From S.F. Gate by Jill Tucker:
What if you build a $54 million school and no one comes?

With less than a year until the opening of Willie Brown Jr. Middle School in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, district officials fear that’s just what might happen.

In a last-minute scramble, the superintendent and school board are hoping to lure families with a valuable incentive: first dibs at any city high school if they attend Willie Brown for the three years of middle school.

The plan, if approved by the school board Tuesday night, amounts to a golden ticket to their high school of choice — something parents could only dream about in the odds-against-you lottery for the city’s most desirable high schools.

Siblings would still have top priority in the high school admission process, but Willie Brown students would be next in line, virtually guaranteeing them their school of choice.

“You have to offer something that is so powerful that it can make them disregard the decade of the old Willie Brown,” said school board President Sandra Fewer. Families “need to be wooed back a little.”

Modern amenities

The demolished Willie Brown Academy, which was at the same site as the new school, posted among the lowest test scores in the state consistently over 10 years. When it closed in 2011, there were just 160 mostly African American students in grades four through eight, even though it was the only middle school option in the neighborhood.

The new school, with a 650-student capacity, will be filled with high-tech classrooms, science labs, a new teaching staff, a modern cafeteria, art and music programs, and great curb appeal.

“As parents begin to consider which middle schools they will request for their child next year, we want them to seriously consider Willie Brown Middle School,” said Superintendent Richard Carranza. “The new Willie Brown will offer a rigorous technology-enhanced curriculum, a full community schools approach to support students and families, as well as teachers who have specifically committed to being part of this new diverse school community.”

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