Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Decisions...

Live Oak vs. San Francisco School, Creative Arts Charter vs. Dianne Feinstein....
Congratulations to those of you that are blessed with multiple assignments or blessed with a round I assignment and trying to decide on participation in round II.

Are you deciding between a charter school and a public?  A private and a public?  Multiple acceptances?  Twins at different schools?

Post here if are looking for community input or additional information on your assigned school.
Also - Please continue to post to the waitlist thread.  I know many are waiting for private school movement would like to keep that thread fresh....

183 comments:

  1. We got our top choice public but feel our child is too young so considering waiting a year and applying for lottery next year. Some people think we're nuts. Anyone ever do this and get a decent assignment the following year?

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    1. I wouldn't risk it. Try it and if your child really is too young, you can figure out your options then but at least you'd be in the school - your top choice at that!

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    2. We did just this. We got a great assignment but ended up deciding our son just wasn't ready and didn't take the spot. And the next year, we got nothing in either round of the lottery.
      But, we don't regret it for a minute. Our son wasn't ready for kindergarten and it would have been unfair to send him just because we weren't sure if he'd get a school the following year. He ended up at a parochial school, which is not at all what we had planned, but it's been the absolute best thing for him.
      Only thing I can say is don't let this lottery make decisions for your child that you wouldn't otherwise make.

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    3. I agree with @3:06, I wouldn't risk it either.

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    4. We got our first choice on the first round last year. We have a son with an October birthday and went back and forth as to what to do. He wasn't ready. We ultimately decided to send him because lightening doesn't strike twice. He was the youngest in his class by a long shot (and was far from ready) but he stepped up to the plate that year and 'played with the big dogs'. We ended up holding him back for a second year of K. In the end it all worked out just fine. He's developmentally where he should be now, both physically and mentally, and he's in one of the best public schools in SF.

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    5. A friend was just asking me about this . . . is it the parents' decision solely to have the kid do a 2nd year of K? Or does the district/school/teacher make this decision?

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    6. My child has a late September birthday. I am deciding whether to send him this year or wait. The advice I have gotten (and which makes sense to me) is to decide whether he is ready based on the child, not based on our school options. He is either ready or not ready. I don't think it's fair to my son to send him if he's not ready. I would never want to set him up to repeat Kinder.

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    7. @4:08 yes, in an ideal world, the question of whether to send your child to K is based on if he or she is ready for K. Unfortunately, SFUSD isn't set up that way. You can't defer K for a year, and if you do get one of 20 spots, you take it. If you don't, there are 1800+ people waiting in line to take your spot. Treat the first year of K it as a TK year. Just let the teacher know as soon as possible that you intend to hold them back. "Setting them up to repeat" is not a failure. You just might see your child rise to the occasion and grow in ways that you never imagined.

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    8. The decision to repeat a grade is based on the parents, teacher, principal and guidance counselor. I'm sure it varies school to school.

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    9. If you thought your child was too young, why did you apply? You must of had a plan when you applied. If so, then follow your original plan.

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    10. I'd take the spot. You don't know where your child will be in September; kids mature a lot in 6 months. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much your child has grown up by August, and if not, you can always give up the spot then.

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    11. To 7:50 pm 00 you apply because it's not always clear when you apply in January when you child will be like/ready for the following fall.

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    12. Remember that your child will develop & grow between now & August; so my advice would be take the spot that you're happy about - son may grow up fast, may repeat K - you're still at your top choice. :)

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    13. Has your belief that your child is too young to go to kindergarten been influenced in any way by the teachers or director of his preschool? And is s/he currently at a private preschool? In my experience, the private preschools, out of financial self interest, do everything they can to persuade parents to keep their children in pre-K/T-K (instead of sending them to kindergarten), thereby netting themselves another year of fees. I've seen this happen, even when a child is highly academically advanced.

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    14. Go with your gut. If you think the child is to young KEEP HIM/HER BACK!
      You wouldn't give a kid a car just because he is 16.
      Do you want the child to just survive or do you want your child to excel?
      I would rather my child be the oldest than to always be the youngest!!!!!

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    15. I don't think you can ever know if your kid is ready until you get them dressed, let go, and let the great teachers and great classmates take over. Kids bloom at different rates. And kindergarten is such a wonderful social experiment, almost any kid is ready for that at any age. The hard learning comes much later in the year, and by that time, almost any kid is ready and has the confidence.

      A golden ticket to a top public school in San Francisco is worth $25,000 per year. Over six years of elementary, that's over $150,000. That's how much private school charge, and my money says a child will be better off in a so-called "top" public school. If nothing else, add up the extras you can give your child with that $25,000 per year fund. The public school teachers are better, they're real career professionals, the class size is still small (knock wood) which is HUGE, the kids are really honestly diverse. You'll have rich and working class, all colors, a great mix.

      And we're talking Kindergarten. It's not rocket science.

      No don't risk it. This is as good as it gets. Live and experiment and give it a try, and if it's too much for your child, you can always pull her out and try again next year. But give it a try.

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  2. I've heard people say that Hamlin is a great school, but that seems to refer to academics. are the girls happy there?

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    1. The feedback I've gotten from girls (and alums) who have gone there is that they have made incredible friendships that last beyond their time at the school. Ms. Holland-Greene is incredibly focused on and gifted at creating community, so my sense from current families is that this is good already and only going to get better. The girls we talked to at the school seemed happy, confident, and proud to be Hamlin girls - it is a terrific school.

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    2. As with every school the answer depends on the individual child and family. Even more than in the past, Hamlin does draw children from families who are looking for an academically rigorous environment. Girls too can be naturally competitive. I have heard from some current parents that their their girls feel under a fair amount of peer pressure, particularly around reading in the early grades. While the head of school is incredibly dynamic and inspirational, it does seem that she promotes the competitive atmosphere as part of the girls' preparation. Parents need to have a sense of whether that's going to work for their child.

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    3. "I've heard people say that Hamlin is a great school, but that seems to refer to academics. are the girls happy there?"

      Very studious and bright daughter of a friend had a hard time there from Queen Bees and their followers. Spent lunch breaks in the library. Was much happier when she went to University High, which (according to her), being full of geeks, the Queen Bee's ninja social skillz didn't count for much when social standing was based on your no-shit academic horsepower.

      One anecdote.

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  3. We are deciding between Children's Day School and Alvarado Gen. We love so many things about CDS -- community, proximity to our neighborhood (Noe), social justice mission, project based learning, I could go on, but are having a hard time swallowing the tuition (we have a sibling following in two years). We had gotten our heads around doing it over the weekend and assumed that we would not get a public school that works so were emotionally ready to commit. Now that we have Alvarado (our top public choice), we are confused. Seems like a great school, it's close, very strong PTA, etc., but we are having a hard time moving our guts/emotions/visions of our future from CDS to Alvarado. One thought we are having is that during these younger years, it seems that the extra benefit of an independent school may not be as great, and that we go Alvarado through 5th and then switch to private for middle school. The obvious risk is that making the jump later is far from certain, as we may not get a spot. As for the tuition, we can make it work financially, but that means money spent that we are not saving for other things, like high school, college, retirement, etc. Is CDS worth the cost???

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    1. in the same boat with exactly the same concerns (strong public vs independent). many people have told me to "save my money" for independent middle school and go public for K-5. My concern is that by middle school you have to "test in", and they may interview your child in detail. If your child doesn't have the academic strength or social skills, they may not get into an Independent school by then. Maybe if you are accepted into CDS already, in 5 years you will still meet the criteria, but it's a risk. Also I'm quite thrilled to not have to go through this application AGAIN for middle and then AGAIN for high school!

