View Full Version : All SF S.F. school board OKs new student assignment plan

09-29-2010, 10:19 AM
An excerpt from the SFGate article (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/29/MNNI1FL2V7.DTL) by Jill Tucker:
The San Francisco school board put the finishing touches on a new and long-awaited student assignment system Tuesday night, giving children a better shot at getting a seat at the school down the street while still offering families a choice if they want a different site.

The 6-0 vote Tuesday ended a four-year process to revamp a system that parents described as confusing and unpredictable - and a reason to move to the suburbs where you can buy a spot at the local school when you purchase a home.

The school board approved the general outline of the new system in March, but the specifics still had to be decided.

On Tuesday, the board approved new attendance zones for each school, a puzzle-piece map that zigs and zags around the city's hills, highways and parks. The vote also delayed the board's plan to automatically assign middle school students based on where they went to elementary school given parent concerns over access to specialized programs such as language immersion.

The new system will be used for kindergarten, sixth- and ninth-grade assignments starting with the 2011-2012 school year.

Parents still will have a choice of district schools, as is the case now, and a prioritization process would kick in if there were more requests for a school than seats available.

read more>> (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/29/MNNI1FL2V7.DTL)
What do you think of the new system vs the old system? Are you happy with how it turned out?

09-29-2010, 10:24 AM
An excerpt from Rachel Norton's blog post (http://rachelnorton.com/2010/09/28/recap-board-passes-another-milestone/):
Tonight the Board passed another milestone in the years-long effort to update our district’s student assignment system — adopting updated assignment area boundaries for elementary schools and an interim citywide choice plan for middle school enrollment (feeder patterns to allow students to move from elementary schools to specific middle school placements will be put in place for 2012-13 enrollment).

Boundaries are probably one of the most contentious parts of the effort, and I think the staff deserves some credit for managing this piece with a minimum (but not a total absence) of uproar. (Not so much on the middle school patterns. But you could argue, and some have, that the district listened to the very real objections raised by families and agreed to delay this part of the effort. So we may still get more uproar before the redesign is fully implemented.) Anyway, there was only the barest amount of public comment — one person thought we should introduce a “buffer zone” preference (after CTIP, preschool and attendance area) to people who live near an attendance area but not in it; then two members of the public showed up after we had already voted to urge us to delay middle school feeder patterns. No problem!

During public comment, staff and families from Moscone Elementary and Thurgood Marshall Academic High School came to protest cuts in their budgets resulting from lower-than-projected enrollment. Some of Thurgood’s concerns have apparently been addressed by the Bayview Superintendent’s Zone supervisor, Assistant Superintendent Patricia Gray. But the Moscone community is outraged over the loss of a $37,000 half-time Reading Recovery teacher and other funding — a total cut of $46,000.

read more>> (http://rachelnorton.com/2010/09/28/recap-board-passes-another-milestone/)

09-29-2010, 11:18 AM
The board shouldn't be fooled into thinking that the lack of complaints about the elementary school assignment system means parents are happy with the plan. The fact that it's hard to build a critical mass of prospective parents (how do I know who is a new parent at this point) makes it difficult to complain. I've certainly seen one or two parents expressing their frustration at the Ad Hoc meetings about how the boundary is drawn for their neighborhood (Dogpatch/Potreo and one pocket in the Mission), only to be met with a whatever shrug from the board. Many others I've talked to do not like the idea of just one assigned school per attendance area. The board and SFUSD may tout how the new plan is still a choice system but now the odds have gone down meaningfully for parents to get a school they want if they don't like the school for their attendance area and they aren't in CTIP1. And then there are the other prospective parents who don't know how the new system will impact them exactly so they're just taking a wait and see attitude. If the new parents don't like what they get assigned come February, then they'll raise a stink later, choose to move to the burbs or go to private schools. In contrast, the current parents could care less about the elementary school assingment plan since sibling preference protects them from the negative impact the new plan may have.

Let's look at the middle school feeder pattern proposal. It's not surprising to see how polarized and heated the discussion became because the current parents now have something at stake. The ones that are negatively impacted rallied their respective schools behind them. Most of the Ad Hoc meetings end up being about addressing the outspoken concerns of existing parents rather than talking about how the new elementary school assignment plan can be even better for addressing the unspoken needs of prospective parents.

It's disappointing to see from the three Ad Hoc meetings that the loudest got heard and the one or two lonely prospective parent voices got drowned out.