Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tech Search Party 4.0 on Feb 2!


Tech Search Party 4.0!

Tech Search Party is an annual scavenger hunt fundraiser that takes place in Noe Valley.  All funds raised go to Alvarado Elementary, Marshall Elementary and James Lick Middle School.

The affair kicks off at James Lick Middle School and concludes two hours later at The Valley Tavern.  All teams need at least one smartphone.  There are prices for the top three teams and the best team name.  Details, registration and more at www.techsearchparty.com

Date:   Saturday February 2
Time:  5:30 - 8:00 pm
Location:  1220 Noe Street, at 25th
Fee:  $50 for teams up to four; $75 for teams up to six
Registration:  www.techsearchparty.com  on-site registration available

Have fun!  And for those that participate, please report back on the event!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Readers - Post Your List!

Hey Readers.  Now that the deadline has passed for Round I at SFUSD, post your list!
Let the other readers know which schools you choose for your child and why.  And to everyone - Good Luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SFUSD Application Due Today!

If you haven't done so already, please go to 555 Franklin *TODAY* to drop off you round I application!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Claire Lilienthal: Korean Immersion in an LBGT-friendly, Racially Diverse K-8 School

As requested by a reader. This review focuses on the Korean immersion program.

You should consider this school if you're looking for:  Korean immersion, LGBT-supportive administration, strong parent community, K-8 school with separate campus for K-2, early start time

The Facts

Web site: ClaireLilienthal.org
Location: 3950 Sacramento Street (K-2), 3630 Divisadero Street (3-8)
Grades: K–8
School Hours: 7:30-1:15
Before/After-school program: CLASP (K-2), Excel (3-8)
Kindergarten size:  4 classes of 22 students-3 Gen Ed, 1 Korean Immersion
Playground: courtyard, blacktop terrace with garden and play structure
Language: Korean immersion (1 class)

Overview


As our tour entered the courtyard of Claire Lilienthal's K-2 campus, we heard "Gangnam Style" playing softly, background music for the PE class going on in the courtyard.   The PE teacher had chosen a wordless version, fortunately so, because many of her kindergarteners would have understood the lyrics.

Claire Lilienthal offers Korean language immersion in a racially diverse, high-performing K -8 environment with LGBT-friendly administration and strong parent community. The separate K-2 campus offers an easier transition to "big kids school" and a more intimate setting geared to the younger students. What’s not to like?

Well, lukewarm SFUSD support for the Korean immersion, large classroom sizes in the upper grades, and for many of us, 7:30 start time. Is language immersion worth wanting to poke your eyes out at 6AM for the next 9 years?

Korean Immersion Program (KIP): Earlier Biliteracy?

This video created by SFKIEA, a foundation created by CL parents to support KIP, gives a look at the program in action including classroom footage and a teacher interview. It was created to build support for a Korean middle school program, which SFUSD just approved for SY2013-14.


Korean Immersion Program (KIP) at Claire Lilienthal from Hannah Levinson on Vimeo.

The program starts 70% Korean/30% English, then goes to 50%/50% by 5th grade. There is one class per grade from K-3, then a single large 4th/5th grade class. See the KIP Handbook for details. Korean immersion officially goes only to 5th grade, although the PTA has funded some degree of middle school Korean instruction in the past.

Korean uses a phonetic alphabet that's nearly as consistent as Spanish. This means that students may become literate sooner than with Chinese characters, as anyone who's relied on pinyin would attest. It also makes "reading" more accessible to parents, who can learn the alphabet to help their child. Looking at the KIP New Parent Guide, this is supported, perhaps expected.

We did not get to enter a Korean class in action, as we toured the kindergarten classroom while they were at PE. Looking at the room 3 months into the year, the level of literacy expected seemed higher than the equivalent Chinese classrooms I'd seen. Word lists of all kinds were posted all over the room; the students' names were in English and Korean on their desks as well as on their art projects hanging from the ceiling, and there was a collection of children's books in Korean on the shelf.

For what it's worth, if you get into KIP, your child will likely end up with a cohort of high-performing students, as Koreans are one of the two highest performing ethnic groups in SFUSD for grades 2-5. The other is Japanese. The effect of this on the pace of classroom instruction and differentiation is unclear. See “The Numbers” section at the end to see CST scores for Korean students at Claire Lilienthal vs elsewhere in SFUSD.

What's SFUSD’s Commitment to Korean Immersion? (revised 9/2013)

At the time this review was originally written, SFUSD support for Korean immersion had been less robust than for other languages. Scrambling for funding for KIP was a recurring theme in both PTA minutes and SSC minutes. There was no SFUSD funding for 6th-8th grade Korean language pathway, even as SFUSD planned a Mandarin middle school language pathway.

The very fact that KIP's 4th and 5th grades are combined into one large class, with 38 students in 2009, was in contrast to Starr King, where the PTA raises money for a an extra teacher to keep the Mandarin 4th and 5th grade classes small (around 15 each). Looking at Claire Lilienthal's PTA minutes, it seems that even the existing Korean staffing was not fully funded by SFUSD for 2012-13. Emergency funding from the PTA and the Korean Consulate made up for the shortfall.

This raised the question of whether there declining support by the administration or PTA for KIP. It's bad enough to have to raise money for your child's art, music and PE teachers. If you chose KIP, would you have to raise money for your child's regular teacher too?

A parent-created foundation, SFKIEA, formed in Fall 2012 with the goal of establishing long-term funding for the Korean immersion program, with apparent success. A letter to parents from the principal in the 4/3/2013 CL weekly bulletin said,"We thank the San Francisco Unified School District for providing additional funding, over and above our usual 'Weighted Student Formula' funding, to support an additional teacher in the 4th/5th KIP and Middle School Korean Language Pathway, for the first time in the history of Claire Lilienthal...We thank the coordinated efforts of parents and teachers working in partnership with the school and district administration to make this happen."

Although both JBBP programs at  Clarendon and Parks have separate parent organizations, the creation of SFKIEA appeared to stir up controversy within the larger Claire Lilienthal community. The Claire Lilienthal PTA then contemplated whether it should also form a foundation, but ultimately decided not to.

Parent Involvement

Claire Lilienthal identifies itself as a "Parent Partnership" school.  It seems to be a tight-knit social community as well, with Saturday socials where parents meet to sew quilts, and regular fundraisers double as social events.  In line with this, Lilienthal had the most open, available-to-the-public PTA minutes on its website of any school I looked at.

For the 2010-11 school year, the PTA (EIN 94-2954256)  raised $261k and spent $235k on programs, according to their 2010 IRS report. A third of their budget goes to fund PE and outdoor education aka field trips, with scholarships for needy students. The PTA also covers equipment purchases, arts education, the green schoolyard coordinator, a librarian, and a $1000 classroom supplies fund for each teacher.

Enrichment: Art, Music and Overnight Camping Trips

The artist-in-residence program brings one 12 week program per year for all students: drumming for kindergarten, ceramics/visual arts for 1st grade, dance for 2nd grade, visual arts for 3rd grade, and theater arts for 4th and 5th grades. 6th-8th graders can take an elective in musical theater. It struck me as being light on visual arts, perhaps because visual arts are easier to integrate into the regular curriculum than performing arts. I was a little disappointed because my child loves arts and crafts, and hates being the center of attention. But who know what will happen by 4th grade?

