Thanks to Kate for turning on comments again.
Its been a busy 2 months for us. I toured a school not on my original list and turned in our application last week. I haven't had a chance to add my school tour notes but here is a summary with my list.
A quick summary shows that our top choices are small schools, Middle School Feeders also affected our choice. Afterschool care cost also a factor, any afterschool care run by the CDCs at the school would be in the $460 range for us, and that would be difficult for us at this time.
Sanchez: Our top choice. It is easy to get to on Muni for us (we are close to Market Street and the F runs frequently enough). My husband and I toured separately and both were very impressed with the principal Dr. Isola. The FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) program is a big draw for us. We didn't think full immersion is right for our son but 3 hours a week we think will be great. The api scores do not bother us, our visits to the school show a dedicated staff and happy students who are learning and respectful. They have dance, gardening/science, computer, library time for all grades. I also think that this is a school we can get into in the first round which is a big deal for us. The afterschool care is open to all students and at this time is free to all students, which is huge for us. I feel I need to write up a longer review of this school which is one I hear referred to frequently as a terrible school, and I saw nothing on my tour that makes it terrible (except api). The one con is the start time 7:50, but with it being so easy to get to and not out of the way for my husband or I to get to work and drop our younger son at daycare it is doable. Everett is the feeder Middle School, I do like to think of my children in schools next to each other when the older one moves into Middle School. 2 GE K classes, 1 Spanish Bilingual K, 1 special Ed class (K, 1, 2). There is a PTA and all goals are posted in the school corridors, along with art, poetry and essays by the children.
Harvey Milk: I love the small size and huge parent/community involvement. Work on a water garden was in progress when we visited. We visited many classrooms and had Q&A with the 5th Graders. It is a little more difficult for us to get to on public transportation, but still doable with a later start time of 9:20 (or is it 9:30?). Afterschool care asks for an $80 donation a month. The principal is new to the school in 2011 and met with the touring parents. Everett is the Middle School from the Feeder plan. 2 GE K classes.
McKinley: This seems like a fantastic school as well with a huge parent/community involvement. Early start time 7:50am. Quite a few afterschool options, including language and reasonable cost around $230, but if you mix the programs it will cost a little more. E.g. Language is Monday to Thursday, if you need additional care on Friday you can pay extra. The principal met with the touring parents at the beginning of the tour. Putting this school down was a long shot as it is oversubscribed AND we didn't put it first. It is also not that easy to get to on public transportation, parking is pretty difficult (I got a ticket on the tour), I'm not sure if there is a rolling drop off like some other schools had. Everett is also the Middle School on this and from what I overheard on tour parents are not happy about this. 3 K GE classes.
Daniel Webster: Our Assignment area school. Again small school, but only 1 K class out of 3 is GE. ISA is the feeder Middle school, but it is also a High School. I'm not happy with that. This is also not as easy to to get to for us, however the start time is great 8:40.
Schools we did not list and why
Bessie Carmichael: 4 K classes, the school just seemed too big. It also seems disorganized. My first tour which I scheduled early in the search process was not successful as either the office had not notified the principal or they did not notify me that he was not available. So it was a bit of a panic when I showed up. The parent liason stepped up to show me the school but was unable to answer most of my questions regarding education/discipline. On my second tour which was led by the Vice Principal we only saw the K classes, I thought this was odd as on every other tour I have been welcome in all classrooms. But I do know that other schools do not do this either. I just didn't get a sense that this would be a good place for my son. I wanted to love this school, however the size and the afterschool fees (CDC) are just not a fit for us.
Tenderloin Community: I posted a review for this school and I did really like it. But 4 K classes seems too big, the Feeder school is Francisco which is also a negative for us due to location.
I'm really happy with our choices, I'm was also pleasantly surprise after all the negative things I've heard about the SFUSD schools to have seen such great schools, everyone that we visited had teachers who had the children engaged in learning. All of the children seemed to be learning the same things when we visited. This was not as daunting as I first thought.
Good luck everyone, and if you have feedback on my selections please share.