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    Kindergarten Assignment

    My stomach is in knots today.

    All on account of our school placement.

    Let’s review Belmont’s school application process as background:
    –    There is no “home school” anymore due to high population growth over the past 5-7 years
    –    In the past 2 years, Belmont adopted an algorithm to determine school placement
    –    The algorithm considers one thing, and one thing only: your walking travel distance to any school in the district. The algorithm is optimized to minimize total distance traveled by all applicant families, and not to minimize any individual travel.

    Which is why we were placed in the farthest from us school in the district.

    I’m mad. I’m disappointed. I’m stressed out.

    We were assigned to Nesbit Elementary. It is our 4th closest school. 4th! For an algorithm that is supposed to optimize distance travelled, we sure are getting the short end of that stick.

    Here’s what bugs me:
    1.    We were told that 98% of students are assigned to one of their two closest schools to them. For good measure, because we’re so borderline to 3 we visited all 3.
    2.    Only two tour dates were setup to visit all schools in the district. All schools, all on the same days/same times. S and I divided and conquered and saw 3. We didn’t think we’d need to see the 4th onward.
    3.    Without knowing anything to the school we’re assigned to, all I can go for (for now) is the API score. It’s the lowest performing school in our district. While the others are given school scores of 10s, (and one 9). This school is a 7. The API scores have gone up in the last year, and I hear good things about the new principal, but for now I know nothing else. We need to invest more time to get to know this school. More time off of work.
    4.    We will be called up when a spot is available in our closest school. BUT, we don’t know when – anytime in the next 6 years the district feels confident we will have the opportunity to move. This makes it hard to plan for so much. Things like:
    5.    After school care applications. Luckily the Footsteps program the boys have been in for so long services all Belmont schools. BUT, they provide shuttle service to only one. If we get into one, and then have to move mid-year what happens? How will G get to after-school care? If we have to leave work daily to drive him, we might as well not need after-care.
    6.    Teacher assignment. If we’re getting moved, we get no say, and his application is not considered when teachers decide who goes in which class. Not that I know much about all the teachers in each school, but I certainly have a preference if he gets placed in Fox.
    7.    Friends. Playgroups will be forming soon. Even if we don’t do the summer-time playgroups, and I feel confident he can make friends in the first few weeks of school, I don’t love the idea of moving him mid-year, or any time after first grade starts where he has to start over. I didn’t have the best of luck making friends after being yanked out of a school, and I just don’t know at what age this REALLY becomes a problem, and how much of a problem this is for boys. Granted, we can make a decision NOT to move when being offered the chance to, but what if we still WANT to?

    Oh yeah – did I mention that the way they call kids on the list is based on their proximity to the school with an opening? And since we’re farthest away from any school, it’s not likely to be us anytime soon.
    I KNOW we will be given the opportunity to move, but the WHEN is killing me.

    I feel teased.
    San Carlos schools are closer to us, since we live on the border, but we can’t apply there. There’s the great charter school in SC that is our closest school (oh irony!), but by the nature of us not being in the same district, we’re not eligible. I already felt like even with our “good” Belmont schools, they still didn’t stand up to the SC Charter. And now this.

    Are my kids losing on education opportunities? I don’t want to go to a private school. At least not for an elementary education. I didn’t see the need. I didn’t see the value. Did I miscalculate? Did I make a mistake by not even applying? Well — it’s too late now!

    Honestly, everything we’ve dealt with in Belmont to date has not gone in our favor. House renovations, additions and now schools. Every corner there’s been a “it works… but not for you!” I know that the various government agencies all mean well, and have good intentions, but the way their final implementations are ran… well it leaves a lot to be desires. It really makes me even madder that when we bought our home 7 years ago I didn’t have this foresight and held out for a place in San Carlos.
    The thing is that I love our house now. I love it. We’ve put so much of our souls into getting it to live just as we want it, that even if we could afford to move, I would have a hard time parting with it. With more of this Belmont stuff though? It’s starting to level out.

    Last year, S and I ran the numbers on moving. To move a town over, at then housing costs, would have cost the same as us sending the boys to a private school for the rest of their education. Now housing costs? Even more expensive.

    So here we are. Waiting. We can’t even tell G what school he’s assigned to yet because we don’t know how that will change by the time the school year starts.


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