For music, K-2 has chorus, and grades 3-5 get the standard SFUSD instrumental music offering. The school participates in the Adventures in Music program with the SF Symphony.

PE takes place in the courtyard. I was underwhelmed by the PE instruction we saw during the tour; I didn’t see much aerobic activity or running around. First the kids stood around and half-heartedly hulahooped, then when it started to sprinkle, they stood under the eaves and played with various hand toys the ball on a string connected to a cup. Many of the classrooms open directly onto the courtyard, and I wondered if this limits the range of PE activities on the K-2 campus.

The Outdoor Education program sounds incredible.  It starts with day-long field trips for K-2 like hiking in Angel Island for 1st grade and Slide Ranch in 2nd. Third-6th graders go on a 3-4 night camping trip each year. Seventh graders go to Yosemite for a week, and 8th graders go to the Catalina Island Environmental Leadership program for a week. Families are expected to pay for these trips, which cost $600 by 7th-8th grade, but the PTA provides scholarship money. Of note: the cost of subsidizing Outdoor Education has been an issue for the PTA in the past, potentially affecting funds available for other areas.

Diversity

When I asked about LGBT support, the principal responded very positively, and emphasized that LGBT families are very active at and involved with the school and are an integral part of the community. It was by far the most affirming and welcoming response I've received on the public school tours.

The Korean kindergarten class I saw in the courtyard was almost entirely Asian or biracial, but this is within a school setting that is much more diverse. Claire Lilienthal is one of few SFUSD elementary schools where all major ethnic groups represented, with no clear majority group. There is some interaction between KIP and Gen Ed, especially during a week of "integration" where they mix up students to do projects with different teachers.

The principal, who is mostly based at the Scott campus for grades 3-8 this year, who seemed well-liked overall, appeared to have an especially good relationship with the African American students. Several got his attention to say hi as he took us around, and one banged on the window of the library while he was talking, to get his attention.

The student body is less poor than SFUSD for all racial groups.  For example, Latino and African American students at Claire Lilienthal are less likely to be economically disadvantaged than Latinos and African Americans in SFUSD as a whole. So while it's racially diverse, the classrooms don't have the extremes of affluence and poverty that were evident at Starr King, for example.

A potential disadvantage is that if you are looking for a sizable Chinese population, Claire Lilienthal is only 8% Chinese. On the other hand, if you are seeking a Korean population, Claire Lilienthal is the clear choice. It is 16% Korean, with  a third of SFUSD’s K-8 Korean enrollment. The next closest schools are Clarendon and Lakeshore at 2%. (For those looking at JBBP, a similar pattern exists at Clarendon and Rosa Parks, both 14% Japanese with a relatively low percentage of Chinese students. Clarendon and Rosa Parks between them have 38% of SFUSD’s Japanese K-5 enrollment.)

Hard of Hearing/Inclusion

Claire Lilienthal's facilities were "acoustically modified" for hard of hearing students. Some teachers are familiar with FM amplification systems, and so forth, to support hard of hearing students. The bonus is that the acoustic modifications create a better learning environment for all students.

When looking at CST test takers for grades 2-5, Claire Lilienthal has an unusually high percentage of students with disabilities--14%, compared to 8% for Clarendon, 4% at Buena Vista, 3% at Alice Fong Yu, and 0% at CIS.   I don't know how many of the students with disabilities have hearing impairment.

Facilities

The school is divided into 2 campuses, K-2 and 3-8. I only saw the K-2 campus. The K-2 school is arranged around a central courtyard. Like Alice Fong Yu, there are covered walkways on all four sides of the courtyard, including the upper levels. Two sides are made up of a charming older building with beautiful old tilework. The other 2 sides are new construction matching the architecture of the old building.

The older building includes an auditorium that is also used as a lunchroom. I especially liked that children get to sit down at tables inside to eat, unlike other schools I saw.

The library was unusually large and pleasant, one of the largest I've seen, which was especially impressive for just grades K-2. It has a separate computer alcove/area with 14 computers for students, all with purchased by the PTA.

There is a small garden area in process that looks like it will be very attractive once finished. In general, there is relatively little open space, just the courtyard and an upper blacktop with the garden and a playstructure.

According to Lilienthal's SARC, the Grade 3-8 campus in the Marina is a less lovely, less well-maintained 1930s building. The building is not large enough to accomodate all the students, so 8 bungalows arranged around the yard, a large unbroken expanse of blacktop with no visible greening on Google Maps.

Large Classroom Sizes in the Upper Grades?

Claire Lilienthal's 4 kindergarten classes (88 students) do not translate nicely into a multiple of 33 when classroom sizes increase in 4th/5th grade. All the other K-8 schools except Carmichael have 3 kindergarten classes of 22 , which conveniently turns into 2 classes of 33 in 4th grade. The KIP students appear to take the brunt of this awkward shift in 4th and 5th grade, forming a large combined 4th-5th grade class that pushes 40 students.  This allows the 3 Gen Ed kindergarten classes (66 students) nicely turn into 2 classes of 33 or less.

SFUSD relies on attrition to get the total grade enrollment at Claire Lilienthal down to 66 by 6th grade, with varying degrees of success. This results in potentially larger class sizes. Old PTA minutes mention concerns about a "bubble class" that still had 85 students in 5th grade. Last year, about 40% of the core classes from grades 6-8 had over 33 students per class according to their SARC--probably the 6th grade classes.

The ability to decrease class size in the upper grades is also limited by physical space: even with 66 students per grade, the upper school is overflowing. Eight bungalows already occupy its large schoolyard.


Middle School: Where All The Children Are Above Average?

All classes are taught at the honors level in middle school. This seems a bit disingenuous to me, especially given the unusually high percentage of 2nd-5th graders with identified disabilities (14%). Many of the students may be deaf or hard of hearing, as opposed to having learning disabilities, but I was skeptical that "honors for all" classes would be as challenging as the GATE classes at larger middle schools.  

Getting In: Nice School If You Can Get It

Because SFUSD relies on attrition to decrease the enrollment from 88 to 66 by 6th grade, Claire Lilienthal is not only one of the most popular schools for kindergarten, it is also one of the most difficult to transfer into. According to the principal, when students leave in the younger grades, they are not replaced. The assistant principal explicitly said during the tour that students are not allowed to transfer from KIP into general education, as in the past, some families had applied to KIP just to get into Claire Lilienthal, then requested a switch. In practice, students who are struggling in Korean immersion are given the opportunity to transfer to general ed, though perhaps not until the later grades.

KIP is no easier to get into than general education. As noted in an earlier post on this blog, in 2010, not even all the siblings got into KIP. First choice requests for Korean immersion in 2011 were 204% of capacity, compared to 219% for Chinese, 174% for JBBP  and 147% for Spanish. Demand was even higher in 2012, with 55 first choice requests, or 250% of capacity.*

Of the 22 immersion spots, 13 are for Korean-proficient speakers and 9 for English-only speakers. Unfortunately, unlike Mandarin immersion programs, which don't fill with native speakers, Korean proficiency does not guarantee you a spot. However, if your child can pass the language proficiency test, your odds are much, much higher.

The other way into Lilienthal is if you have a hard of hearing student seeking inclusion who will benefit from the acoustical modifications of Lilienthal’s facilities.

