A commenter asked if I could share some notes on McKinley since apparently tours have ended and he or she won’t be able to get there. Unfortunately, I toured McKinley a year ago and my notes aren’t the greatest (and I believe the principal has changed since), but I’ll offer a brief description and maybe if any of the other blogging parents have been to McKinley, they could weigh in as well.
My tour at McKinley definitely stands out in my memory if for no other reason than because the building is cra-cra-cra-zy. It is some serious 70’s business in there! You enter through a very normal looking front hallway with an office, but that leads into an unusual space, an open sunken library that is the center of the school. The wood paneling and orange accents reminded me of a ski lodge (and also my parents’ kitchen but that’s another story). Classrooms radiate out from that center library area on the first floor, and then I think there’s a separate second floor you reach by stairway. There’s also a multi-purpose room that functions as a cafeteria, gym, and auditorium as needed. The floorplan could be funky and great, but parts of the school felt a little dilapidated and some of the classrooms felt a little crowded and cramped. One parent mentioned that the school was going to have new windows put in that should bring more light into classrooms, so that sounded great. The play yards are spacious but didn’t blow me away either; but again, I think a greening project is underway.
I definitely perked up when talking to current parents leading the tour, who were incredibly enthusiastic about the school, possibly the most enthusiastic of all of the tour-giving parents I have met. According to them, some of the school’s highlights include the strong parent community committed to both academic excellence and equity for students from different backgrounds, the school’s relationship with Mission Science Workshop, a strong set of teachers, and the school’s Spanish and Mandarin afterschool immersion programs. I was especially interested in the Mission Science Workshop connection, but I can’t say I totally understand what the program offers, I would love to hear more if anyone out there wants to comment.
The Mission Science Workshop activities are funded by the McKinley PTA, which has gotten increasingly strong over the past few years. It sounds like they are turning into a real powerhouse and they also seem to have some of the most creative and fun-sounding events in the whole city. Several times over the past few years, they have hosted an event where candidates for citywide office like Mayor or Board of Education participate in a big car wash. I have heard that DogFest, the annual dog show slash festival held at Duboce Park in the spring (looks like the next DogFest is coming up April 13, 2013) is really fun AND raises $90,000, which is amazing (if that’s true, I think I heard that third-hand, so take that with a grain of salt). A note on the McKinley website mentions that a direct appeal to parents asking them to give this fall yielded $88,000. Wow. With only about 350 students, that works out to an average of about $250 per kid (not per family). That kind of blows me away. Of course, a lot of PTA money doesn’t mean much if it’s not spent well, but it certainly sounds like McKinley parents are active and committed participants at the school as well (there were quite a few parents participating on that tour).
I don't have much on arts or other extras but I did gather some limited information about the afterschool program. It sounds like there are clubs that meet until 3, the Mandarin and Spanish immersion programs are offered afterschool 4 days a week, and there’s also a regular non-immersion afterschool program that goes from 1:50 (McKinley has an early start time so also an early end time) until 6. I don’t think I got any information on cost.
So, that’s what I have on McKinley. I didn’t fall in love with the building the same way I did some other schools, but there’s a lot to like. Oh! And a family I know socially told me that one of their kid’s best teachers at another school is now at McKinley--hard to beat that.
Any other thoughts on McKinley?
As for me, there are a number of schools I wish I had time to tour before the deadline to enter the lottery, but I don’t think I’ll get to all of them. Below are the top ones I’d like to get to--has anyone out there been on a tour at any of these? Any current parents want to offer their perspective? Any insights would be great.
Rosa Parks (JBBP and General Education)