Parents are invited to attend online sessions to hear more about SFUSD’s new policies for determining where youngsters attend school. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Parents are invited to attend online sessions to hear more about SFUSD’s new policies for determining where youngsters attend school. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Update on elementary school assignment process

Upcoming information sessions scheduled

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As an educator and parent, I know that where you send your child to school is an important decision. We all want our children to be safe and supported and to receive a well-rounded, top-notch education.

For the past nine years, SFUSD has used a student assignment process where families may apply to any elementary school in the district. Despite our well-intentioned efforts, the process hasn’t worked as well as intended in meeting all of our goals related to diversity, predictability and proximity.

We’re nearing the end of a robust multi-year process of redesigning how elementary school students are assigned to schools, and the Board of Education plans to vote on a new policy on Dec. 8, 2020.

Throughout the 2019-20 school year SFUSD hosted a series of public meetings with the Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment and in spring 2020 SFUSD gathered community feedback on the Board’s policy goals and three potential concepts for a new elementary school assignment system.

The new policy would move away from our current, district-wide choice process for elementary schools and instead develop assignment zones that allow families to choose from the elementary schools in the zone in which they live. Families would still have choices of K-5 and K-8 schools, language pathways, and appropriate special education programs, depending on their child’s needs. However, instead of choosing from all 72 elementary schools in SFUSD, each family would be presented with a more manageable list of choices and would ultimately be assigned to one of the schools in their zone. The policy is designed to help assign students so that schools reflect the rich diversity of our city.

We hope this policy will lead to more integrated schools and classrooms, offer families of elementary school students greater predictability in where their children will be enrolled in school, and support stronger community connections.

The Board of Education will introduce the new policy on Oct. 20. District staff will present an implementation plan on Dec. 1 and the Board is scheduled to vote on the changes on Dec. 8, 2020. If a new policy is adopted in December 2020, it would likely go into effect for students enrolling in elementary school for the 2023-24 school year.

All Board meetings will be held virtually and community members may participate by phone or on Zoom.

Meanwhile, continuing to hear from current and prospective parents of SFUSD students is critical before we adopt these changes. That’s where you (or someone you know) comes in. We invite you to attend a community information session this month, held online and in multiple languages. These informational sessions will give you an opportunity to learn how the new elementary school student assignment policy will work, ask questions, and give feedback on how the policy will be implemented. Please join us for one of these sessions!

Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m.: Community Info Session in English with Interpretation

Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m.: Community Info Session in Cantonese

Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m.: Community Info Session in Spanish

Saturday, Nov. 7 at 3 p.m.: Community Info Session in English with Interpretation (part of the SFUSD Virtual Enrollment Fair)

Interested? Sign up to attend a community information session at bit.ly/SFUSDinfosession

Learn more by visiting www.sfusd.edu/studentassignment.

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

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