Update 4/2013: Just as in 2010, one or two siblings did not get into the KIP in round 1 this year.  Unlike past years, this year it was easier for children who did not pass the Korean proficiency test to get into KIP. This was due to an unprecedented number of children who took the Korean proficiency test, many of whom were native speakers.

*SFUSD Annual Report on Student Assignment System for the 2011-12 School Year, and the SFUSD School-Year 2012-2013 Total Requests by School/Grade/Program with Choice Ranking

Supporting Claire Lilienthal 


You can make a Paypal donation to the Claire Lilienthal PTA through the Paypal Giving Fund.  100% of your donation will go to the school.

You can also make a PayPal donation to the Claire Lilienthal PTA by going to clairelilienthal.org and clicking on the "Donate to the Annual Fund" image on the lower left. Please note: PayPal will take a cut of 2.2% + 30 cents. 

Here's two ways that cost you nothing.

  • Register your Safeway Club card and credit cards at eScrip.com (Claire Lilienthal ID: 136556020). A percentage of your purchases at eScrip merchants will automatically be donated to CL. The list is short but includes Safeway and Mollie Stone's.  Instructions at the Claire Lilienthal eScript webpage.
  • Register your Target RedCard in the Take Charge of Education program (Claire Lilienthal ID: 35346). 1% of your purchases will be donated to the school.


The Numbers


2011-2012 K-2 Enrollment by Ethnicity

Ethnicity
CL
SFUSD
Latino of any race
9% 
27%
Not Latino or Hispanic:
Asian*
30% 
33%
Filipino
2% 
4%
African American
9% 
9%
White
32% 
17%
Pacific Islander
0% 
1%
Two or More Races
12% 
6%
Not reported
5% 
3%
* Overall K-8 enrollment 16% Korean and 8% Chinese on SFUSD's CBEDS 2012-13 report.
  

2011-2012 Parent Education Level, Grades 2-5 only*


CL
SFUSD
Graduate School/Postgraduate
37% 
15%
College Grad
34%
22%
Some College/AA degree
10%
21%
High School Grad
6%
15%
Didn't graduate high school
1%
13%
Declined to State/Not Answered**
12%
13%

*CST test takers only. CAPA, CMA and STS not included. CST tests start at 2nd grade.
**For SFUSD, the "Declined to State" group has CST scores close to or slightly below the "Didn't graduate high school" group.

Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/


2011-2012 Economic Status, Grades 2-5 only*
Percent Eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch
(<185% of the Federal Poverty Level)
CL       
    SFUSD
All students 20%61%
Latino of any race 43%83%
Not Latino or Hispanic:
Asian21%65%
Filipino25%55%
African American 67%79%
White6%19%
Pacific Islander --83%
Two or More Races7%38%

*CST test takers only. CST tests start at 2nd grade.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/


2011-2012 CST Scores by Parent Education Level, Grades 2-5 only*


LilienthalSFUSD

ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
  grade level 
Graduate School/
     Postgraduate Education  
English 409
Math 461
90%
 94%
English 416
Math 455
89%
89%
College Degree (BA/BS)   English 398
Math 422
83%
81%
English 391
Math 428
78%
81%
Decline to state
     grades 2 and 3 only*
English 381
Math 434
82%
79%
English 339
Math 377
44%
60%

* The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other parent education levels and grades didn’t have enough published scores for comparison. The Decline to State group only had 38 students.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/



2011-2012 CST Scores by Economic Level, Grades 2-5 only*


Lilienthal SFUSD

ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
grade level 
NOT Economically
    Disadvantaged
English 405
Math 433
88%
88%
English 398
Math 433
80%
82%
Economically
    Disadvantaged 
English 367
Math 383
67%
64%
English 351
Math 385
52%
63%
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/





2011-2012 CST Scores by Ethnicity and Economic Level, Grades 2-5 only*

Lilienthal SFUSD
ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
grade level   
Asian,
    NOT economically disadvantaged  
English 412
Math 448
90%
93%
English 401
Math 454
82%
90%
White,
    NOT economically disadvantaged
English 405
Math 448
91%
91%
English 413
Math 442
88%
87%
Two or more races,
    NOT economically disadvantaged,
    grades 2-3 only for English,
    grades 2, 3 and 5 for Math
English 402
Math 469
93%
89%
English 401
Math 441
82%
85%

 *The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other grades and subgroups didn’t have enough published scores for comparison.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/


2011-2012 Korean CST Scores: Lilienthal vs all other SFUSD, Grades 2-5 only

Lilienthal
SFUSD excluding CL*
Score
At or above
grade level   
Score
At or above
grade level   
Korean, 
    grades 2-4 only**   
English 417
Math 448
92%
95%
English 409
Math 461
81%
90%

* SFUSD's mean CST score for Koreans is significantly affected by Lilienthal, as Lilienthal represented 39% of all Korean CST takers for grades 2-5. For this reason, comparison is to Korean students not at Lilienthal rather than to SFUSD overall.
** The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other grades didn’t have enough published scores for comparison.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov

Delinquent blogger but for what it's worth

Interesting process.

We submitted our application to sfusd schools back in early december, mainly because I was so *done* with school analysis. We submitted one application to a charter school - Creative Arts Charter School.

We toured McKinley, Rooftop, New Traditions, and Clarendon.

I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty on each one but I will be frank as to what my takeaway on each was for the ranking decision.

Rooftop and McKinley, early start, which was an unnecessary hardship as well as an undesirable one for this mom. Otherwise as is evidence by the reviews on this blog, have a great deal to offer.  I leaned more toward Rooftop than McKinley; it being a K-8 and offering a more attractive setting/building/extracurricular offerings than McKinley.  Both had a vibrant and active parent community.  McKinley struck me as more focused on a traditional education... reading, writing and arithmetic.  Not bad just not what I was looking for.

New Traditions and Clarendon, late start time (someone in this world understands me)...both project based and strong art strands which I value highly.  Both had a very strong sense of identity and community.  Both made me feel like ALL my kids would be well-served at these two schools.

Didn't rank as highly as I thought I would and this surprised me... K-8s.

Ranked much higher than I thought I would and this surprised me... New Traditions (second on my list).

All in all.  I think that the process is a good one because it forces you to drill down on what sort of *education* you want for your child.  What environment? What sort of people?  What kind of learning do you value most highly?

It also magnifies the needs that your family has that have to be accommodated... We are a family of six and we move... s.....l.....o....w....l....y.... when you have four under four years old, you take your time.

and if forced to move too fast, well we end up with a man, woman, girl, or boy down.  So late start time turned out to be very very important.

arts focused surprised me as being more important to me and my husband than language immersion.  

... a dear friend wrote me an email that helped me to realize what I believe an arts emphasis offers over a language immersion program...

"You want to be yourself, idiosyncratic; the collective (school, rules, jobs, technology) wants you generic to the point of castration" Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

I feel art helps one be idiosyncratic more than a dual language education focus. Less memorizing, more individual expression and discovery.

"the imagination of the genius vastly surpasses his intellect; the intellect of the academic vastly surpasses his imagination" I feel art nourishes the imagination. This nourishes an idiosyncratic self.

"art is a one-sided conversation with the unobserved" - this may be the highest compliment Nassim can give. His focus is on rare events that are both unpredicted by an observer and carry massive consequences. This is called The Black Swan - when we make errors outside our field of observation. Time spent in this realm builds creativity, thinking out of the box. 

