Registration 2014

welcome_to_kindergartenThe infamous “Kindergarten Lottery” has been in full swing, having started a couple months early this year (January as opposed to March). Aside from policy changes and a new Kindergarten program (Dual-language immersion housed at the revolving door school building on Kirby), I learned a couple things from Stephanie Stuart today.

First, she played a major role in curating a bunch of relevant information and teaming up with a graphic designer to produce a “Welcome to Kindergarten” booklet. The booklet does a really good job of explaining the complexity of Schools of Choice, why we have it, how it works and even has a little lexicon for icons used on the registration form and the jargon used in the Policy. It also includes a list of frequently asked questions (with requisite answers, of course *grin*), and a two-page spread that introduces and highlights each of the 12 elementary school choices. And the very end, the Policy of Controlled Choice is laid out in 6 pages. Overall, the booklet is 42 pages – a little meaty, but it is packed. I am anxious to hear what other parents think of it.

Secondly, I feel like a buffoon for having missed this, but parents this year will not be using an online registration program at all. Last year, the District debuted  a program from Dr. Alves that was problematic, but it got the job done. This year, the District contracted with Codagami, and apparently the contract called to replace only the internal part of the tool, such that Unit 4 staff will utilize the new program. Parents are dialing back to 2012 and having to fill out forms which they submit to the Family Information Center. The current form does not appear to have any of the helpful icons from the booklet, so I am a little confused as to whether the form listed on unit4registration website is really the same form parents are filling out or not.

As stated on the Unit 4 webpage, here are some dates for those wishing to attend a scheduled information event:

  • February 27th, 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.: Tours at all elementary schools
  • March 3, 6:00 pm: Schools of Choice Community Forum at Stratton Elementary School
  • March 5, 8-9 a.m. & 12-1 p.m.: Informational Choice Chat at the Family Information Center
  • March 6, 5-6 p.m.: Informational Choice Chat at the Family Information Center
  • March 11, 8-9 a.m. & 12-1 p.m.: Informational Choice Chat at the Family Information Center

UPDATE: Please use the Proximity App, not the old WebQuery tool.

In an interesting little twist, the district’s web version of “EduLog” (a program that tells the distance from a given address to all schools, sorted by proximity) called “WebQuery” even includes St. Matt’s and Prairie Elementary. 🙂

edulog_sample

Updates on school assignment (aka, Choice, Kindergarten Lottery, etc)

I have been bugging Dr. Susan Zola a bit about the upcoming school registration, especially in regards to the little-known Choice Committee and the status of Dr. Alves’ work with the new software for school assignment. Amidst my many questions, I finally just decided to call the Family Information Center (FIC); I highly recommend calling the FIC, and moreover, ask for the “choice specialist”. She knows a bit.

So, some updates from Dr. Zola first. Alves is finishing up the new software and they are hoping to do some in-house trials next week. The new software interfaces with Edulog, thus allowing parents to get a pretty good idea exactly what their “Proximity” is, answering one of the most perplexing pieces of “Choice”. This is pretty exciting, for as small of a thing that it is. Also, I have requested to be made a part of the Choice Committee – crossing my fingers. 🙂

The Choice Specialist (Becky Loss (spelling?)) confirmed the Edulog work, but unfortunately it sounds like it will not be ready to demo for the Jan 24th Community Forum on Choice. So take note, if you plan to go to the Community Forums at all, they will talk about Proximity and busroutes and stuff, but you won’t be able to actually see the software yet. Hopefully by the next community forum (Feb 5th) it will be ready.

I also asked some specific questions about how Magnet school registration coincides with “normal” registration. Here is the low down. If you choose a magnet school(s) as your first choices, it will be processed in a special “Magnet registration” queue. The cool thing is that your first non-magnet school choice becomes your first choice in the non-magnet registration queue. I know that is confusing, so let me try a few examples.

Example 1

You really want to try for Bottenfield, BTW and Dr. Howard. Because BTW is a magnet school, you can choose BTW as your first choice and Bottenfield (which is typically rather difficult to get into) as your second choice. Due to the new rules, your Bottenfield choice becomes your First choice against everyone else if you don’t make it into BTW. But keep in mind, the chances of getting into BTW are extremely high, so keep that in mind.

Example 2

You try for Bottenfield and BTW and South Side, but this time you make Bottenfield your first choice and South Side your second choice. Because BTW is not listed first, it will not be processed in the magnet queue. Bottenfield will be your first choice and processed alongside everyone else. If you don’t get in on the first shot, you will be placed on the waitlist (with potentially a hundred other parents) and then the computer will stack you up for South Side, and then BTW if South Side doesn’t work out. On the odd chance that BTW has filled up by the 3rd round, you are out of luck.

Some interesting things to come out of this. You can choose all three magnet schools as your top three, and then any other school as #4 and that school will automatically become your “regular school registration” number one choice. Weird, eh?

Another interesting thing that the Choice Specialist mentioned is that you can choose all 11 schools if you like. Wow! I highly recommend all parents to rank-order all schools! 🙂 Or in other words, number the schools 1 through 11 in order of your personal preference. I specifically asked if Dr. Alves’ program would handle more than 5 choices; “Probably not”. *grin* None the less, if you fear the dreaded “unassigned” letter, then by all means do yourself a favor and rank order as many schools as you possibly can. Most of the unassigned letters in years past are because parents only choose 1, 2 or sometimes even 3 schools.