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    2. Somewhat in the similar situation. I read reviews that CDS is not academically rigorous. Is that really true? How does CDS compare to other independents like Friends, Live Oak, or Presidio Hill?

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    3. I'm not sure why you think your child would have more academic strength or better social skill development at the private school. We switched from private to public in 3rd grade, and feel like the education is more rigorous. The main reason we switched from the private was we didn't feel like our son was developing the necessary social skills. And there's lots of support for that at his public school.

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    4. It's great to hear that you went from private to public and found it to be a better fit for your son. I'm sorry if I said anything that you found offensive. I just meant there is no guarantee that you can switch to private for middle school (which is what the original poster mentioned) and that at that point there will be even more factors to consider (including how your child develops between K-5, which depends on a lot of factors).

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    5. If it was a bad school assignment it wouldn't even be an issue. There is more than one good school so can reevaluate next year.

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    6. If you can't save for retirement and emergencies, then you should go to Alvarado. It's a great school and has a lot of parental involvement. You will also be a lot more relaxed and able to enjoy yourself and your family. If a time comes when the tuition is not stressful, then reapply. Middle school is six years away. I wouldn't go private and spend the $200,000 on tuition on the gamble that you'll still be in SF and won't be able to find a good middle school option. I know it can feel like stretching for the private school tuition is just doing your job as a parent but if you're not saving for your retirement, you're not doing your children any favors. Saving the $200,000 toward your retirement will be a lot more helpful in the long run (think compound interest over the next 30 years or buying a rental building somewhere outside of SF) than spending it on elementary education, especially when you have a great public school option.

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    7. Yes putting that money toward retirement AND college! We've been saving for college since our girl was a baby!

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    8. I don't know if this is worth anything, but when I toured there were a handful of privates that seemed on a par with the best publics, but nothing more: these were the schools I called the "private Alvarados." My own sense of things is that an introverted kid might fall through the cracks at a large school like Alvarado, and that the smaller scale of a place like CDS can help quieter kids bloom -- but that an extroverted kid is likely to do just as well at either one. While it's true that the other entry points to private are not a guarantee, the privates do want strong incoming students from the publics, so it's not a lost cause either.

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    9. For what it's worth, there are some kids who find schools such as CDS and Presidio Hill simply too small and want to break out into a larger pond for middle school.

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    10. 4:47 here. I guess the tone of my reply did sound a bit defensive, but I really wasn't offended! I've just encountered enough people in the private school world who feel that if you pay more for something, it must be better (aka the Veblen effect)--or at least they have convinced themselves that that's true. Heck, my husband and I did that when we paid $20,000+ per year; you like to feel that you're getting your money's worth. We decided to try the public route to see if it might work better for our son and family and our eyes have been opened.

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    11. In the same boat as you with Alvarado as our public. I have talked to two families who each have 1 child in Alvarado and the other at a private (one family is CDS, other is Friends.) Both agreed that they were very happy with Alvarado.

      The cost factor is a big one to weigh and I hear you on this one -- trying to figure it out ourselves. Good luck!

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    12. Maybe contact the Alvarado PTA and see if anyone has thoughts about the middle school transition? Maybe some existing parents at Alvarado have some candid advice about that particular aspect of your question.

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  4. We're deciding between SF Community and going back to try to Sunnyside, which I'm pretty sure we could eventually get. We declined a spot in the dual language program at TECA. SFC is closer and really intrigues me and since it's K-8, we wouldn't have to deal with middle school. But is it too small? Is there enough extra-curricular enrichment? Will my child be sufficiently challenged?

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    1. We ranked SF Community as our top choice and got it. I love the project-based learning style and the teacher-led leadership, small cozy community with a fresh approach. I grew up in a private school like this on the east coast and felt very supported. I'm very happy to know my kid will get a similar experience in public school.

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  5. For public we for Key, our neighborhood school. Accepted to SF Schoolhouse and Alta Vista and a "too young, reapply" letter from Live Oak which was our #1. Such a difficult decision - there is a lot to like about Schoolhouse - small size, experiential learning approach, proximity to our home. But it seems like there will be growing pains for Schoolhouse and the facilities are very modest at this point. Alta Vista, on the other hand, has great facilities and programs in place... But it's a long drive each day. As for Key, it seems up and coming but I feel like an independent school has more to offer in terms of personalized an hands on learning. Or do I keep her home for a year and try again for Live Oak? Only one day left to decide! Good luck, all!

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    1. Why not go to Key for a year and see if you like it and reapply to Live Oak next year. It can't hurt.
      But if Alta Vista is a long drive, isn't Live Oak as well?

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    2. Go for FSK. Live Oak always seemed to me as less than met the eye.

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    3. Live Oak is just as far but was our first choice which somehow (at least in my imagination) lessened the hassle of driving. FSK is getting a lot of love from friends and we're considering repeating K and reapplying to Live Oak. That said, Alta Vista seems to have it all, just not as established as Live Oak.

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    4. I know a family that got a too young from Hamlin a couple of years ago and sent their daughter to public for a K year and then reapplied and got into Hamlin. I think some families take that route and it works out. I wonder why Live Oak thought your daughter was too young and Alta Vista did not. Do you know what differences in curriculum or teaching methods that would account for this?

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    5. Maybe SF Schoolhouse is the right fit. Small and private and closer and you could reapply to LO next year.

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    6. Oddly enough, her interview at Alta Vista was incredibly thorough - it was one-on-one with the head of school and assistant whereas Live Oak's was more play date-style with many children there at once. Alta Vista said she was more than ready for K, I wonder if the "too young" has something to do with Live Oak's cutoff date? (She's mid-July birthday)

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    7. If you like Alta Vista and the daily commute is not too much for you, then maybe it is the right choice. They accepted your child and schools tend to pick applicants that will do well within their school and curriculum.

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    8. Any opinions on how long of a day is "too long?" I know public is 6 hours, privates seem to be a bit longer. I feel like a 7 hour day would be exhausting for a 5 year old but I guess they adapt.

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    9. I once read an enlightening post about this to the effect that many kids go to some sort of after school care anyway, and, if so, why not have them be in an educational setting in a longer school day. If your child/ren would otherwise be at a playground with you at 3:30, for example, then the school length question seems to be relevant. If he/she will be in an aftercare situation, then I think it's more a question about the after school care and whether what they offer is 'exhausting' or exciting for your particular child.

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    10. It sounds like LO's interview stressed social development, whereas Alta Vista couldn't have observed that if it was one-on-one with adults. Often times, social readiness is a reason to delay kindergarten.

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    11. Ability to handle the length of day really depends on the kid. What's interesting is that at 7:50 start schools, a large portion, if not the majority do afterschool care. I have three at a 7:50 start. The oldest we worried about in kinder. Could he handle after care? Then I discovered he was more tired and cranky at home w/out aftercare, and he sure wasn't napping to make up for fatigue. So back to afterschool, which eventually worked out fine. The youngest never was a sleeper, so he was immediately still raring for more after two hours of afterschool care (taking us to 4pm.) Fatigue never an issue at all from day one of kinder, even though he was the youngest (for K) of my three.

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    12. alta vista is going to open more bus routes next year, most likely. my friend heard it at the last parent's meeting.

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    13. After a few nearly sleepless nights we are going with Alta Vista. Feeling good about it! Thanks everyone!

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    14. Great Choice! We are also going to Alta Vista and are very excited.