Finally, one of my favorites by Nassim

"what I learned on my own I still remember" Art almost defines self directed discovery.

That said, I chose schools that I felt had strong art strands.

Even so, both my husband and I are fluent in another language.  We picked them up overseas when we were living abroad in our twenties.  Each of us first took language classes in middle school.  I value language immersion but as it turned out, not as much as a strong art focus in elementary school.  I feel like if you love a people you will learn their language.  I don't know what language-specific groups of people each of my kids will love but I feel like we'll expose them to a lot of people in this city (to begin with).  And from there... it was given its accorded weight but not as much as I would have thought in choosing or not choosing an elementary school.

That. Was a surprise.

Besides late start, art and languages...

I looked at CST test scores on the SFUSD site under the highlights tab for each school I was seriously considering.

I looked at them segmented out for subgroups. I looked at how kids tested year after year (trying to *follow a class*, because I attributed those increases, decreases or plateaus to the influence of instruction and not to other factors outside of a school's purview).

I listened to some friends who are teachers tell me that they have to teach to where the majority of the class is... and that influenced my decision to not send my kids to schools that have large subgroup populations that are testing much lower than the subgroup I hope we fall into (white) and schools that don't have the capacity to fund smaller class sizes...

Finally the distance to school was a factor that was HEAVILY weighted in as was our understanding of the strength of having a CTIP tiebreaker address.

Here was the list we turned in... and it may not make sense to you how I weighted everything I just discussed but I'll tell you what... when SFUSD publishes its algorithm...  I'll publish mine.

1. Clarendon (gen)
2. New Traditions
3. Peabody
4. Rooftop
5. Lilienthal (gen)
6. Sherman
7. Rosa Parks JBBP
8. Grattan - GEN
9. Alvarado - IMMS
10. McKinley
11. CIS Avila
12. Alvarado Gen
13. Alice Fong Yu (K-8)
14. Marshall
15. McCoppin
16. Sutro
17. Lawton
18. Stevenson


Friday, January 18, 2013

Parent Procrastination: WordoftheMutha Kindergarten List

Sorry for being so MIA. I wish I could have written up some more reviews, but being a working mama and finding time to tour so many schools is hard enough.

Here is our list (although we might fiddle a little more with the order):
Rooftop (Gen)
Clarendon (JBBP) 
Clarendon (Gen)
Fairmount (ImmS) 
Marshall (ImmS)
Buena Vista (ImmS)
Longfellow (FB)
Taylor (Gen)
Alvarado (ImmS) 
Miraloma (Gen)
West Portal (Gen)
Monroe (ImmS)
Sloat (Gen) 
Glen Park (Gen)
Longfellow (Gen) 

A little explanation: Although Rooftop and Clarendon are known to be some of the "trophy" schools in SF and are quite a drive from our home, we left both of the schools feeling like there was something special about them. We love that they both have very active parent communities, the kids seemed happy in the halls and there was art all over!  Rooftop topped the list because of the diversity, the beautiful garden and the fact that our nieces attend! Since we are in a CTIP-1 area, we actually have a chance of getting in. 

After that we prioritized Spanish Immersion and the Filipino program at Longfellow. We actually toured three ImmS programs in one week: Fairmount, Marshall, and Buena Vista.  We left all of them feeling like they were all strong schools offering something different. My husband and I disagree on Marshall so it might slip down the list a little more. I think Spanish Immersion with a Science focus is awesome and the instruction in the classroom we saw was amazing, but he was a little weary of the neighborhood and problems shared by the principal.

Beyond that, we put down other schools that we toured that seemed strong enough and took into consideration recommendations from friends and family. We also used The SFK Files a bit to gather more information to inform our ranking. (Big THANKS to all the current and former bloggers!) There were a lot of schools that we didn't list and didn't tour because of the distance from our house. Our daughter was also adamant that she could do Spanish immersion, but she drew the line and will not do Chinese immersion. We can respect that. 

We spoke with folks from all the Bayview schools and realized that, for the most part, they talked more about meeting the basic needs of students and less about the enrichment programs.  None of the schools will make our list.  This is not to say that they aren't doing great things with the kids that go there. With our children ethnically representing a group of students who are "performing" worse than other students in the district and are more likely not to even graduate from school, we're trying to be cautious and take advantage of what we feel are the best programs in the city. 

I am excited to end this Kindergarten craziness with a trip to Carver tomorrow to submit our form! 
P.S.
Private Schools applied to: Synergy, The Hamlin School  - Yes, they seem completely different from each other, but both offer something very special.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

West Portal: The Numbers

Posting this review as requested by a reader.

You should consider this school if you're looking for:  Cantonese immersion with a possibility of tracking in K-3, strong neighborhood school.

The Facts

Web site: http://www.westportalschool.com/
Location: 55 Lenox Way
Grades: K–5
School Hours: 8:40-2:30
Before/After-school program: GLO, starts at 7AM, ends at 6PM
Kindergarten size:  4.5 classes of 22 students-3 Gen Ed, 1.5 Cantonese Immersion
Playground: black-top terraces; play structure
Language: Cantonese immersion (1.5 classes)

Overview

I'll keep this brief since there are also 3 prior reviews in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The online school tour packet also has a great overview of the school. 

As noted in prior reviews, the school has experienced teachers who often serve as preceptors for student teachers. The robust student teaching program translates into more classroom staff.

 Also as previously noted, the principal is a proponent of red-shirting. During the tour, he stated that the students born late in the year represent 90% of the students who struggle at West Portal, through the later grades as well.  If your child will be a young kindergartener, this may not be the school for you.

Details of Cantonese Immersion

West Portal has the oldest Chinese immersion program in SFUSD, started almost 30 years ago by the now-principal of Alice Fong Yu. For CIP K-3, there are 1.5 classes per grade: the "half class" represents a combined K/1 and 2/3.  This allows for some tracking, especially in 2nd grade, as the teachers select what students are academically and socially ready to enter a mixed 2nd/3rd grade class.  More practically, 1.5 classes of 22 students in grades K-3 conveniently turns into 1 class of 33 for 4th/5th grade.

For K-1,  the curriculum is 80% Chinese and 20% English, Grades 2-3 are 70% Cantonese/30% English, 4th-5th Grade 50/50%. Mandarin and pinyin introduced early on in songs, but formal instruction does not start until 4th/5th grade.

Parent Involvement, Enrichment and Class Size
For the 2010-11 school year, the parents association raised almost $200k, according to their 2010 tax report at http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/94-3069763/parents-club-west-portal-school.aspx, and spent $140k. This money was used to fund the garden, PE, library, art, music, and perceptual motor, and Chinese performing arts after-school. Also the 5th grade camping trip.

Drop-off
I drive by this school every day, and honestly, drop-off looks like a hassle.  The road behind the school with the traffic circle gets a lot of cars during morning rush hour. and it can get congested.  I'm grateful for the traffic crossing guards who escort the children across this busy street; I'm sure they have saved more than a few children's lives.  This was mentioned in an earlier post.

Diversity
Culturally, the school as a whole feels very Chinese, much more so than other within-school immersion programs like Starr King, Ortega, and Claire Lilienthal. For example, one of their big weekly activities is after-school Chinese performing arts program on Fridays.

