’t applied in Round II, we now had no school in the SFUSD system. We were encouraged to apply for Round III. But unless the district heard from us, the letter said, our file is now closed.
To that I say: Yes, it is.
With love and respect to my home town, which will always be my home town, no matter where I’m living,
- Seattle and my crew, Portland, Tacoma (5), and Williamette (3)