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  6. We got Synergy and Creative Arts Charter. Immensely grateful for our conundrum. Really love Synergy, the teacher collective, great student-teacher ratio, project-based learning, strong diversity and a commitment to community and social justice...but the price tag is hard to swallow. Also loved CACS and theoretically want to support public education. CACSs strong commitment to integrating the arts into every aspect of the curriculum is very exciteing and appealing. There is also such a strong sense of community at CACS that I didn't see at other public schools. But CACS felt somewhat disorganized, they still have an interim director, and now they've officially lost the second building to Gateway Middle School. The "organized chaos" challenges my ability to trust that the school can keep it together over the long haul. The fact that they no longer have the second building for me highlights the struggle that charter schools face when dealing with the district...I'm really struggling here! Would love to hear from families who have children in either school.

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    1. I don't have a child at CACS but we were accepted and will send our daughter there. I believe the school will continue to thrive as it has since 1994. It's a strong school with many supporters. Yes they "lost" the building but isn't Gateway also a charter? I am actually a public school teacher and I must admit that Charters are kind of the evil stepchild of the public schools. But a strong charter such as CACS isn't going anywhere. Well I certainly hope it doesn't! :) It has an awesome community of folks like you mentioned and it has that private school feel without the price tag. Do you have a gut feeling? The great news is you have 2 wonderful options. Good luck to you!

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    2. Updates from the parents' tour / orientation today:

      Fernando Aguilar, who was interim (acting) director during our original tour, was within the last two weeks officially hired as director (principal analog). (My wife and I like him.)

      By SFUSD fiat, Gateway Charter middle school is taking over the building on the other side of the 'yard' but CACS will retain use of their cafeteria and hopefully more of the space they have had there. It sounds like much of the existing 'yard' used for recess etc that CACS has been using will remain for their exclusive use.

      It's disappointing I understand as SFUSD essentially 'snatched' space that CACS was fully using up until the fire in neighboring buildings trashed it (water damage)... but and the impact is expected to be modest. Relations were reported as good between the schools at the moment.

      Other idle observations: we were pleased to hear that the school-run sliding-scale after-school program has seats for all comers and almost all kids doing after-school use it. We first encountered this model at Grattan and the ethos ("prevent stratification of otherwise unified kids, into different after school programs based on income") and really respect it.

      Director Aguilar only had fifteen minutes for questions from this first meeting, since he was leading an 8th grade overnight social-responsibility field trip to a Reno animal shelter (think I have that right)... "only one night this time." Field trips!

      We learned that in the Innovation Lab, the table saw is pretty much 'run by the girls' (this in response to questions about whether the aggressive science/tech program there has girls in it). Also, 'most' of the kids graduating to Lowell are girls.

      We learned that CACS is contracted for the new much-lauded Revolution Foods local school lunches -- from what we hear generally, a huge step up in quality!

      Only poignant moment: that the eye-glazingly awesome Kindergarten room we visited next year wouldn't be ours, because CACS practices "looping" and the current K kids are sticking in that room with that teacher for 1st grade. (On the other hand, we learned that the two other K rooms' teachers work with each others' kids out of their specialties, literacy/language and science respectively... )

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    3. I was there this morning, too, and I'm still wayyyyy happy with CACS. I think the space-sharing with Gateway MIddle will actually end up creating great opportunities for collaboration between the 6-8 classes of both schools; they already have dances together, etc. I love Gateway's mission of focusing on college readiness, so I have no concerns about bad influences from their side.

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    4. Was also on the tour this AM. Still totally thrilled with CACS. Wanted to mention the garden project will begin next month. Poster 2:00- I missed the part about the kindergarten classrooms?? I know the teachers will be looped but I guess I assumed they would move upstairs. I thought the Kinders had that little floor with their own bathroom and access to the yard. Can you tell me more about this?? Lesley were you there for that? Thanks!

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    5. I didn't hear the part about moving classrooms, but I know that yard is reserved specifically for K classes.

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    6. I asked the parent-guide during the tour if looping meant next year's K classes were upstairs, and that was confirmed.

      Makes sense -- if I were one of the teachers, I wouldn't want to relocate every year to support the looping. Would have been nice to have the little 'K zone' downstairs, as you say, but so it goes...!

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    7. Thanks for the confirmation. I appreciate it!

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    8. "I love Gateway's mission of focusing on college readiness, so I have no concerns about bad influences from their side."

      Gee, thanks. I guess.

      --Gateway MS parent

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    9. Hey Gateway parent,

      I'm interested in Gateway. Can you tell us a bit about your child's experience there? I'm also curious how the school has developed. It initially seemed to be billed as a place well suited to teach people with learning differences but seems to have expanded to appeal to and serve a broader group. I heard very good things about the teaching staff (ranging from their educational backgrounds to the vigor of their lunchroom conversations) from a librarian I know at another school. Do tell!

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    10. Gateway is a wonderful school; their mission is to send all of their kids to college, and towards that end they provide hefty resources, as their kids come from a huge range of backgrounds. Many will be the first in their families to attend college. They offer robust support for kids with IEPs, which make up something like 25% of their student body (3-4x the district average.) But they also have plenty of high achievers from resourced families, so it's a huge and diverse range of learners.

      Important to their mission is to keep the school small and the classes small, and to make sure that all of the kids are known well to all of the adults. And, indeed, my 6th grader seems to know all of the teachers (including the 7th grade teachers) and all of the administrators. There are also 3-4 full time resource specialists in learning center, who circulate in all the classes and know all of the kids well. There is extra support for those who need it, both pull out classes and push in support (in the classroom) and kids are encouraged to know their individual learning styles, advocate for themselves, and solicit extra help from teachers and tutors when necessary.

      The college focus is evident even in the 6th grade. In addition to field trips to visit local colleges, the 6th graders had an assignment to research colleges, find one that interested them and write a letter to the Admissions departments to obtain more information. Attending college is reinforced every year with similar projects and field trips.

      We've had a great experience so far. Its small size, commitment to meeting each kid's needs, and college focus translates into lots of individualized attention. It would be impossible to fall between the cracks here.

      And, yes, the teachers are terrific! Also love the principal and vice-principal.

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  7. So my question to those that might have done this before is that we got into our first choice public school Grattan and got the "too young" from Burkes. I'm inclined to count my blessings and move on.
    But if in fact my daughter would be a "strong candidate " for next year should I try to get in again? I'd like to avoid this lottery for 6th grade and HS.
    However I do like going to a neighborhood school. Thanks for any input.

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    1. You won't have to go through the middle school lottery if you're happy with your feeder (Grattan feeds to A.P.). Beginning in 2017 5th graders will get the feeder offer before the choice process begins. http://www.sfusd.edu/en/enroll-in-sfusd-schools/feeder-patterns.html

      However, as it stands now, you still have to go through the high school lottery.

      Other than that I don't really have any input other than both my kids went to Grattan and it was a very positive experience for our family.

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    2. Thanks. It's the location of AP that got me thinking of Burkes, if I have to go across town in 6th grade why not apply to schools that I consider, far away.

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    3. I thought it was odd Grattan ended up feeding in to A.P. It is far away from the neighborhood it services. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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    4. Why not go with K at Grattan, then re-apply for K at Burkes?

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    5. IF you look at google maps and get transit directions between Grattan and AP, you'll see that the #71 is a straight run from one to the other.

      While it's hard to imagine now, when you're looking at a barely 5 year old, they do grow up and become able to take public transit! (Heck, my 12 year old travels MUCH farther than that for a school we all love.)

      Also, at least this year, SFUSD is running school buses between the feeder elementary schools and middle schools with weird commute problems (eg: Bus from J Serra to Hoover, Monroe to Hoover...)