The Numbers

2011-2012 K-2 Enrollment by Ethnicity

Ethnicity
WP
SFUSD
Latino of any race
5% 
27%
Not Latino or Hispanic:
Asian*
67% 
33%
Filipino
4% 
4%
African American
3% 
9%
White
13% 
17%
Pacific Islander
0% 
1%
Two or More Races
6% 
6%
Not reported
2% 
3%

* Overall K-5 enrollment K-5 is 56% Chinese on SFUSD's CBEDS 2012-13 report.  Of the other students, 11% are listed as Vietnamese for CST testing, and many of these families may be ethnic Chinese from Vietnam.  During the Diversity Index lottery era, when Chinese enrollment was limited at popular SFUSD schools, many Chinese Vietnamese families chose to list their ethnicity as "Vietnamese."

2011-2012 Parent Education Level, Grades 2-5 only*


WP
SFUSD
Graduate School/Postgraduate
21% 
15%
College Grad
39%
22%
Some College/AA degree
13%
21%
High School Grad
16%
15%
Didn't graduate high school
8%
13%
Declined to State/Not Answered**
3%
13%

*CST test takers only. CAPA, CMA and STS not included. CST tests start at 2nd grade.
**For SFUSD, the "Declined to State" group has CST scores close to or slightly below the "Not a high school grad" group.


2011-12 Economic Status,
Grades 2-5* only
Percent of Enrollment Eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch
(<185% of the Federal Poverty Level)


WP
SFUSD
All students
45%
61%
Latino of any race
67%
83%
Not Latino or Hispanic:
Asian
53%
65%
Filipino
19%
55%
African American (7 students)
57%
79%
White
15%
19%
Pacific Islander (only 1 student)
--
83%
Two or More Races
23%
38%


*CST test takers only. CST tests start at 2nd grade.

2011-2012 CST Scores by Parent Education Level, Grades 2-5 only*

West Portal
SFUSD

Score
At or above
grade level   
Score
At or above
grade level 
Graduate School/
Postgraduate Education
English 409
Math 427
85%
82%
English 416 
Math 455
89%
89%
College Degree (BA/BS)   
English 393
Math 427
78%
86%
English 391 
Math 428
78%
81%
Some college/AA
    grades 3 and 4 only*
English 389
Math 419
79%
 97%
English 359
Math 386
56%
64%
High School Graduate
    grades 2, 3 and 5 only*
English 366
Math 411
55%
 82%
English 349
Math 390
49%
64%
* The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other parent education levels and grades didn’t have enough published scores for comparison.
The Some College/AA group had only 31 students; the HS Grad group had only 51 students.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/

2011-2012 CST Scores by Ethnicity, Grades 2-5 only*


West Portal SFUSD

ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
grade level 
AsianEnglish 388
Math 430
75%
85%
English 385
Math 442
74%
87%
White,
    grades 3-5 only 
English 415
Math 413
88%
88%
English 403
Math 426
83%
80%
Two or more races,
    grades 3-4 only
English 386
Math 402
87%
87%
English 390
Math 422
76%
79%
* The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other parent education levels and grades didn’t have enough published scores for comparison.
The White subgroup had only 45 students, Two or more races had only 39 students for West Portal.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/



2011-2012 CST Scores by Ethnicity and Economic Level, Grades 2-5 only*


West Portal SFUSD

ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
grade level 
Asian, NOT economically disadvantagedEnglish 400
Math 447
79%
86%
English 401
Math 454
82%
90%
Asian, economically disadvantaged English 378
Math 415
73%
84%
English 377
Math 435
70%
86%
White, NOT economically disadvantaged
    grades 3-4 only
English 411
Math 415
91%
96%
English 409
Math 454
88%
87%
* The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other parent education levels and grades didn’t have enough published scores for comparison.
The White, not economically disadvantaged subgroup had only 25 students.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/




Sunrise Sunset Heads to the Richmond: Quick Notes on Argonne

I turned in our list at SFUSD this week and I'm guessing most of you have as well, but in case there are any procrastinators out there, I thought I'd write up some quick notes from my recent tour at Argonne.

I was very interested to check out Argonne, which has an unusual extended schedule (sometimes called a year-round schedule). Our tour started in the spacious library with some discussion of that schedule. Basically, it sounds like they end the school year at the end of May like other district schools, but then start again after the July 4 holiday (although I think the July-August school day may run a half hour or so shorter than the 8:40-2:40 schedule the rest of the year). Some other breaks (winter, spring) may be a bit longer as well. It works out to an extra 4-5 weeks a year. Unfortunately, even though there are an extra 20-odd days of school, the school isn't allowed to employ teachers for more days than there are in the standard SFUSD contract, so at some point during the year, classes have that time filled in by subs. It sounds like that works out a bit differently depending on each teacher--some choose to have subs regularly, like every other Friday, while some choose to take off a week or so at a time. In any case, it sounds like the subs come from a pool known very well to Argonne and are attached to one or two classrooms, so they become like a regular back-up teacher. The folks leading the tour said that most of the regular subs are either retired teachers from Argonne or younger teachers that Argonne is checking out and may hire as permanent teachers as needs arise.

The schedule sounded pretty great to me--we are a family with two working parents and I know we're not looking forward to lining up a series of camps and babysitters for that long summer break every year. Another thing that sounded particularly nice is the way Argonne uses that extra time in the summer to ease the kindergartners into school. When school starts after the July 4 weekend, half of each K class starts and does a two week little K camp, mostly just fun rather than any real instruction, and just from 8:40-1:00. That way, they get to know their teacher in a small group of 11 and get used to school a little bit. Then, after two weeks, the second group of 11 comes in for their camp while the first group has a little break and then after the first four weeks, all 22 kids start school together.
It sounds like teacher often try to use the extra time in school for field trips. A parent mentioned that her son's class is set to go on 20 different field trips this year. They only get an SFUSD bus for one of those, so the rest have the kids setting out on Muni or involve parents and carpools. We saw a class heading to the Asian Art Museum--they looked excited.

After touching on the schedule, the parents and a teacher (teacher? I think he was a teacher? I arrived late) who were running the info session in the library covered other important points, including afterschool care. Sounds like there are multiple options, including on-site care for a fee; afterschool enrichment classes, also fee-based, like Tree Frog treks and musical theater; and buses to other established programs like the JCC and Nihonmachi. There used to be a Russian program as part of the school day, but that's no longer happening, so now there is Russian twice a week after school for those families that are interested. A parent asked about multi-age classes and it sounds like that was a component of Argonne for many years under the previous principal, but is currently being phased out (the teacher said it can work well if supported but may not have had enough funding to really do it well).  There was also a discussion of school atmosphere. Like several other schools, Argonne does some proactive things to build a positive school community like Reading Buddies (pairing older and younger students) and incorporates the Caring School Community approach. They also focus on positive reinforcement, with a program called "Wolfpack Praises" to call out kids doing good deeds.

Argonne's PTA is super organized and very involved. They raise over $100K from an annual "ask" letter at the beginning of school, plus they have a variety of other fundraisers during the year (auction, walkathon, etc.). With those funds, they pay for a chorus teacher, a dance program, Art in Action (parent-led art projects), the gardening program, and other extras. They also pay for part of a teacher to bring class size down in 4th and 5th grade to 27. It sounds like school fundraising really took on a greater urgency a couple of years ago when the teachers asked the parents to fund that part of a teacher position and the parent community got energized and started focusing on getting more grants and raising more moeny from parents but also from outside the parent community.

