I'm afraid this is a rather long first post. I've been thinking so much about the search and writing about it that I've been trying to collect too much data, when I need to be collecting feedback from parents with more knowledge about the schools.
To start with a little about us.
My Blogging name is MJ. Myself, my husband and two children (4.5 and 2) live in SOMA.
We are not in CTIP1. We do own our little apartment and are not in any position to move any time soon, and we do not want to move out of the city.
We are lucky to be able to walk to our childrens daycare/preschool and then bus (my husband Downtown) and walk or bus (me to the Mission) to work. We do have a car which we street park, this is relevant to the school search as if we do drop offs by car to school, we will either have to pay for parking near one of our work places or come home look for parking on the street which is difficult at that time of the morning, before we rush off to work.
SOMA as you SFKfiles readers know is a pretty large area with only one elementary school (Bessie Carmichael - citywide) and our AA school for the whole area Daniel Webster in Potrero Hill.
What we are looking for in a school for our son is a great GE program with additional art, music, sport, secondly a guaranteed spot in an after school program which isn't outrageously expensive and thirdly we would like the school to be easily accessible by public transportation or walking so that either of us can do pick ups.
I took some pointers from the responses to Lola's first post which referenced after school care. I will be calling all of the schools on my initial list to see what their aftercare options are before we tour. I will also be attending the Noe Valley School Fair on the 25th, which I am very grateful exists as we hope to have toured our schools of interest before the SFUSD school fair in November. I also added parochial as based on not too much research the cost is comparative with after school care that we would have to pay in some publics. I don't know if parochials offer after school but I'm guessing they do based on other threads on sfkfiles. I've heard that their class sizes are bigger and don't know if this is true. I went to Catholic school in another country and find the Church here quite open to everyone compared to my upbringing so the Catholic values issues that others raise here are not an issue for us. Private is not an option for us.
Our initial list, is ordered in distance from our home and is comprised of schools which are easy to access from our home, on our way to work by walking or public transportation, along with our AA school which is not as close geographically as a number of other schools and is a bit of a trek from downtown if my husband had to pick up or drop off using Muni. So here goes with my list. I'm looking forward to your feedback and any other schools that I may be missing that may suit us. So no "trophies" in our list that I know of and that is fine with me. It means we can concentrate on the 3 items which are important to us without worrying that we will get into the school (hopefully).
Bessie Charmichael - less than half a mile from us. Easy to get to for either parents work. Close to younger childs daycare. Afterschool care is quite high in the $400 range (is that high? I dont' know). There are limited places and priority is given to low income parents, but I think they would like to have a mixed group of kids. I have not toured it and don't know how it stacks up in regards to actual GE. API scores I think are OK. But I don't know how much we should be focusing on those unless they are below 700. Also as a K-8 we don't have to worry at about the Feeder plan.
Tenderloin Community - walkable and closer than our AA school. I think their after school care is open to all students, but I need to research that. I spoke with their principal last year at the SFUSD fair (I went as I thought it would help me this year) and I really liked her. They seem to have wonderful programs outside of pure academics for the children and we will definitely tour it.
Sanchez - yes closer than our AA school! I toured Sanchez last year and I really liked it. The children were all well behaved and happy. I toured on a Friday which is parent involvement day and lots of parents were in the classrooms with the kids. The library was in the process of having a makeover and the children (maybe 4th grade) were learning how to catalogue the books on their individual laptops. They have a part time dance teacher, a gardening teacher, the SF Opera has a program there (I think that is right). They had a plan on the wall for greening their playground and I'm really looking forward to touring this year to see how it turned out. They also have a program where each grade reads the same book and all of the children do a project on it which is displayed in the halls. Maybe this is usual in schools in San Francisco but I am not from the US and thought this was really cool. Sanchez also has after school care available to all children. My only negative on the school was the start time 8am but I did like it very much as my only school tour last year.
Daniel Webster -- our AA school and I know a school with a growing reputation (good). They also I believe have afterschool for all kids at cost but no space limits, once again I need to confirm this. Then the Middle School Feeder Plan was thrown into the mix and ISA was the feeder for Daniel Webster. I am talking myself down and going with the thinking that by the time we get to Middle school this will not be the same ISA test wise and with a 6-12 grade set of kids. I do think the PTA and community are awesome with Daniel Webster and talking to a resident in Potrero Hill with children in High School she said that most of her neighbours agree that if the school as it is now existed when their kids were young they would all have sent them there. I'm really looking forward to touring. It is still not an ideal location for us.
Harvey Milk - The furthest away in our line up but easily accessible from home, downtown and the Mission. After school for all and I believe it is very reasonable if not free? confirmation neeeded. I know there are some issues with the Principal being let go and parents not being informed. Perhaps you readers can give me a better understanding of the school.
Mission Delores - I know nothing about this school except its location and tuition. Who can fill me in?
St. Charles - So close to my work but never listed as desired school. Why? Be kind but honest.
Thats it. Thanks for reading all of the way through this. I'm really looking forward to getting your insights to the schools I have listed and any that I may be missing. I'm excited to share our K journey with you all and hope that we find the best place for our son.