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    6. Oops. I've lived here over 15years and never took the 71 to the end of the line in that direction. Thanks for pointing that out.
      She is so little, I can't imagine that I'll be shipping her off to school on her own.

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    7. We were in your exact same shoes last year. We received a "too young" letter and got our 1st choice assignment. We decided to take our assignment and give it a try. It didn't work out for our child and we re-applied to some of the independent schools. A year really makes a big difference. We just made the decision and are leaving our public school. We do have mix feelings about it. When they say that your child is too young and reapply they really mean it. You will most likely get in the following year...

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    8. @ 9:41 - that is exactly what we will be doing. I wanted to glean if the 'too young' letter was just a polite no thank, or not.

      @ 2:12 - sorry to hear public didn't work for you. I went to this board b/c I heard a few first hand stories of dissatisfied people at our (new) school and I wanted to hear more about public to private switches and if it is realistic. Thank you.

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    9. But you still need to apply to 5 or more schools if you are serious about going private. I know people who applied twice and got all wait lists the second time and eventually got off the last day. There are no guarantees. But it is likely if you apply broadly and hang in there during the "silent" week.

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  8. We have been offered Synergy, CDS, and Alta Vista. All have major strengths and of course some weaknesses and the tuition varies quite a bit. With Synergy we worry that the school is so small that by 8th grade, he might be just over being in the same school with the same 22-26 kids. Anyone have any experience with Synergy being to small? Thoughts?

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    1. I worry about this too for Synergy, but I think that the fact that the 6-7-8th graders interact quite a bit helps. Everything else seems optimal to me.

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  9. Claire Lilienthal vs. SF Schoolhouse. Any thoughts? I love Sf Schoolhouse and know it would be an easy transition for my son, who is on the younger side, but how do I pass up a spot at CL??

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    1. I would go with Lilienthal. It's a small campus for K-3 and great atmosphere. Plus you have some strong measures and indications of what you're getting.

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  10. We toured CACS and have some familiarity with the school through various friends and acquaintances. It definitely was not for our t, astes, but many many families just love it. It seemed a little too unstructured and chaotic. I like a school that runs a tight ship.

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    1. I'm curious what led you to feel it was unstructured/chaotic . . . I'm a total type A personality and didn't get that vibe at all.

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    2. My kid is on his 6th year at CACS, GATE identified, aces his STAR tests, and more importantly -- he is happy and anxious to go to school everyday. Yeah -- it isn't "run like a tight ship" but I don't want my kid treated like a navy cadet, I want him to enjoy school and keep being curious and excited about learning. Talk to people who send their kids there; ignore the second-hand digs. Welcome to our school!!!

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    3. I also thought it was chaotic when I toured. Check the sidebar for several old threads on CACS and a variety of expressed opinions.

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    4. Give CACS a break. I don't even have a child there but live very close to the the school and have been involved as a volunteer. They've had a rough go with multiple building moves, a destructive fire in Dec 2011, the unexpected departure of their highly regarded head, the effort to secure the adjacent building on Golden Gate for a school expansion. Despite all this, they seem to be a very vigorous, passionate, warm, fun community. Their population is also trending upward significantly in terms of income -- judging on the cars at pick-up, the parents who go for pick-up, and their fundraising goals (I've also toured several times over the years -- my kids did not ultimately get in, though we were dealing with twins and later decided their current public is a good fit for them.) Yes, there has been some chaos there, but figuring out how to manage challenge and finding a way to educate kids while moving buildings (from the fire, for example) should be applauded. With more stability and a strong community, they are poised to get even better.

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    5. Yeah! Thank you 8:29! I'd also like to add the fact that they got their acceptance letters out on time. ;) that's a joke with some truth to it. We are thrilled to be welcomed into the CACS community... In fact we received an email yesterday inviting our family to 3 upcoming, scheduled and structured events. Pretty cool.

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    6. Was very excited to see CACS, and the arts integration is a great part of the curriculum. I love that it is a small, very involved community and the k-8 continuation is also a bonus. I do think the incoming Gateway middle school will make an already smallish campus seem smaller, let alone the noise levels and traffic/parking! BUT, I wouldn't call them "chaotic" in terms of academics - maybe I'd say they are just in the development phase. I would like to see more emphasis on math and science and that all the "traditional" assessed skills are also emphasized. Yes, with the coming of the Common Core standards, students are going to be asked to problem solve, communicate and argue their thoughts with multiple ways to solve and present information. I am sure that all the CACS students are able to do that. But, I was not convinced that there were any strong curricular programs in place to support that. I don't know, just my own gut feeling.

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  11. "I like a school that runs a tight ship"

    ROFL

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  12. Creative Arts Charter vs Daniel Webster SI...

    Shot for Buena Vista, Alvarado, and Fairmount SI, to no avail (not CTIP), but we liked DW on touring. Now feeling exceedingly torn.

    Daughter is very into drawing, dramatic play, world-building; but she tested fluent in Spanish and leaving that behind is extremely hard.

    Feel like many of the pros (strong committed community, intimate) and cons (infrastructural uncertainty) are roughly comparable. CACS is K8 which is a plus. But with DWSI we might hypothetically transfer to BV (say) in 2nd grade when only kids coming from other SI are able to do so. If we find shifting more compelling than staying, which is impossible to predict.

    DW: 10 minute by car. CACS: 20?

    Our ideal is walking/biking but neither really works [sigh].

    (Grateful that both options we can picture our daughter in and see good in...)

    Going to try Quixotically for first-choice SI in Round 2, but assuming we will be attending one of these... what to do!?

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    1. We toured Daniel Webster and I left feeling a little wary. Obviously there's a lot of parental involvement these days and they are doing amazing work but it still seems like a struggle there. The facility is severely lacking (it was freezing cold when we were there and there were pigeons flying around in the cafeteria) and the road to improving the buildings seemed to be unclear. The middle school situation as extremely vague with the parents admitting that the current pathway was untenable but their plan to take over the middle school and become a k-8 school didn't seem concrete yet. That situation doesn't seem resolvable yet either. There's a lot of neighborhood love and immense (deserved) pride for how far they've come but I wan't really excited about joining them for the rest of their journey.

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    2. DWSI if I was you. CACS seems to be getting much love this year but has had organizational/political issues in the past.

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    3. Thanks for the perspectives!

      Sure seems like 'uncertainty about what's coming' is a strong component to BOTH of them.

      DW could push through the K8 expansion -- trying to get an up-to-date account on that from friends who attend... which would mean a discombobulated couple of years but a good path in the long-term; Buena Vista was a first choice for us partly because of the K8 aspect. Or could not, leaving us with a conundrum for middle school...

      CACS needs a new principal who can solidify the gains of the last one, and build on them.

      (Pretty bummed to hear the district is doing them out of their second building, it seems distinctly malicious... :P)

      Wonder how we'll react if a spot at TECA Spanish opens up, too...

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    4. Well we just released our spot in TECA SI so there's hope there, too!

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    5. I've observed that when you talk about CACS, you talk about your daughter's interests. When you talk about DW SI, you talk about the fact that she tested fluent in Spanish. So here's another way to think about this: how engaged do you think your daughter is with the Spanish curriculum? Obviously, she's awesome at it (testing fluent is amazing), but does it excite her? Does it inspire her like the arts?

      Some people are really good at things, but not all that jazzed about them. I'm not trying to guess where your daughter falls on this scale, but it's just another way to try to weigh your options.

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    6. Heh, great observation.

      You have it nailed... I do think that on balance she'd be best served in the day to day by CACS.

