New student assignment system: An update

I’ve been receiving a lot of questions from parents on the new assignment plan, mostly centered around the planned release of the new attendance area boundaries and middle -school feeder patterns next month. In a recent meeting with district staff developing the new plan, I received some further information about how the review process for the new boundaries and feeder patterns will work:

  • The proposed list of citywide schools, draft attendance area boundaries and draft feeder patterns — as well as a proposed transportation policy — will be formally released to the public on August 18, the date of the next Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment.
  • After that meeting, members of the public will have several weeks to comment on the proposed citywide schools list, the draft boundaries and feeder patterns as well as the proposed transportation policy. In addition, these proposals, draft boundaries and draft feeder patterns will be further discussed by the Board at a yet-to-be-scheduled Ad Hoc Committee meeting in early-to-mid September. 
  • The citywide schools, attendance area boundaries and feeder patterns will be finalized after taking into account any public comment and Board discussion; the final version of the boundary map and feeder patterns will be released by September 28.
  • The Superintendent’s proposed transportation policy will be formally presented to the Board as an action item for final adoption at that September 28 meeting.

I can tell from my email that there is a great deal of anxiety and concern about the new process, and I know that it’s frustrating that we don’t have all the information right now for people who are trying to make life decisions that they feel will be affected by the new system. But the process is moving and progress is being made. In the coming weeks a lot of things will become clearer — and hopefully put minds at ease without raising too many new worries (perhaps I am an optimist).

Please use the comments section to post specific questions you have about how the new system will work; I’ll use them as the basis for a FAQ to be posted in August.


13 responses to “New student assignment system: An update

  1. When will the draft attendance areas be published online and what is the exact address? Thank you,

  2. 1) Will the assignment areas be drawn so that there are enough spots for all the kindergarten age students in the assignment area?

    2) Will one result of the new system be to give students in oversubscribed areas a big advantage in citywide school spots vs. students in undersubscribed areas?

    3) If a child is born late in the year, would you recommend that the parent apply when the child would be 4 at the beginning of the school year, and then try again the second year? Will there be a maximum age to start school to prevent extra redshirting? Can you keep your younger child (i.e. November baby) in K a second year, and if so, where do they fall on the list? There is no spot right now for kids already enrolled, only siblings. Or will your child be forced to switch schools if he/she isn’t ready for first grade at the end of the year?

    4) How many children are there that are siblings expected to enroll at each school, and how many children in the CTIP 1 and 2 areas have typically applied to schools outside their assignment area?

    5) What will be done about families that “fake move” to a CTIP 1/2 area for the fall and then move back. (i.e pay for an apartment for a few months during the lottery process)

  3. Laura Cavanaugh

    I own a home two blocks away from Miraloma Elementary and want to send my daughter (now 3) and son (17 months) to Miraloma, but I understand that siblings, children attending SFUSD PreK and children who live in a CTIP1 census tract (Miraloma is CTIP2) have preference over chidlren wo live in the attendance area. I am very frustrated that, although my family has made a significant financial committment to buy a house in a neighborhood we love, my daughter may be assigned to a school across town. We have considered both private school (which we can’t afford) and moving out of the city (which we don’t want to do), because it seems as if the system is weighted against families who just want to send their children to a neighborhood school. My question: Will there be any places reserved at schools for children who live in the attendance area? Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to share my views with you.

  4. silly question, but is the August 18 meeting open to the public? i went to the sfusd website and didn’t see anything about it. if not, then how are the draft boundaries “released to the public”? on that website? or somewhere else? classic example of how confusing this process is…

  5. How will public comment on the draft plan be solicited? Will there be community input meetings at local schools?

  6. Bryan sent me this question offline that I thought was good for the FAQ as well:

    I’m a little confused about the Fifth preference:

    5) students who live in attendance areas that do not have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the students

    Does this mean if she selects her neighborhood school (which will most likely be Dianne Feinstein) as one of her choices, and doesn’t get in, then she will fall under this preference for all her other choices (Preferences 1, 2 and 3 do not apply to her)? Or does it mean that before the lottery begins, SFUSD will list all attendance areas that do not have sufficient capacity to accomodate all students based on past statistics, and anyone in these attendance areas will fall under this preference if they don’t fall under 1, 2, and 3?

  7. Karen

    Commenter RSF’s questions # 2 and # 3 are exact questions I’ve been having as well since the new system was first announced. I’m sure its not just the two of us, so I just wanted to reinforce that I think a lot of people are confused on those points.

    Thanks for all of your hard work.


  8. Sarah Davis

    Two things.
    First, Its sad that this could not wait another year till the new census data comes out. What is the process for changing/reviewing the boundaries as needs change.

    Second, I believe that one of the criteria for “need” is weather you qualify for free or reduced lunch. It’s almost impossible to find out if you qualify on line. When you fill out the enrollment paperwork, you check the box if you do. Nobody checks your paperwork until the first day of school. How is this process going to evolve in the new system?

  9. So many questions, so little time…
    1) If you move (within the district) after your child is placed in a school, what happens? Are you supposed to change schools into your new neighborhood school? What happens if you move before your child starts kinder but after they get an assignment? They can’t really expect people to give up their spot when it’s probable their new neighborhood school no longer has any more room, right?

    2) Will the boundary lines be drawn with the intention that every house within those lines should be able to send their kid to kinder in the neighborhood school, or do they anticipate a lot of overflow? And if they anticipate overflow, where will it overflow (into the closest neighborhood school, into the nearest school with room, etc)?

    3) Will we be assigned to a school BEFORE putting our school choices down? In other words, if Sutro is my neighborhood school, will I automatically get a spot there just by registering my child and then if I want to try for immersion/k-8 I can list other schools I’m interested in, or, will I just fill out one main list, put Sutro on my list and then get priority there before other people who put that school on their list when the lists are run?

  10. Potrero Hill Dad

    I still don’t understand how the system has changed. It is still a lottery, correct? Proximity to school and thus the ability to have a sense of community still comes after the census tracks or CTIP’s, correct? Now you get unlimited choices instead of just seven when applying?

  11. Kjersti Kirkeby

    Will they make a detailed map available for the CTIP1 vs CTIP2 areas on August 18th?
    Knowing if you are in a CTIP1 area or not makes a huge impact on how many schools you would want to visit etc.

  12. How will the assignment system work? Will we be assigned to only one school nearby, or will we have a choice of schools near?

    Will we get first choice to citywide schools, if they are close to us?

    In our case, Daniel Webster may be our assigned school. How will the district and school suddenly handle a whole new population, with potentially different needs than the current population? Is the district/school really prepared for how changes in the student population may change teaching needs?

  13. I like to understand the detail of the selection algorithm. Back in February I have watched 1/2 hour of presentation from the Standford team on the new algorithm. They’ve used verbal description like “A points to B’s choice and B points to C’s choice and we will swap their choice to make them better off, … etc” I intuitively understand what they are trying to do. But devil is in the detail. For example I like to know exactly how the initial selection is made.

    My background is in computer science. I can talk in very technical term. I don’t know if this is the right place for this kind of question. If there is a better person in SFUSD to answer this I hope I can get more detail from them. Not only am I going to be the first group of parents to use the new system, I hope I can understand enough detail to explain to other parents in a more non-technical term like how is the new process an improvement to the old process. But right now I only have a fuzzy concept on it.