New map drawn for schools 

The lines have been drawn for school assignments, but the draft documents may not end the controversy about where kids in The City go for their education.

It’s not the determining factor — sibling preference and standardized tests have larger pulls — but a family’s address will play a bigger role in the campus-assignment process.

After decades of debate about school assignments and following more than two years of discussions, the new system, which was based on socio-economic indicators, was approved last spring. The system for 2011-12 will make it clearer which middle school a child will attend based on the elementary school they go to.

An estimated 58 out of the San Francisco Unified School District’s 72 elementary schools will have new attendance areas, according to documents. Attendance areas were created based on the size of a school and the surrounding student population. The remaining 14 — many of which are K-8, language immersion or have specific admittance criteria students must meet — are considered citywide schools.
Kindergarten parents will still need to tour schools they prefer to have their child attend.

Additionally, each elementary school feeds into a middle school, meaning all fifth-graders have a guaranteed spot at a particular school.

However, the option to give up that spot and try for another school is still available.

High school does not have an attendance area or feeder schools.

Superintendent Carlos Garcia said it was the best system available, though he admitted it would not please everyone.

“It does address the issue and concept of neighborhood schools,” he said. “No matter which way we go, there will be differing views.”

Not all parents agreed. Dozens of parents from McKinley Elementary School attended the assignment ad hoc committee meeting Wednesday to raise concerns about their school feeding to Everett Middle School, one of the district’s lowest ­performers.

“I’m terrified for my son to be disturbed and preyed upon [at Everett],” said Diane Zinky, mother of a fifth-grader at McKinley. “When I chose McKinley, I didn’t know I was choosing my middle school, too.”

Others said the system did not rely enough on neighborhoods.

A select few parents said they felt the system was an improvement with the addition of the elementary schools feeding to middle schools.

Todd David, a parent of three — two currently at Alvarado Elementary School — said he’s excited about the new system’s feeder patterns.

“This is an amazing opportunity to bring an entire cohort of fifth-­graders to a new school,” David said.

The new system will be introduced to the Board of Education on Tuesday. Community meetings will follow through the end of the month.

Website deciphers changes

To help parents navigate the complexities of school assignments, the San Francisco Unified School District set up a website that’s designed to make the process easier.

The website, www.sfusd.edu/enroll, launched Thursday, one day after the new campus-assignment process that will use test scores and neighborhoods was revealed to a Board of Education committee.

The website is designed to help parents narrow down and search schools before touring them this fall. On its home page, parents can start by choosing the level — elementary, middle or high school — then narrow their search by seven other factors, including start times, language programs and ZIP codes.

Once options are chosen, schools are narrowed for the parents with links to each school’s website for further research. The site also features links to the updated assignment process and how it works.

Orla O’Keeffe, the SFUSD’s education policy analyst, said the site is designed to help parents discover school options.

“It’s part of our strategy to revamp our outreach and recruitment efforts,” she said. “We’re very eager to have this all finalized because tours start at the beginning of October.”

What’s next

Key dates for parents in selecting schools for the 2011-12 school year:

Tuesday: New campus-assignment process introduced to school board

Wednesday: Community meeting at Charles Drew Elementary School

Saturday: Community meeting at Francis Scott Key Elementary School

Aug. 31: Community meeting at Everett Middle School

Sept. 1: Community meeting at Marina Middle School

Sept. 28: Adoption of student-assignment changes by Board of Education

Oct. 1: School tours begin

Source: San Francisco Unified School District

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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