      The trick remains (agonizingly) that our notion of 'wanting what's best for her and going to serve her best' goes beyond that day-to-day to also thinking that becoming fully bilingual (and developing the 'biliingual brain') might be a great enough gift to be worth trading something for -- in this case, slippery things like a one-notch-greater 'joy of learning.' In some sense like imposing music lessons. Being able to read music is worth a little teeth-gritting... to an extent. :)

      Most of the SI programs seemed to me to ask that trade off of people -- they seemed to not have the richest spectrum of teaching methods, or richest set of extras, because of the time/energy/etc cost of doing education in two languages.

      E.g. I remain a little vague about how the experience varies for SI vs GED students at Alvarado; I noted that some of the things that were talked up on the tour turned out to apply to the GED side...

      Another way to answer is, I didn't even have to ask her, to know where she'd probably have 'the most fun' or, likely, be most excited to go in the morning...

      ...it's just that thinking about the long term, bilingualism is such a huge thing that it can counterbalance losses in other areas.

      Maybe!

      (Idle footnote: I did notice that the SI classes at DW were distinctly more 'fun' at the K level than the GED ones, because they 'resort' (sic) to music and the like to teach the language.

      But their more classic pedagogy is, while something our own kid can 'do,' going to appeal to her less of course that what I perceived of as the more varied and kinematic strategies at CACS... projects & play are definitely her predilection.)

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    7. I don't doubt the value of bilingual education for a moment in developing the brain. As you know, DW SI was my 1st choice for SFUSD (though 2nd choice overall to CACS).

      But there's a different, amazing level of brain exercise going on when you're pushed to use creativity, design thinking and multi-disciplinary approaches to solving problems, and that's what I value in what they do at CACS. Here's a blog post I wrote about some of these thoughts:
      http://lesleykg.tumblr.com/post/45269315296/creativity-doesnt-necessarily-mean-art

      Different, but both compelling. Absolutely. You've got a tough choice. Lucky for me, I didn't need to make that decision (and we're only a 1-minute drive from DW, many of my daughter's classmates will go on there, etc.).

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    8. And I don't think I made this clear in my post above, but, I think the point is that CACS has the potential to offer your daughter as compelling an education as a bilingual class, but just in a different way. Not just because she'll have more fun or because it appeals to her interests today better (these are nice things, but not what I'd say are reasons to choose a school), but because it'll be teaching her a more multi-disciplinary, design-focused approach to learning and solving problems.

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  13. Got none of the 14 schools on our list. Were assigned to McCoppin, which I didn't even tour. Anyone able to give their impressions? Any insight into why the scores dropped so precipitously in the last year?

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    1. I toured it. I was the only person on my tour -- no one else showed up -- which was a marked contrast to every other school I toured. The principal rushed me through in less than 15 minutes because he had a meeting to go to, and I left with a generally positive feel about the classrooms / teachers / students I saw, but a generally negative feeling about the principal. I can't speak to any PTA because there were no parents there, unlike every other tour I went on... My sense was that the PTA was minimal. There's a general ed tract and a bilingual / language learner tract (not sure of the correct term because it didn't apply to us), and it's a small school -- so one gen ed class and one bilingual/language learner class for Kindergarten. I have no insight to why scores would have dropped last year -- they were holding steady and/or on the rise in the prior years if I remember correctly. Maybe just a statistical hiccup, for one particular year?? I saw/heard nothing on the tour that would clearly explain that. Overall, in my opinion, it was a sweet little school, but the lack of a strong PTA was a drawback for me. I got none of the many schools on my list, and McCoppin is actually my attendance area school -- I live just a few blocks away. I was, of course, assigned to John Muir in this absurd system.

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    2. I had the exact same experience. In my case, there was one other parent at the tour and no PTA representation. The principal rushed thru the classrooms and after 10 minutes he said he had an appointment. There was no time to ask questions. I left so disappointed.

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    3. I'm the OP.
      Toured it today, there were about 10 people. Principal did the whole 45 minute tour. Didn't have much time for questions, but asked to email him with any. It's very similar to Peabody in layout, and I felt the same about it when I toured Peabody - meh. No hallways, no indoor spaces other than classrooms and a bungalo for music/ art. Teachers all seemed nice. Kids seemed to like the principal. There's potential in the school, but classrooms felt a big bare. There's parents helping in some of the classrooms. Unclear what the PTA relationship is currently - seems like the Principal is looking for stronger partnership. Librarian is lovely, and the library is big for that school size. The immersion program is moving to a FLES (i think) next year, and spots are available for that.
      Principal is ambitious and a bit vain. Seems like he's quite open to parent involvement.
      I enrolled. Overall, I feel like if we don't get any of the choices in round 2, it will be fine. I'm not thrilled, but I'm not moving to Mountain View either :).
      Poster at 8:05 - i'm pretty sure if you apply for McCoppin, you will get it. If my review sounds harsh, please forgive - I'm not caffeinated enough to be chipper :)

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  14. In an ideal world, I 100% prefer public school. However, I have experienced in the public system and there are gaps and I think it only gets worse as the grades increase (e.g. 33 kids per class in 4-5th grade). We have met some nice people there, but really only the more wealthy parents are involved, e.g. the lower income parents you never see. I have no fantasies that private schools will make my kids smarter and I don't necessarily prefer being in a sanitized environment.

    However, we have been offered two spaces at a very highly regarded private with financial aid. I'm so torn. I love the well balanced education that the private offers and some of the perks (like afterschool music lessons and built in language programs). I'm just afraid that even with the attempt at diversity, my kids will learn a sense of entitlement that I don't think the public schools foster as much. I don't want my kids to turn into snobs.

    why is this so hard?! I feel like I should be jumping up and down for joy, but instead I just feel anxious.

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    1. I am right there with you. There is so much opportunity in private school, but there are also so many other problems that could arise. In both cases you will be taking some chances. Good luck!

      I just did a post with some advice I got from college students who went to public and/or private school. Now that I think about it, none of them had entitlement issues. They were very proud of their ethnic and socio-economic background. I think this has more to do with what their parents taught them at home.

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    2. wordofthemutha - curious, did you pick your school? If you are willing to share? I have appreciated your insights throughout this period.

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    3. wordofthemutha - i'm curious too. i've enjoyed reading your posts. and i think we met at the various Hamlin events... =)

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    4. We finally made a decision and this crazy K search is over! I'd like to write-up a final post with how we got to our decision and how I am still nervous about whether or not we're doing the "right thing" for our daughter. Keep an eye out for it. (I'll also finally put up my Hamlin review.)

      Congratulations to all the families that have enrolled their little ones into Kindergarten! You can't get those hours of research, tours, discussion and time spent on this blog back, but aren't you glad it's over? Good luck to all of those who are hoping wait lists move or going on to Round 2+!

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    5. what did you choose?

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    6. 7:01 OP, what did you choose? I agree with you re: the 4-8th grades. That is the time when the education gets more intense in terms of content and skills kids have to learn, yet public increases the class size.

      wordofthemutha- congrats on making a decision. can't wait to hear about it!

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    7. wordofthemutha - what a cliffhanger! please post soon :-)

      @12:00pm. After much hang wringing and lost sleep this week, we have decided on the private school. Even after making the decision we have a decent amount of fear and trepidation. Hopefully for at least few years it can't possibly be BAD, and if need be, we can switch it up again for middle school. I still believe that public schools can be great and that some probably are. For our family and given the specific circumstances, we think this is a decision/path we are willing to venture on.

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    8. Grattan uses PTA funds to keep class sizes smaller in 4th-5th grades (they also do combined 4th/5th grades based on math ability, so kids have the same teacher for two years during that time, which is interesting). Do any other publics do this?