After the library, we were split up for a tour of the school, which is in a very nice and relatively new building (I think Argonne opened in 1997). The parent leading my tour seemed especially proud of the school's efforts at greening the schoolyard and showed us multiple small garden spaces; she was also really enthusiastic about the school's new play structure, which was large and swarmed with happy kids.

As we toured around, we got a chance to see the cafeteria/multi-purpose room and we were able to go into a few classrooms. Some of the teachers we saw were the subs who were there as a result of the extended schedule, and some were the regular teachers. As we walked around the schools, we also saw a very well resourced computer lab (although I didn't love that kids were playing games on the computers).

All in all, the school looked great, but at the end of the tour, I have to admit, I left feeling a little confused. Is the extended year schedule a driving force at the school or just something they ended up with and are trying to make the most of? Do the regular subs add something or detract from the experience? Also, I couldn't help being a little suspicious. This school seems like a really solid choice and that extra four weeks has got to be attractive to families with two working parents. So, what's the deal? How come this isn't the most popular school in SFUSD?? I would say this question is only half tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps people just don't know what to make of the extended schedule, since it's the only program like it in the district? Anyone have any ideas? I'd love to hear more from current parents (even though I already turned in my list, so I guess it's moot for me).

Good luck at the EPC everyone...

Monday, January 14, 2013

SF Schoolhouse: Race To Nowhere

Posting at the urging of SF Schoolhouse:
SF Schoolhouse is hosting a screening of the film Race To Nowhere this Wednesday (1/16) at 7pm.
More information at their website https://sites.google.com/a/sfschoolhouse.org/website/

Friday, January 11, 2013

Presidio Knolls: The Progressive New Chinese Kid on the Block

I've chosen not to review private schools or popular non-immersion public schools like Clarendon and Rooftop.   I'm making an exception for Presidio Knolls because it's a new Chinese immersion private school that isn't on many people's radar.  The application deadline for next year is Jan 15, so there is still time to apply.

You should consider this school if you're looking for a place with: Mandarin immersion with progressive inquiry-based education; long school day/more instructional time; beautiful new facilities; parents who are risk-takers; a small school that will grow with your child; a slightly less expensive independent school

The Facts 

Web site: http://www.presidioknolls.org/
Location: 250 10th Street between Howard and Folsom (South of Market)
Grades: K–1, expanding 1 grade a year to K-8
Kindergarten size: two classes of 20 students each
School hours: 8:30-4PM
Before- and after-school program: 7:30-6PM. Before-school care is free. Aftercare  is $50 per day/month. A once-a-week enrichment classes are $180 for 10 weeks, $260 with aftercare (works out to be $8/day for the aftercare)
Tuition: $21,500; 36% receive tuition assistance

Overview

PKS was founded as a preschool by Wendy Xa, who wanted to create an alternative to the traditional curriculum and teaching style that her daughter had experienced at CAIS.  The school aims to combine Mandarin immersion with progressive, inquiry-based education.  The preschool has become very popular and has grown exponentially, from 6 students in 2008 to 140 preschool students this year.  The school was originally in the Presidio, hence the name, but relocated to a larger campus at South of Market in 2011.

As a result of the preschool's tremendous successs, PKS decided to open an elementary school. The first class of 16 kindergarteners started in Fall 2012, and they plan to admit 2 classes this fall.  They recently hired a new head of school, Alfonso Orsini, who started this year.

Philosophy

The new head of school, Dr. Orsini, started by acknowledging the craziness of the kindergarten application process and telling parents, "No matter what, because of who you are and what you care about and do, your kids are going to be just fine."

He started by saying that that a sense of wonder is the #1 thing he looks for in a school, and proceeded to outline the difference between PKS's vision and a traditional education.  Here's that chart I copied from their powerpoint presentation.

Traditional vs PKS Progressive

Aspects of Education Traditional PKS Progressive
What We Learn Cover topics and chapters.
Emphasis on correct answers, knowledge
Questions/Problem-posing
Inquiry,
Scaffording for understanding
Process of LearningListen, student, test, repeatCollaborative (group work is a
hallmark of progressive education),
differentiated, research, reflection, action 
Assessment of ProgressLinear, incremental,
chiefly paper and pencil tests,
one target fits all
Units of exploration
Multiple forms of assessment
Individual growth
Role of TeachersDirective, authoritative,
give/take
Teachers are interactive, guiding, prompting, give/go
Curricular
Structure  
43 minute subjects,
"core content"
Integrated subjects in units of exploration
Character DevelopmentStay in line
Pay attention
Conform
Inquiry, analyze, create, present
Be caring, reflective, risk-taking


According to the PKS presentation, the cognitive benefits of Mandarin immersion are to accelerate development of executive function including/through.
  • Ability to solve problems with misleading cues
  • Selective attention
  • Inhibitory control
  • Sensitivity to verbal and non-verbal cues
  • Greater attention to listener' needs

Curriculum

80% Mandarin. This differs from the 50% Mandarin/50% English setup of CAIS.  PKS's goal is to have the students pass the HSK level 4 test by 5th grade.  This requires students to be able to read 1250 characters, and be able to speak/understand even more.  

Inquiry-based curriculum with 6 units of exploration in kindergarten:
  1. Our Senses
  2. My Personal History
  3. How and Why Art is Made
  4. The Earth's Cycles
  5. From Field to Table
  6. Precious Water
Each unit incorporates math, science, social sciences, art, drama and movement.  The school day is long, but there is no homework.  Per the head of school: "Studies show that in elementary school, homework makes no difference." It matters more in junior high and definitely in high school, but not in elementary.

New School

PKS has a few advantages common to all new schools.
  • The energy of building a new school, similar to the energy that happens when a group of parents starts to turn a public school around. A community of parents who are willing to take risks.
  • Because the school is so new, there are few to no siblings, and less total applicants than established independent schools. However, there is a large cohort of PKS preschoolers, more than the elementary school can accomodate if they all decide to attend the elementary school.
  • For the child who will do better in a smaller, more intimate environment now, PKS's attendance will start small and grow with your child.
It has disadvantages as well.
  • No older children in the school, so little opportunity to interact with a range of ages in school or in extracurricular activities.
  • Tiny enrollment for the first few years.  There will be only 56 students next year if all of the 1st graders stay.
  • Like all immersion program, enrollment can be expected to drop in upper grades.  Immersion programs often have higher attrition because of students who struggle academically with mastering 2 languages. They have a hard time making up for attrition because there are few students who can speak, read and write at grade level in both the immersion language and in English in the upper grades. 
        This becomes an issue in middle school, when students are socially ready to swim in a larger pool.  Where other private schools are adding a 2nd class, immersion programs tend to shrink. 
  • No established track record of high school placement

More Value for Your Money?

Tuition overall is slightly less than other independent schools, $21,500 compared to $22,600 for CAIS, $23,500+$1000 deposit for Live Oak, $24,250 at Children's Day, $25,000 at Friends, and $26,540 at SF Day.

Long school day = More classroom time for your money. 

The PKS school day is significantly longer than at other kindergartens, going until 4PM. The founder, Wendy Xa, said that they made this choice because project-based, inquiry-based learning takes more time. She pointed out that the long school day means you get "more for your money" with PKS tuition .

