Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And off we go...

I've been a woman on a mission today scheduling school tours. It's good I'm working from home today as my colleagues are pretty much sick of hearing me discuss my kindergarten search.

I have all my tours scheduled now, and look forward to sharing my notes with the rest of the community. I may be too optimistic, but I didn't want to tour a ton of schools. I've spoken to friends and neighbors that attend these schools, so feel comfortable with my list.

As with MJ's post, I've added tour schedules (Hope people find that helpful).

Glen Park
School tours are every Tuesday and start at 9am. The woman on the phone told me they are only scheduling tours through Nov 1 for now

Alvarado
Website has available days of open tours. Appreciated the online scheduling.

Miraloma
Website has available days of open tours. As with Alvarado I appreciated the online scheduling. The tours are self-guided.

St. Philips
You have to call the school to schedule a tour. They are every Tuesday/Thursday.

St. Pauls
Tours are on Wednesday. Call or email the principal to schedule.

Alta Vista
Next tour is November 30, but if this date doesn't work the principal is open to scheduling a tour

Synergy
Their website has available dates. You fill out a form, and someone emails you to confirm the date. I received confirmation within 24 hours.

If there is a school you feel that I should tour that isn't on my list, please leave a comment.

37 comments:

  1. I hope the woman answering the phones there is not indicative of the enthusiasm of the rest of the school staff.

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  2. Meant to say the woman answering the phones at Glen Park.

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  3. She wasn't overly friendly, but she was fine. Luckily a tour date in October worked for me, but if it didn't I could see where it could have been annoying to call back in a few weeks again to schedule a tour.

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  4. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for your post. I know you are Glen Park AA and am looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the tour.

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  5. @3:34

    Thanks. I'm really excited about touring Glen Park. I'm very supportive of going to your neighborhood school for many reasons, so I hope I love it.

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  6. Hi Jo,
    Would you consider touring a charter like Edison or Mission Prep? Mission Prep is very close to Glen Park Elementary School and Edison is on Dolores Street in Noe Valley.

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  7. You owe it to yourself to tour Edison. We are so happy there. The kindergarten teachers are wonderful. The school is K-8, they have a dual language program as well.

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  8. The San Francisco School is fairly close to Glen Park. It's a small private school in Portola. Depending on your commute path, it might be convenient.

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  9. We toured SF School and really liked it. Music program was highlight of tour. In addition to talking to some of the older students there.

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  10. @3:43 and @3:49.

    I will do some research on Edison and Mission Prep.

    @4:14 and @ 4:26

    SF School is unfortunately out of our budget. I know a few families that have older kids there and they love it.

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  11. Jo, looking forward to reading your tour reviews. I've also been hearing great things about your AA school Glen Park.

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  12. Jo,

    By saying you are supportive of going to neighborhood schools you have gained the animus of many readers on the blog who view proximity based assignment systems as enemies of the liberal state.

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  13. Hi Jo, I toured Glen Park this week. Very cute school with lots to offer. Full remodel this past summer. New play structures, computers, asphalt, paint... Huge library, colorful cheery classrooms... I'll post a bigger review soon.

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  14. Thanks for the tip on the charters. We really like Glen Park (not in the AA unfortunately), it has the potential to be a trophy school. It needs more neighbourhood like minded families to get the momentum Miraloma got a few years back.

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  15. About GP....They have no website nor PTA. I guess they have a relatively new GPPTO. How much money are they raising annually? Are there plans to create website and facilitate communication, event updates, information, etc? Seems like they are a bit behind in utilizing technology. One of the things that I am impressed with some of the schools we like is how progressive they seem in terms of technology, organizing, ....Have been underwhelmed by what little I can find about GP and have heard the Principal is very "old school" and not really pushing for progression.

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  16. GP does has a PTO which as the principal explained is not state run like a PTA but more grassroots. I met the president several times. They are just getting started it's true. I think the bigger question is how they spend the money and on what rather than how much they have. If a school has $$$ but only spends on dance, is that a good fit for you? Or if a school has less funds but spreads it around more, maybe that's a better fit.

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  17. Regarding technology -- keep in mind, that's stuff that's geared toward the parents. Your child is not really going to be aware whether the parents have access to an online Google calendar that can be synced with your iPhone (or whatever). I know that having a slick website can be a sign that there is an organized parent organization at the school, but I find it's important not to lose focus on what experiences your child will be having. Not to sounds like a Luddite, but sometimes a paper newsletter can be much more effective than a stream of e-mails from a Yahoo group that no one reads.

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  18. So I am not saying that a slick website is indicative of the education kids will receive. It's just that the schools that do have the technology in place, seem to have a very cohesive community feel and information more easily accessible. Is there any emphasis on tech at GP? Are you able to communicate with teachers via email?

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  19. Is there any emphasis on tech at GP? Are you able to communicate with teachers via email?

    GlenParkSchool parent here: We have a computer lab (complete with new computers). Each classroom has computers and each classroom is wired for modern technology. The upper grades seem to use them more frequently than the lower grades (when the teachers tend towards more hands-on learning) - though I think every class goes once a week to the lab. The teachers have been putting up DonorsChoose requests for smartboard and document cameras on an individual basis. We have SchoolLoop - which enables you to email teachers and the teachers give out their district email addresses. We have a Facebook page for the PTO (http://www.facebook.com/glenparkpto) were we post event information, a google group for our PTO that we use to communicate, and we try to make use of the local parent message boards (like the glenparkparents yahoo group) to get the word out about events. The PTO will someday have a website, but that's a back burner project for a parent volunteer.