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    9. Yes, Peabody does a combined 4th/5th. They too have a very strong PTO that funds this arrangement.

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    10. Harvey Milk also funds an additional teacher in order to reduce class size in the upper grades. We are able to keep class size to approx 27 students per class instead of 33; a huge difference.

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  15. I appreciated reading the earlier post about Alvarado vs. CDS. We have twins and were fortunate enough to get Alvarado for our public (which is our neighborhood school) and acceptances at Alta Vista, Marin Prep and SF Day. Struggling with the financial commitment we would have to make for 2 tuitions year after year vs. the public school 'free' education. Can parents who made the decision of private vs. Alvarado and went with Alvarado comment? Any regrets? Were they minor regrets?

    We wonder about the middle school process if we were to go private then. Not sure we will be as lucky in getting twins into private schools again at the middle school level...but the opportunity cost to pay for private tuition for 6 years to avoid that seems hefty.

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    1. Hi,

      My kids are in a great private school that I would recommend whole heartedly to anyone with substantial financial means. However, I wish we had gone public K-5 just for financial reasons alone. For 2 kids you're looking at at least a half million dollars to get through k-8. We scrimped and saved every penny to pay for tuition (which goes up every year, btw, sometimes by thousands). That would have covered a LOT of extras for your kids--tutors if needed, music lessons, sports etc. Ask yourself if you think your child might need extra support at some time in their schooling. That is always extra in a private school. There are families at our school who pay an additional $5k-$10k for tutoring every year.

      Some of the privates including ours add a class to the middle school and take in more kids to diversify the class socially etc. A pair of twins joined my son's class in middle school from an SF public school. If that is your plan, you should definitely invest in some tutoring as the time grows near so your kids are working on the same content level.

      If it's a stretch now financially, it will be unworkable at the high school level where tuition is dramatically more expensive (add $10-$20k per year to lower school tuition) and financial aid is scarce. Hard as it is to get into private elementary needing financial aid, it's much worse for high school admissions. Families like ours who received financial aid at the elementary level are shut out at the high school level. Our high school counselors told parents to avoid financial aid requests at all costs or face not getting accepted to any of the private high schools.

      In the end, no college cares where your kids went to elementary school. They do consider where they went to high school, though.

      Good luck with your decision--it's a really hard one to make.

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    2. what private are you at?

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    3. Would not take CDS - friends of ours were put through the wringer by CDS after they got a letter stating "your kid has [a certain learning disability], which we can't deal with, find another school in September". Turned out to be a complete misdiagnosis, but even with two experts stating it was a misdiagnosis CDS still showed our friends the door.

      If your kid's hunky dory and potential Ivy League material, CDS is happy to take you. But if you're a wee bit outside the norm, they'd rather take someone else's money, is the lesson I drew from how our friends were treated.

      So, I'd go Alvarado. Cheaper than CDS, and they won't to kick you to the curbside and sell your spot to someone else if your kid is too much work for them.

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    4. A friend had a bad experience with another private school and a child with some special needs. I don't want to name the school because it was a couple of years ago and I think the administration may have even changed since then, but it's definitely something that concerns me about both public and private schools (but especially private because they have so many resources, it almost seems cold-hearted to not serve kids whose special needs emerge over time). How do I know if the school I'm choosing now will be able to handle whatever's going on with any of my kids down the road??

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    5. For what it's worth, this is the OP from the CDS/Alvarado string. We opted to turn down our CDS spot, and are looking forward to joining the Alvarado community next year!

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    6. Congratulations on your decision! Very exciting!

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  16. For our kindergartener, we are torn between public (Commodore Sloat, not high on our lotttery list) and private (Adda Clevenger). The first we are not excited about for reasons that have to do with start time, proximity, so-so reaction during school tour and other family-specific reasons. AC seems like an excellent fit for our child, has a Head of School whose educational philosophies are compatible with ours and an advantageous schedule which incorporates 'extracurricular' activities during the school day. We really thought we wanted to be in public school and know that just because we CAN afford private, we still have to need to decide if the difference in the education is worth the HUGE cost difference over time. However, AC is the better choice for our child if cost is not accounted. Feedback welcome; decision day is tomorrow!

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    1. If money is not an issue and you like AC better, then go for AC. If the tuition is an issue and you will have to tighten your budget, then go for Sloat. The school is not the sum total of the child's education. It's a combination of parental involvement, family resources, parental support, and the school. If Sloat has involved parents and you are an involved parent, your child will be supported and do well.

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    2. My child just finished at Sloat and we LOVED it!

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    3. We spent three years at AC and loved it (great community) but it is very specialized with its arts focus. I like the subject teacher idea, but when we were there, the academic curriculum was all over the map, strong in some subjects, weak in others, without a noticeable effort among teachers to coordinate their content so that what went on in one class complemented what the students were doing in their other classes. That may have improved under the new Head of School--it's something to look at carefully IMO. The full days are a double-edged sword: awesome if they reflect your family's priorities and your child's enthusiasms, but so time-consuming that it's hard to fit in anything else. I honestly think AC's unique program is a great reason to spend money on a private school--it's significantly different from public school rather than the same basic subjects in a fancier package.

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  17. I thought Sloat was so charming (that library! the parents! the subject matter specialities of 4th and 5th grade teachers!) and I put it right below the school we were assigned and now I'm kicking myself!

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    1. If you mean because you're not attending, if it's any solace, we have friends who pulled their daughters out recently.

      They were active and contributed during their whole tenure, but cited the current administration -- which is not the one they started under -- as a textbook example of how the wrong leadership for a place creates an insurmountable obstacle to the efforts of an energized and active parent community. (Sounded to me like bad fit, not bad people, but this is anecdotal...)

      Which goes to generally show that something not as appealing now may bloom in your tenure, or contrariwise, that a trophy may continue to be disproportionately popular on the basis of historic factors that no longer apply...

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    2. This is the poster from 1:56 -- thanks. I never like to hear bad news about a school and things are probably just fine for most families at Sloat but this is helping with my anxiety about whether our assignment (Sunnyside) is the right one...

      I actually think Sunnyside is going to be good, I just tend to agonize (and second guess myself) about these things.

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    3. I'm poster at 1:48 and now I'm even less enthused about Sloat. Can you give any more info about your friend's experience? Any examples about conflict between parents and current administration (is that code for "new Principal"?) Obviously I will weigh all SF K Files feedback with other factors, but more info would be helpful. Thanks!

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    4. From what I heard it wasn't a question of good to bad, but from great going to stagnated. The anecdotes I got were about our friends and similarly motivated parents pushing for things to happen, and being frustrated by a failure to pick up on offers, opportunities, and ideas. And yes, I assume it was the principal setting tone, but don't know the admin structure there to confirm for sure.

      Our friends have admittedly high expectations, and had become accustomed to having them shared and met, I believe, so found a down-shift to relative passivity and inertia frustrating enough to be a deciding factor in leaving the city altogether.

      It was not a case of being 'driven out' or 'fleeing a bad school' -- more a personal decision that knowing first hand that excellence in public schools was possible and a pleasure, to move somewhere they were confident they would find it.

      I know a couple of specific anecdotes but don't know the details well enough to paint them. :/

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    5. Sloat is a warm, friendly, active, wonderful school with caring and hard working administrators and staff. Yes, we have a new principal and with that comes challenges at times. All I know is my kids are thriving and love their school.

      It seems unfair to post negatively about a school you do not attend! Please be more thoughtful with your words. Others will read this and have questions, so unless you know all this first hand, it doesn't seem right to post.

