Tag Archives: middle school

Student assignment and transportation: meeting recap

At tonight’s meeting of the Ad Hoc committee on student assignment, Board members were briefed on the Superintendent’s proposed transportation policy, which will come up for a vote at tomorrow night’s meeting of the full Board. The upshot:

  • General education transportation will be reduced by $1.4 million — currently there are 44 buses running routes in the morning and afternoon, but by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year there will be 25 buses;
  • Remaining routes will be reshuffled to align with the Board’s goals;
  • There will be limited transportation to afterschool programs (children bused to non-SFUSD programs may see their transportation eliminated).

I generally support the Superintendent’s proposal because I am more interested in applying our very limited dollars to the classroom than I am in continuing a transportation system that makes little sense under our current realities. I also support the district’s (unrealized) vision of sufficient afterschool program capacity at every school. Still, I have consistently said that I do not think the new transportation policy as proposed offers enough support to families who will find the transition to the new system to be very painful.

Currently, there are about 3,300 SFUSD students who depend on a morning and/or afternoon bus. After this policy is fully implemented, there will be perhaps 2,000 students riding yellow buses to or from school.  Five years from now, families will have adjusted their school choices and commute patterns to match the options available (yellow bus transportation, carpooling, walking or MUNI). But as I said above, the transition will be painful for families who made their choices under one system and are going to find their options shifting right under their feet.

But commissioners made very clear tonight that they disagree with my suggestion that the district offer guarantees — either of new school assignments or space in afterschool programs — to families who suddenly find their arrangements unworkable for their commutes or work schedules. The best I could get was an assurance that counseling would be available for parents who need help making new arrangements. Hopefully that will be enough.

Next up: Parents for Public Schools-SanFrancisco and the Parent Advisory Council presented plans for an extensive community engagement effort around the middle school feeder patterns — initially proposed for the 2011-12 school year but postponed until the 2012-13 year after objections from parents and school communities — particularly around the implementation of language pathways.

Starting in late January, SFUSD will convene (in partnership with PPS-SF and the PAC) community meetings at each of our 15 Middle Schools and other community organizations to review a draft proposal from district staff and elicit reactions from community members. Those meetings will continue through March, with a report on the community feedback issued to the Board sometime in April.  The goal is for the Board to adopt a final middle school feeder plan in May.

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In other news, the Board’s Curriculum and Program committee heard a report on the district’s Small Schools by Design policy, which is up for review this year. Board members asked for a more extensive review of student achievement and other data to be brought to a Committee of the Whole later this year.

The committee also voted to send the C5 International School charter application to the full board with a negative recommendation based on the staff review of its curriculum offerings. The full Board will vote whether to approve the C5 International School’s charter application tomorrow night, Dec. 14.

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Mark your calendars: upcoming SFUSD meetings and events

The next two meetings of the Ad Hoc meeting on student assignment will be of interest to folks who are concerned about the new transportation policy and/or the middle school assignment policy for 2012-13 and beyond.

Tomorrow night’s agenda features a staff presentation on the new transportation policy — a substitute motion will be introduced to the Board incorporating earlier feedback; in addition Parents for Public Schools and the Parent Advisory Council will present plans for a large-scale community engagement effort around the middle school feeder patterns.

Additionally, I’m told that at the January meeting of the Ad Hoc committee (not yet scheduled but usually the 2nd Monday of the month) we will be presented with more information on the planning for middle school feeder patterns.  More information when it is available.

Finally, the installation (swearing in) of Board members elected (and re-elected) last month will occur on Friday, Jan. 7, at Tenderloin Community School, starting at 6 p.m. The public is cordially invited.

Recap: Assignment committee recommends delay

Update: the PDF presentation for this meeting is posted here. You can find descriptions of adjustments made to attendance areas starting on page 8.

As expected, at tonight’s meeting of the Student Assignment committee, the Superintendent formally requested that the Board delay implementation of the middle school portion of the new student assignment system for one year. Committee members accepted the recommendation and fowarded it to the full Board for a vote on Sept. 28.

Specifically, Deputy Superintendent Richard Carranza explained that after considering feedback about unclear reform initiatives, special education pathways and building capacity in our middle school language immersion programs, the district had concluded that the one year delay was the best way to ensure instructional quality going forward. A number of initiatives, including the redesign of special education, the implementation of the Lau Plan for serving English Learners, and the School Improvement Grants just rceived from the state, are in their infancy at the current time, and the district concluded it was better to roll out all of these improvements more fully before implementing feeder patterns.

Fifth graders seeking a middle school placement for the 2011-12 school year would instead go through a temporary process with no initial assignment; families would submit an application with a list of choices by Feb. 18, 2011. The system would place younger siblings first, then students in CTIP1 areas, and then all other students by general lottery (no diversity index, and no attendance area preferences).  Students would be placed in their highest available choice, or offered placement at the closest middle school with space if none of their choices were available.

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