The long school day is an advantage for working parents, whose children will be in school until 5:30 or 6PM regardless. Stay-at-home parents may consider it a disadvantage, cutting into precious after-school time to spend time together or to take them to soccer practice, swim lessons, or music lessons. Kids grow up so quickly, and the after-school time with them, while they still want to hang out with parents, is precious.

More affordable aftercare

Where working parents really save with PKS is aftercare. As many working parents have pointed out, the cost of after-school care adds a significant amount of money to the private school budget. With the long school day at PKS, there's less time in aftercare. Afterschool care is just $50/day per month, or $250/month. This is less than public schools. For example, Jefferson and Claire Lilienthal's afterschool programs are both about $450 a month. A 10 week enrichment class at PKS is $180, $260 with aftercare (about $8/day for aftercare with the enrichment class).  

Most schools charge $9-10/hour for after-school care, not including after-school enrichment classes, which often cost $200-300 for 10 weeks.

The disadvantage is that the menu of after-school enrichment classes are limited. In contrast to the broad range of afterschool classes at other schools, this year PKS offered just enrichment classes only 3 days a week for its elementary students, with only 1-2 choices each day: Kung-Fu on Mondays, Gymnastics or Mandarin art on Tuesdays, Mandarin calligraphy or Chinese dance on Thursdays.

Impressive Vision, But Can They Deliver?

The school has a great vision. Will they be able to execute it? There are several successful SF schools that started out as preschools, will PKS be one of them? This is not a school for the risk-averse family.

 Here are some questions that come to mind.

The head of school, Alfonso Orsini, is personable and dynamic, with a wealth of knowledge and experience, but will he stay?  At his prior school in Portland, OR, he left after just 3 years.  

Many of the teachers seem to have little prior experience teaching young children.  Where are the teachers on the learning curve? Will you be paying $21k for Teach for America style teachers--smart, enthusiastic, energetic but with little experience in child development and classroom management?

They currently have 5 years left on their lease of the current site, with an option to buy.  How will they raise the money to buy this large parcel of expensive real estate?  Expanding the school means that they must renovate and remodel the existing buildings on the site to make room; how will they find money for this?  What will this mean for financial aid in the next 5 years?
PKS is not a well-oiled, fine-tuned machine; it's a start-up.  I saw a few glitches. When the school head was pressed about whether there would be any spots, given that they have 140 preschool students and only 40 spots, he unexpectedly threw out that he was considering a 3rd K class if there was demand.
A charming example of how PKS is still working things out was is their soccer team's name. PKS students decided to call their soccer team the "Pandas."  The founder ruefully pointed out that the slow-moving, sedentary panda might not be the best name for a soccer team, but pandas it is.

If you like the energy and vibe of a start-up, if you're willing to take a chance on Mandarin immersion with an innovative curriculum, PKS could be the school for you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Italian Immersion School - Open House

Open house information from La Scuola:

Saturday January 12, 9:00 am - 10:00 am
728 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
www.lascuolasf.org
RSVP to Dunja Solari, Admissions Director
admissions@lascuolasf.org

We are a brand new elementary program growing from a 10 year old preschool program.  Our school is located in the Dogpatch neighborhood.  We currently have a mixed K-2 class and will add a Kindergarten class in the fall of 2013.

Here is a bit about the school:

At La Scuola we will offer your child the opportunity to be immersed in the Italian language and culture; we will teach them using the Reggio Emilia-inspired approach in small classes to optimize their learning; and will will use the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB-PYP) as the basis for the curriculum.  This world-class education model is grounded in creative and critical thinking and is relevant to the global challenges of the 21st century.

We have a lively, warm and very diverse community of parents, with 16 languages spoken at the school and different family structures.  Our parent body are from all over the world and include a mix of lovers of bilingual education, Italian speakers, Italian-Americans, lovers of Italian culture and the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rich school, poor school: How much money PTAs raise

How much money do PTAs raise, and how do they spend that money?  Here's 2010-11 financial data for PTAs at Alvarado, Alice Fong Yu, CIS at DeAvila, Claire Lilienthal, Clarendon, Grattan, Lafayette, Miraloma, Peabody, Ortega, Rooftop, Sherman, Starr King, and West Portal, taken from their IRS Form 990s.

The Schools

Alvarado Raised $370,924, spent $341,768 in 2010-2011 (Raised $330k, spent $300k if PTA overhead and fundraising excluded)

520 students in 2010-2011. Cash reserve $384k.
  • $62k Science Program: $24K for science coordinator and 11K for supplies, $17K for tech search party fundraising event, $2.5k for computers, $6K for garden
  • $56k Literacy program for 100 students, including $20K for writing program, $28K for tutors, $5K for parents literacy night, $1K for library collection.
  • $55k Art, music and drama
  • $14k Behavioral therapy with sandtray
  • $63k Playworks PE/yard coaches
  • $2kYard equipment/duty
  • $6k Afterschool
  • $4k Antibullying
  • $52k School furniture, supplies, equipment, teacher requests
  • $3.5k PTA meetings/membership
  • $20k PTA expenses

Alice Fong Yu (EIN 77-0439991) Raised $284,750, spent $237,456

552 students in 2010-2011. $444k cash reserve.  Overall decline in fundraising, from over $300k from 2006-2008.

  • $54k China-US Exchange Program (8th grade goes to China for 2 weeks)
  • $7K Field Trips
  • $20K Instructional materials
  • $8K Afterschool program enrichment
  • $41K "Office expenses"
  • $107k "Other" - not itemized for the 2010-11 form. Includes  enrichment classes, garden classroom, art classes, paraprofessional stipends/tutoring
For comparison, in 2009-2019, AFY expenses included $30k for fundraising and $2k for admin as well as:
  • $4k Chinese New Year Parade
  • $31K Instructional supplies
  • $7K Prof development
  • $38k Technology
  • $16K afterschool program
  • $53k China-US exchange program
  • $44K Paraprofessionals (tutoring)
  • $20k Garden
  • $6k Field trips
  • $4K Sports
  • $12K Middle school student hall
  • $3K Classroom supplies

CIS at DeAvila (EIN 94-3216902) Raised $122,921, spent $78,053

Cash reserve $112k. Impressive since CIS only had 154 students in 2010-11.
  • $11k Art, music, dance prgroams, music instruments, Chinese NY Parade
  • $21k Literacy level Guided Reading Program: English and Chinese books for K-1
  • $33k Playworks PE teacher, yard monitor
  • $9K School supplies
  • $2k PTA meetings, school events, teacher appreciation

Claire Lilienthal (EIN 94-2954256) $260,766, spent $247,586

672 students. Cash reserve(assets) $139k. Fundraising stable over the last 3 years. The afterschool program for K-2  has a separate nonprofit ID (EIN 94-2864013), income $292k and expenses $277k for 68 students.
  • $13k Depreciation (PTA-purchased sound equipment, classroom computers and a copier)
  • $47k Teacher support
  • $40k PE
  • $39k Outdoor education
  • $19k Facilities maintenance
  • $25k Classroom supplies ($1000 per teacher)
  • $64k Other (not itemized)
For comparison, in 2000-2010:
  • $13k Arts
  • $1K Books
  • $23K Classroom supplies
  • $13K computer consultant
  • $8k computer supplies and insurance
  • $2k copy machine lease and maint
  • $28k depreciation
  • $7k Finance charge
  • $9k Library books
  • $11k Office Assistant
  • $15k Office expenses
  • $48k Outdoor education
  • $46k PE
  • $13k School assemblies and events