      To the original poster, I'm not trying to make you second guess your Sunnyside acceptance! Just wanted to stand up for my school! :) If you have any specific questions about Sloat I will be happy to answer them!

      Thank you!
      Happy Sloat Mom

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    6. Sloat Mom - thanks for this post. We just registered at Sloat for K! I am still trying to decide whether to go for subsequent rounds or not... anyone who can compare/contrast feinstein, west portal & sloat - in terms of teaching styles, environment & such?

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  18. How does Round 2 work? I have the form to fill out but do I need to bring it in to EPC/555 Franklin or can it be mailed? Is there anything I have to bring with the form?

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    1. formerly optimisticMarch 21, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      Going to a workshop at 555 Franklin tonight. Will report.

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    2. Thank you. I'll look forward to hearing about it. I wish their website had greater detail about this!

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    3. formerly optimisticMarch 22, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      You have to fill out the form and bring it in person in to 555 Franklin. To be on the safe side, bring all the same docs as for round one (you need them to register at your offered school anyway) - although, as far as I could tell, you don't actually need it - they consider this form an amendment of the previous one. If you have a copy of your initial application, bring that too.

      Also, I got a better understanding of the Waiting pool. You can only apply to one school's waiting pool. They start taking applications for it after round 2 results are out and registrations are due. They do several drawings - once you're in a pool, you continue to be eligible for drawings till the last one - which happens end of august - after school starts. The wait pool drawings use the same tie breakers as the rest of the lottery. They will publish online how many people are in each school's wait pool, and you can actually go and change your choice before the next drawing.

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    4. Super helpful. Thanks! We're going to EPC today for Round 2 and I'll report back if anything is different.

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    5. Dropped off the Round 2 form today. They only needed to see a picture ID but we had everything else with us just in case. There was no line and we were in and out in 5 mins.

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  19. Sometimes when your child is on the cusp, you go ahead and apply, based on your notion of what school was when you were a child and certain expectations you have. However, some things emerge in their personality and temperment that show they need more time, as well as observing the age of kids in K classes as you tour. Also the fact that kindergarten is so much more academic and a lot of late summer, early fall birthdays wait a year plays into the decision. Some advised me to wait but wasn't ready to hear it -not an easy decision to make. Some kids can handle being the youngest but mine can't. Even some of the public school principlals advise to wait a year if you can.

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  20. it's a tricky situation when you have a summer birthday. In the end, do what is best for your family and child. We got in at schools that typically sku older but that isn't to say it's not without its challenges.

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  21. anyone out there still yet to decide, especially with the privates?

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  22. Beyond thrilled. Burkes here we come!!!

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  23. released a spot at Convent

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  24. We just got offered a spot at Alta Vista from the Wait Pool. We were just starting to get used to the idea of public school. Now I am back in weighing options mode. I really like a lot about Alta Vista. The science emphasis which my son would love, the strong presence of creativity of all kinds: art, music, language, etc. All of the teachers and students seemed very excited to explore, learn and interpret. And despite some of the criticism I heard about lack of respect for diversity, the school had a refreshing lack of elitism.

    However, we have reservations because they do not have a long-term space, their playground is not very developed, they may not have enough staff, and they don't currently teach all the grades. Plus we would need to reapply for financial aid but will likely have to make the deposit in order to find out how much aid we could get.

    Any thoughts?

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    1. My friends absolutely love Alta Vista.

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    2. I've heard only great things about Alta Vista. They are new but seem to be really organized and capable of growing the school.

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    3. We submitted our deposit for Alta Vista today and are thrilled. We have friends with a 1st grader there and they echoed your observation of a lack of elitism, which we also liked about it. Everything about that school seemed amazing to me. I think they are adding more to the playground equipment. Since the school is only a few years old, they don't have the upper grades yet, but will as the current students progress.

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    4. It's me earlier from 1:14. I am getting more and more excited about Alta Vista the more I read and hear comments. I just got a personal call by the admissions director who was supposed to send me the application/info. She has a medical appointment and wasn't able to get the email out in time. She apologized for the timing and wanted to let me know so I wasn't anxious about not receiving the documents yet. Given this very tumultuous week her gesture was truly appreciated. I'm not sure my nerves can handle much more unexpected waiting.

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    5. We have the same dilemma -- a good public school and an acceptance at Alta Vista. We very much want to do AVS but we aren't sure we can afford it, so sadly we may have to turn it down. If money were not an issue, I would certainly pick AVS. But I have heard great things about our public school choice and I think of the money we can save and put toward PTA or other things for our kids, so I am trying to cheer up, thinking these things.

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    6. It's me again from March 21, 2013 at 1:14 PM. We just finished discussing financial aid directly with Ed Walters, the head of school (who I do not find smug in the slightest). AVS was able to offer us about 8k towards tuition! We are thrilled to officially accept their offer! I've never been so happy to write a $1,000 check. Honestly, their admission process was the most transparent and friendly we encountered (we applied to 5 privates, 8 public and a charter). We feel that the non-elitist tone of the school, small class size, and focus on science make it an excellent choice for our family. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you there! To those of you who have not made a decision yet (or gotten a good choice)- good luck with the rest of the process. I appreciate all parents who invest their time and energy into their kids education. We parents are the most important part of the equation.

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  25. Got in to Alta Vista and were just about to accept today and then got offered a spot at CDS. We have to decide by 3:00 and we are SO torn. Love both schools. Love the location of CDS but Alta Vista seems like it has a great new energy to offer. Any input on pros and cons of either?

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    1. I would go with CDS as a more proven track record and location matters when you factor in volunteering and the many times you'll need to drop off/pick up.

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    2. what did you decide?

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    3. We had the same decision to make and chose Alta Vista. I was troubled by some of the negative comments about the academics at CDS on greatschools.org. Alta Vista seems to have a great energy as you observe and the academics seem very solid. I've only heard good things -we have some friends there and they said there is nothing about the school that suggests that it is new -they really have their act together. Our friends also said that the playground has been expanded since our visit -but we aren't sending our kid to school for the playground anyhow -that's something we can do afterschool! They are looking for a new building and my guess is that much like other schools that were new 15 and 10 years ago the new building will be great (Friends has only been in their building 5 years and Live Oak 10 -I may be slightly off on this but it's something like this). For us it was an easy decision. Good luck!

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  26. We accepted a boy spot at Friends finally today. I kept hoping to get off the waitlist at SFDS but never did. :( I like Friends but my only concern was academics, especially in later years (upper school) when some families have been known to leave Friends. That said, it's a tremendous relief to realize it's finally over after this year-long slog and stop waiting by the phone for a call.

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    1. Friends is a wonderful school, and I know a family who has an 8th grader and a 5th grader and they have been highly impressed with the academics there.

      We would have loved to have gotten in there -- we did get into SFDS, which we also really like. But sadly we had to turn it down because of the financial commitment.

      Glad for you that it is over and that your son has a great spot at Friends.

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    2. Friends is a wonderful school! My oldest is now in 9th grade and my younger child is in middle school. My 9th grader's high school is academically very rigourous and she was very well prepared academically. Families leave every school for all sorts of reasons so don't let that kind of thing make too much of an impression on you.

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    3. @4:39Pm which school did you choose after you turned SFDS down? We have turned Friends offer down for the same reason and are going with a good public option. Looks like all the privates' tuition increases by 4% every year which means adding $1k for the next 9 years. That would have just been too much to pay for our family.

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  27. We've been assigned Muir by SFUSD and our son landed on five waitlists, which I believe are all more or less done at this point. What should I do now???

