Friday, February 01, 2013

Visiting schools

Not too long ago, I started a conversation with a friend (a local mom) about school enrollment for Fall 2013. Jesse starts elementary school and Jennifer starts middle school, so I wanted to know when I’m supposed to start getting things together to get the kids enrolled in their new schools. It’s REALLY interesting that I asked my friend about that at that particular time, because she directed me to a web site and the schools were opening doors to visiting new students and accepting applications right now!

Wow, I am SO glad I asked.

Anyway, I went over the web site with all that information, then had a sit-down with hubby and Jesse to talk about school choice. We decided to let Jesse pick which school he wanted to go to for kindergarten. (In Oregon, you don’t HAVE to enroll your child into the school that is in your district, which is how it was in California when we lived there.) He decided he wanted to go to Jennifer’s school. Jennifer already knows what middle school she wants to go to, and we have been spending time going over the school’s schedules and deciding on how to get her ready for this transition.

So now that I knew which school both of them wanted to go to, I arranged for Jesse to have a tour of the school. He ended up getting TWO tours, because after the secretary informed the principal she would be giving us a tour, the principal said she wanted to give Jesse a more formal tour at a later date.

Today was the date of the first tour. After I got Jennifer to school this morning, I woke Jesse up and we talked about his appointment for the tour while we ate breakfast. As he got dressed, he started to express some concerns to me. What if they don’t like him? What if they don’t like his hair? (His HAIR??!!) What if the kids think he is a baby? Etc. (Jesse still speaks with a bit of a lisp, just like Jennifer did when she started kindergarten.) I assured him they would love him and everything will be fine. There were lots of kids at the school who were his age and, besides, the little kids are on one side of the building and the big kids are on the other side.

So I eventually got him to the school right on time for the tour. The secretary was so nice to him and even at one point was holding his hand as they walked all over the school. They just really clicked! Jesse loved the school and everybody was so nice to him. (He especially liked the playground, too!) At the end of the tour, he drew a picture for the secretary and I bought him a school T-shirt. He has proudly been displaying it ever since he got it.

But I did get some bad news while I was there. After the tour, I was talking with the secretary and we went over the School Choice form which I had filled out and which I had given her when we arrived. She told me that, unfortunately, the school we choose is NOT guaranteed. Apparently, the school district has set up a lottery and students go into the schools they can be fit in. The officials draw forms from a basket and if the first choice school is not full, the student will go to that school. But if it is full, the student goes to the second choice school.

I was disheartened to learn about this. What’s worse is that Jesse does not have sibling priority, in which he’d be given priority for a school a sibling already attends. This is his sister’s last year at this school, so he doesn’t get priority. So we don’t really know if he’ll be able to go to that school. He might not be able to. Which stinks because we wanted him to go to that school because Jennifer went there, even though we left the decision up to him and did not say anything about what WE wanted. We decided to let him choose. But it seems the school district will get to choose; not the student and not the parent. I understand the reason for it but it still sucks.

I was bummed to learn this because another elementary school that is closer to us just had an Open House and we missed out on that because I was set on getting Jesse enrolled in the school he wants to go to. But at least the schools are still having tours. That is a good thing. I’ll have to get in touch with the two other elementary schools I put on the School Choice form and see if we can arrange a tour for Jesse.

As to Jennifer, I decided to head on out to see this middle school she and her friends kept talking about at their school. Students from this school have actually visited her school and told her about it. She has her heart set on going to this school but when I told her about the lottery, she got upset and a little angry. Anyway, I visited this school today as well and met with the secretary. She was very nice and the school itself was nice, too. There are lockers there! A big change from elementary school! So I talked with the secretary and scheduled a tour for Jennifer at a future date. I also asked about the middle school that is in our neighborhood, since I’ll have to put it on the School Choice form anyway, and made a mental note to check out one other middle school I’ll have to list as a third choice.

There was one other school I visited today – but not for scheduling a tour for the kids. This one was actually to donate a copy of Dogs Forever! to, since they opened up a Book Nook and put out a call for donations of gently used books for the students. This school, an elementary school, looked so much like Jennifer’s and I had to wonder how many other schools look so similar. It was still yet another school I had to visit today, and I got a cold reception at this particular school. They wouldn’t let me past the office! Well, I'm glad it's out of our way; certainly would not list it as a choice on the School Choice form! Still, I had a nice “school visiting” day all around and feel I got a lot accomplished.

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