Clarendon JBBP (EIN 94-2783933) Raised $192,721, spent $125,923

565 students in JBBP and Gen Ed combined. Cash reserve $224k + $329K in mutual funds (now that's forward thinking! Perhaps they're building an endowment?) Revenue stable at this level for last 5 years.
  • $70k Consultants
  • $30K Teacher funding
  • $13K Supplies
  • $3K Liability
  • $1K Computer maintenance

Clarendon Gen Ed (EIN 94-3205047) Raised $185,489, spent $170,145

565 students in JBBP and Gen Ed combined. Cash reserve $325k. Revenue stable at this level for last 5 years
  • $119k Enrichment "art, music, PE, computer lab, foreign language, and library"
  • $23k Classroom funds
  • $11k SFUSD funding
  • $5k Copier
  • $1k Art supplies
  • $1K Computer supplies
  • $1K 4th grade graduation
  • $1K Italian

Grattan (EIN 94-2967138) Raised $172k, spent $180k after PTA admin/fundraising expenses and fee-based afterschool program excluded (Reported  revenue $354,679, expenses $342,954*) 

381 students.
  • $16k Garden program
  • $165K Classroom support, reduced classroom size by funding an additional teacher, field trips, supplies, library materials, computer lab, enrichment. Includes 
    • money paid directly to SFUSD for salaries for an additional full-time teacher to reduce classroom size and a technology instructor  
    • $8K Computer Lab
    • $20K Field trips
  • $12K PTA Expenses
  • $74k Afterschool program - revenue $85k
  • $86K Fundraising expenses(eScrip, Grattan Gear, Spring fundraising events)

Lafayette (EIN 94-6172049) Raised $238,630, spent $191,625

524 students in 2010-11. Cash reserves $140k. Steady upward 5 year trend from $100k raised in 2007.
  • $136K Curriculum Support
  • $14K School furniture and equipment
  • $6K Science Grant to teachers
  • $5K Garden coordinator
  • $5K School Musical
  • $3K Art in Action
  • $2K Copier maintenance
  • $6K Field day, Halloween, newfamily events, multicultural night, carnival
  • $7K Office supplies
  • $1.5K staff appreciation
  • $400 STAR testing snacks
  • $600 Stop, Drop and Go
  • $1K PTA dues

Miraloma (EIN 94-6184034) Raised $326,875, spent $173,304

361 students. Reserve $318024. Strong upward trend from $213k in 2006-07 to $337k last year.
  • $50k  USF Counselors (mental health therapists)
  • $23k  computer literacy program
  • $21k  Art, theater, dance and music instruction in classroom
  • $5k  After-school tutoring
  • $7k Classroom supplies
  • $12k Garden/environmental education
  • $3k Field trips
  • $7k Professional development
  • $12k Snack program (part of garden: organic locally grown snacks)
  • $4k grounds/building

Ortega (EIN 94-3190930) Raised $61,481, spent 54,144

288 students in 2010-11. Cash reserves $58k.  Fundraising jumped from $5k in 2006 to $55k in 2008, $67k in 2009, $61k 2010-11.
  • $17k Instructional supplies
  • $9k Arts, dance,theater, music
  • $15k "Hosting of opportunities for community building for students and their extended families." (events?)

Peabody (EIN 71-1004773) Raised $200k, spent $104k after PTA admin expenses and fee-based afterschool program excluded (Reported revenue $249,031 spent $151,238)

252 students.
  • $70k Literacy specialists
  • $10k Playworks (Sports4Kids)
  • $7k Artists in Residence
  • $4k Music classes
  • $4k Outdoor garden classes
  • $1.5k Opera guild
  • $5k Classroom supplies
  • $3k School events
  • $39k After school program - revenue $43k
  • $8k PTA meetings, bank fees, office expenses, travel, depreciation

Rooftop (EIN 23-7349936) $247,023, spent $244,030

594 students.

  • $92k Art education
  • $62k Garden education, landscaping and greening of campus
  • $23k Computer lab instruction, equipment support and maintenance
  • $20K Classroom support: afterschool tutoring, professional development, classroom supplies
  • $18k Sensory Motor
  • $12K Library for grades 5-8
  • $10K Outdoor education

Sherman (EIN 94-3351039) Raised $286,269, spent $254,642

422 students. Cash reserve $124k. Strong, steady upward trend from $58,717 raised in 2006-07.
  • $139k paid to SFUSD for salaries/benefits for art and music teachers and for a mental health consultant able to do expressive play therapy.  
  • $59k Prof development
  • $26k Classroom supplies
  • $12k art/garden/sports program
  • $4k Library
  • $1.6k Sandtray therapy/music/science
  • $10k Accounting and PTA office expenses

Starr King (EIN 13-4317993) Raised $91,263;  spent $95,788

345 students. Cash reserve $59k. Stunning, steady upward 5 year trend from just $1021 raised in 2006.
  • $72k Classroom supplies, education programs, arts including dance and theater
  • $14k School events, cultural enrichment
  • $7k Classroom equipment

West Portal (EIN 94-3069763) Raised $199,622, spent $139,589

574 students. Cash reserve $315k
  • "Books, classroom supplies, computers and software, copier, field trips, aseemblies, art programs"
  • $64k Art
  • $50k Enrichment
  • $8k Staff support
  • $6k Instructional expenses
  • $2K Recognition
  • $1k Spring musical
  • $2k Camping
  • $2k Equipment rental
  • $3k T-shirts and sweatshirts (fundraising?)
  • $3k operating expenses

Search for the schools name and the phrase "EIN" online. Once you have their EIN, you can use it to look up their IRS 990 forms at guidestar.com or at the State of California's Charity Research Tool. You'll have to create a login (free) at guidestar to see the Form 990s. 

Organizations that raise less than $50,000 a year are not required to file a Form 990 with detailed financial information, only a "Form 990-N" that says they raised under $50,000.  The IRS has a search page for nonprofits that filed a Form 990-N.

When comparing PTAs, the totals reported to the IRS can be misleading.  For example, if a fundraising banquet grossed $30k but the food/entertainment cost $20k, the PTA only raised $10k.  However, they might report revenue of $30k and expenditures of $20k to the IRS.  Grattan is a great example. They report raising about $350k, but actual school spending was $180k after excluding PTA overhead, fundraising expenses, and the fee-based afterschool program.  

To see how much money goes to the school, here are some useful places to look:
  • Form 990 Part III Item 4: Program Expenses
    • Schedule O, Supplemental information, often has detailed information
    • Schedule I will have money paid to SFUSD, for teacher salaries etc.
  • Form 990 Part IX, especially line 24, Statement of Functional Expenses : Contrast column B (program expenses) with column C/D (management/general and fundraising expenses)
  • Form 990 Part VIII:Program Service Revenue. This tells you how much money is coming in from fee-based programs
If you want calculate the money raised per student, enrollment by school is listed in the SFUSD School Site List and Summary file at the SFUSD RPA Data Center.
I'm not an accountant or bookkeeper. Your mileage may vary. Please share any information you find!