Happy New Year! Even though it’s only January, it’s time to start thinking about August.
Why? Because the deadline to apply to San Francisco’s public schools for the next school year is fast approaching. Applications for the 2016-17 school year are due Friday, Jan. 15.
Here in San Francisco, we have a choice-based enrollment system, which means families have the opportunity to choose which public schools they would like their children to attend. This is different than how it worked back when a lot of us were kids, so I get questions about it. Here are some of them:
Why is the January deadline such a big deal? Submitting your application on or before Jan. 15 (“Round One”) means you have the best chance to get one of the schools you choose. It also means you will have time later to change your choice or make an appeal. If you turn in your application by Jan. 15, you’ll receive notification of your child’s assigned school in the middle of March. After the Round One deadline, there are fewer schools with openings so it will narrow down your choices.
How many families get a school of their choice? Typically, approximately 80 percent of families in grades K-12 who applied by the January deadline received one of their school choices. For those entering kindergarten, 85 percent received one of their choices.
Why do some families not get any of their choices? The majority of families get one of the schools they list as their top three. But every year, a few of our schools get as many as a thousand applicants who list that school as a first choice — sometimes as much as 50 students applying for every one seat available. So you can imagine that not every applicant will get one of those seats.
To assign students at these high demand schools, we use a system of tie-breakers. These are things like whether a sibling already attends the school, whether or not a student lives in an area of The City with low average test scores, whether or not a student lives in the school’s attendance area — and other factors all carefully considered by the Board of Education.
The best thing to do is to list several choices that will work for you and your family.
What if I miss the Jan. 15 deadline? My advice: Don’t miss it! Of course, there are reasons you might miss it. Your application is welcome anytime, but choices get slimmer after Round One.
What if I still have questions? We are here to help. If you would like some help, call or visit our Educational Placement Center at (415) 241-6085 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. You can also find more information at www.sfusd.edu/enroll.
Richard Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.
Key Dates for applying to S.F. public schools
Jan. 15: Application Deadline for Round One. Deadline to submit, cancel, change or update any choices for grades K-12
March 11: Round One notification Letters sent to families
March 14-25 and April 4-8: Families must register students at assigned school