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  20. We are very happy at Edison Charter. Our son is in kindergarten and so far we love it. Great teachers, remodeled school, NO LOTTERY to get in...

    I am just trying to spread the word.

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  21. 4:48, don't be silly. Of course there's a lottery to get into Edison, as any other charter school. It may be that Edison admits everyone who applies, so your chances in its lottery are 100% but I promise you, there's a lottery.

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  22. Thanks for the info 4:42! Nice to hear they have computer lab. I do want my kids to learn the basics. But tech is basic in this day and age.

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  23. I would tour Fairmount, Rooftop, Clarendon and possibly Edison Charter School on Dolores. Best of luck!

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  24. I'm pretty sure there is no lottery for Edison. It's definitely not the standard SF lottery, and so far it seems reasonably feasible to get in... The new building is awesome...

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  25. Jo,
    Sunnyside, Milk, and SF Community might be worth a look if they are easy commutes.
    Edison is a charter. It does have a lottery process but it is not part of the SFUSD lottery. To apply, you have to fill out their application. The same is true for Mission Prep. One interesting thing to find out is if Edison and Charter use the same tie-breakers as SFUSD. They don't have attendance areas. But I'm wondering if they use CTIP1 and SFUSD preschool as any sort of factor within their specific lottery. Maybe if one of the bloggers tours the charters they can ask about their lottery process and how its different than the SFUSD process.

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  26. If you don't live in Miraloma district and you are not CTIP1, is there even a reason to try to get in? If it's oversubscribed, wouldn't placements that are left over or become available only goes to those in the AA?

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  27. For the publics, it looks like you're using API for screening, and that's gonna be misleading for you (Miraloma's was south of 700 not too long ago).

    Also look at Mission Dolores, St. Finn Barr (one hour of Spanish/day), Monroe, Longfellow, Fairmount, SF Community, Harvey Milk, McKinley, Junipero Serra.

    "Mission Prep is very close to Glen Park Elementary School and Edison is on Dolores Street in Noe Valley."

    Mission Prep's taking over the old Corpus Christi campus, which was a well respected school. If Corpus Christi, and nearby St. Elizabeth's went belly-up because of lack of demand, then it's hard to see how Mission Prep succeeds, especially as there's several strong public schools nearby (Monroe, Taylor, Longfellow).

    And Edison has had no lottery to get in because *not a lot of people applied*.

    Both Edison and Mission Prep got denied charters by the city. Mission Prep because of the non-standard way they were doing language education and their lack of ability to show community support. So they went to the state for their charters.

    In general, charters have struggled to find a niche in this city because, unlike other cities, we have a choice/lottery system. CAC has succeeded, with bumps in the road. But Edison has struggled to get community support. We'll see if Mission Prep has the same difficulties.

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  28. "If you don't live in Miraloma district and you are not CTIP1, is there even a reason to try to get in? If it's oversubscribed, wouldn't placements that are left over or become available only goes to those in the AA?"

    There are technical reasons why it can happen that someone not in the AA can get in even if some AA parents did not, because of a pairwise "swaps" the algorithm does to get families higher priorities on their lists.

    Also, Miraloma and Clarendon were heavily sibbed out last year; both were schools that had a large number of out-of-AA sibs. This will drop off in subsequent years in the new neighborhood-based system.

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  29. "There are technical reasons why it can happen that someone not in the AA can get in even if some AA parents did not, because of a pairwise "swaps" the algorithm does to get families higher priorities on their lists."

    Can you elaborate? Not sure I understand this.

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  30. Jo,
    There is a post in the forum about chances of getting into schools on the poster's list. The poster gives percentage chances of getting into certain schools if you do not have any preferences within the system. You might find it helpful. The poster's name is Nandie.

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  31. Sorry search for "Nandie" gives no results.

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  32. San Francisco School has a pretty generous financial aid program, you might qualify and not even realize it.

    We live in Glen Park too and got GP on the first round and Starr King MI on the second round. We were ready to go to GP and liked it quite a bit but really wanted immersion.

    Are you interested in any K-8 schools? How about immersion? If you want Spanish immersion, Fairmount and Alvarado SI are both pretty close. We listed them #1 and #2. You might want to consider Buena Vista, though it filled up with CTIP-1 kids last year.

    Don't get discouraged: fully half of our friends ended up where they wanted in the second and third rounds.

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  33. The post by Nandie in forums is called:
    "my chances at winning a spot at schools on my list"

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  34. Thanks, found it!

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  35. Edison is not part of the SFUSD lottery. It is a city charter school. To apply, we asked for an application. It was that easy. Edison was at first denied a city charter because it could not prove it's financial history, due to the Edison Learning Company. It is now a city charter.

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  36. SF School has the best indexed tuition program in the city. If you don't mind doing the paperwork, it's probably worth a try (even if you think you wouldn't qualify.) You might be surprised. :)

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  37. I'd recommend adding Creative Arts Charter School to your tour list; tours are most Friday mornings and there's a schedule on the website. Like Edison, it's a Charter, but with a project based, arts immersion approach to education; from your list I'd say it's closest in approach to Synergy, but unlike Synergy, there's no tuition. My kid has been there five years and we are really happy. We'll have two kindergarten classes next year, so though it's a lottery (it's own lottery separate from the district), there will be a lot of spaces. When we were looking for a school, it was the last place I toured but immediately became my first choice.

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