Ups and downs of a San Francisco parent's public school application process
Before the application process for the 2011-2012 school year kicks off in earnest, we wanted to share a mom's trials and tribulations from her SFUSD school application experience this past year. Lisa Borah-Geller, a curriculum developer for Developmental Studies Center, has so graciously shared her heartwarming story with us.
I once received a winning lottery number. No, I didn’t win money. It was better—I won one of the coveted spots in the freshman-housing lottery at UCLA. My good luck guaranteed me a place in a three-room suite with four roommates rather than a minuscule dorm room with one or two others.
This time I wasn’t so lucky. In January, we applied for kindergarten for the 2010–2011 school year for our daughter in the San Francisco Unified School District. In the SFUSD lottery system, parents choose and rank their top seven of the district’s sixty schools and hope for the best. Last week, we received word that we had been assigned to none of our seven schools. Our assigned school doesn’t work for us logistically. It’s very far away from home and work, and our daughter would likely not qualify for the after-school program.
A mother turns on her computer. She sees that “The PDF” is posted and informs her husband. He yells, “Wait for me!”
“You’d better hurry. I can’t wait any longer.”
“Where is our row?”
“I can’t believe it—there is a zero in our row.”
“What does that mean?”
“Are you sure?”
The mother starts to cry tears of joy. The father says, “How do you feel?”
“Very happy and lucky!”
“Should we tell Lila?”
“I think we should wait until we get 'The Official Letter.'”
Who are these people? What are they talking about?
“The Parents” are my husband and I, and Lila is our daughter. We are looking at the latest San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) waiting pool PDF list. Our daughter finally has a kindergarten spot in a San Francisco public school that we like (it’s a creative arts school and uses the Caring School Community® program) and that works logistically for our family. Kindergarten starts in just over a week.
The next day, we received “The Official Letter” from SFUSD, which congratulated us on getting into our school. We told our daughter that she finally had a school. A big smile spread across her face.
“You mean this is really my school, for real now?”
“Yes, it is!”
“Can I get an extra special dessert tonight?”
“I think that would be fine.”