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    1. Redshirt your child another year of preschool depending on birthday?

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    2. Where do you live? If you say what part of town, people can suggest schools for Round 2. Also, could you live with parochial school?

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    3. Don't give up on Round 2 and the Waitpool. Every person I know who has stuck it out through August has been assigned to a school they are happy with.

      Not sure what schools you put for Round 1, but try some hidden gems that aren't in the top 15 like New Traditions and Mckinley. There are amazing schools that have a driven parent community, great principals and diverse kids.

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    4. I second the parochial suggestion if you can live with it. It can be great for peace of mind while you ride out the independent wait lists and subsequent SFUSD lottery rounds and you may be surprised and end up loving it.

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    5. No disrespect intended, but I would not categorize McKinley or New Traditions as hidden gems. They may not be top 15, but their popularity has gone up a lot in the last few years. There might be some Round 2 movement if Round 1 people who got them go private but I would not count on there being a lot of openings. Consider a parochial back up for peace of mind if you can live with it.

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    6. We're in the same situation -- assigned to John Muir, rejected from one private, and waitlisted at another private. We're doing another year at our preschool as a back-up plan, but will, of course, keep playing the SFUSD game. It sucks.

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    7. I feel very lucky that my son got into 3/4 privates. After getting stuck in the TK situation with SFUSD last year, I put him in the Junior Kindergarten program at Stratford. He was well prepared for his interviews this year and I think it helped him. Stratford has no financial aid, or he probably would have stayed there. I wouldn't have gone back to the public for fear they would have pushed him ahead. His reading is amazing, he has learned to tell time, count change and do basic math. It might be an option for some who are stuck and can afford it.

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    8. Anon 9:57- I heard Stratford is pretty rigid- and sort of old school (not progressive) education. Is that true? I like the strong academics- but do not want a boiler plate environment either. Could you please comment? Also, which private did you end up choosing?

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    9. It is pretty rigid, great for kids who have a hard time focusing. I wouldn't call it progressive, and I had some issues with it. But it was good for a year.

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    10. the winners of the lottery are the educated stubborn parents.
      You are doing the second part, educating yourself.
      Now try to stick to your goal.
      We got in last year at the 5th round (september) in Rooftop. It's not impossible, and we would have waited one more round, and kept applying the following year, most likely.

      Just count how many years your decision is worth, and balance it out with your motivation. K-8/feeder, or several kids, and your decision spins 8-10-15 years! isn't it worth a little patience?

      finger crossed for your next rounds.

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  28. We accepted our spot at Marin Prep today! Excited!
    (even though the whole process turned the rest of my hair gray...)

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    1. Yay, 1+1+1=3! Been keeping my fingers crossed for you, very happy to hear the news. Will you try again in Round 2, or has this process aged you enough already?

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    2. I am feeling so unsettled by this whole process but we will definitely try round 2 and maybe beyond.

      congrats to the both of you! Cant wait to hear where you both ended up (I have my guesses).

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  29. Come on over to McKinley folks. Nice school; good vibe; happy engaged parents; and often, a lot of spots at the start of the year. My son's K teacher there has been one of the best teachers ever and a joy to be around as a parent, and this is my third time around.

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    1. It feeds into Everett.

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    2. It does, but a few questions. Is it a given that your child will go to public middle school? Does it make real sense to base your decision for early elementary on 6th grade down the road? That is, assuming you believe Everett to be terrible, is it fair to write off 6 years of education at another school? Do you really think all the kids assigned to a feeder end up there? The lottery continues, and will continue even as the feeder pattern strengthens. Also, before you write off Everett, take a tour and talk to actual parents and students there now. Also go talk to the librarian there or staff who've been there to witness the start of a changing demographic. Ask them what they see - is there a change, or not?

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  30. formerly optimisticMarch 22, 2013 at 2:27 AM

    Since 14 choices weren't enough to get us a school on the list, I'm trying to see what I missed in Round 1. Does anyone have feedback to share about Lawton?
    Thanks!

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  31. Is Alta Vista closed?

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  32. The German International School in the Presidio still has openings. It is a small school with a K an a 1st grade, adding a grade each year. German might not be the most useful language, but I really loved the school and it's setting. If you are still in limbo, check out this growing school to see if it might be a good fit for your family.

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    1. I've heard good things about this school--has anybody chosen this school? I would love to hear feedback.

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    2. My friend chooses this school for her daughter, and they seem happy. It was not her first choice; it was their back-up school where they ended up enrolling after not getting in to any of her other privates. They have been happy so far, it is a loving school and not very academic in the younger years, which works well for their daughter Not sure how it is later. The one back draw that she talks about is that because it is so small there are not a lot of friends to "choose from" when they are having friendship issues. It has also been a little difficult to fit into the community not being German.

      They will apply elsewhere for middle school, but seems to be a nice little school for the lower grades.

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  33. I've seen a lot of comments about looking into parochial schools as an option for parents who were shut out of private and/or are unhappy with their public assignment. Even a few years ago this was truly an option. But today this makes no sense to me as the parochial schools have already concluded their admissions cycle for the year as well. Many of them say they have "rolling admissions" but the reality is that they have already filled their classes. We are Catholic and applied to our parish school along with 5 other Catholics after we were unhappy with our private/public outcome. We learned that if you weren't already pursuing this option along with the others, the classes have already been filled and you will be "wait listed" indefinitely.

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  34. One decision not seeing so much this year are people saying they will move out of the city based on school assignment. Is anyone seriously considering this and where would they go?

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    1. marin. mill valley, most likely.

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  35. Got our first choice public (Starr King) or could continue with CAIS (where we are currently in pre-K). We are torn. CAIS is amazing and the resources and rigor are unbeatable. My son is happy there. But we love the idea of public and Starr King seems like a great community and a real can-do school. We can swing private school tuition but we certainly feel it, and I worry that we'll have a harder time as he gets older and his needs become more expensive.

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    1. I would talk to parents at Starr King who have children in 3rd or 4th grade to see what their experience has been and then talk to parents at CAIS. Use those conversations as guides.

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    2. Congratulations! Some thoughts: how important is it to you to maximize Mandarin proficiency? Would you be OK with some Mandarin proficiency, even if it's not to the same degree as CAIS?

      Agree with the above that talking to parents would be most helpful. Looks like Starr King is having a Mandarin immersion night on April 10, 6-7:30; this might be a good place to meet parents.

      Both are great schools, so you can't go wrong either way. If you love CAIS, I'd first talk to them about your situation and find out how much financial aid you'd qualify for, if not for this upcoming year, then for subsequent years. That might reduce the financial factor in your decision.

      As far as transferring in later grades, switching from CAIS to Starr King would probably be straightforward because only Mandarin-proficient students can transfer in after 1st grade. Going from Starr King to CAIS seems more difficult and might involve a lot of catch-up since CAIS's curriculum is so rigorous, plus its CAIS's kindergarten classes are starting from a higher average level of Mandarin proficiency.

      If you'd like to check out the Mandarin curriculum and character list for Starr King and Ortega, they can be found at
      http://www.jinshaneducation.org/mandarin/

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    3. Agree that CAIS to SK would be an easier transition than SK to CAIS, and is far more common, due to the rigor of CAIS. And it's not just in Mandarin; I know of a few cases of SK kids not being not being able to get into CAIS due to lagging considerably behind CAIS kids in English, presumably due to SK's curriculum being weighted more heavily in Mandarin.

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  36. Might you be able to try Starr King for a while, and if it doesn't work, come back to CAIS? Is there a way to leave on especially good terms. Or to still stay connected in some way, say doing the summer camps?

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