AUSD needs to give Kindergarten Parents more info

So kindergarten enrollment for 2009/10 is closed and the numbers are in and they are neither big enough or small enough to give certainty to parents of kindergarteners on the east end (Edison specifically, but also Otis). There are 78 applications for 60 current spots at Edison and 89 enrollments for 80 current spots (I believe, I’ll have to reconfirm that).

Last year at Edison, there were 65 enrollments, but come fall, only 60 kids attended, meaning there were no bumped children. The year prior, there were 92 enrollments, but only 80 attended, again, no bumps. Based on these numbers, one can’t make an accurate prediction of what is going to happen (though given the economy, I’d probably argue for less kids ditching AUSD for private school, but then again people may be moving out of the district). But pretending they are predictive they mean that between 6 and 10 kids will not turn up in the fall. So actual Edison enrollment is likely to be between 68 and 72.

From a policy standpoint, the district is strapped financially, and is unlikely to be adding classrooms at Edison unless the class is fairly full (they’ve said as much). If the enrollment rate at Otis ends up being similar to Edison, it’s possible that there are a couple of students who won’t fit into their classrooms also. Which means a total of 10-14 east end kids without classrooms.

Complicating the matter is that Edison has already squeezed one additional class in (two years ago) and the popular Girls Inc. after school care program might have to be bumped from their current space in order to find the room for a second additional class. This program offers a big help to the working parents who use it as it bridges the period of the day between the end of school and when parents get home.

Let’s face it, it’s ugly.

The district needs to identify its threshold for maintaining a class at Edison so that incoming parents have some idea as to what to expect next fall. The lottery for spots at Edison will be held shortly, so people will know whether they are “in” or not. If there are 10 additional kids, will the district “import” kids from other schools like Otis or Bay Farm where there were over-enrollments last year? The current decision is so vague as to not really say much more than what was known before the public statement was made.

The district is probably going to have to be flexible over the coming months and may not be able to make a final decision until August, when the actual enrollment numbers are known. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t put together scenarios that will give incoming parents some idea of what might happen. (plan a: 15 kids or more at Edison, add a class. Plan B: 10 Edison kids, plus X Otis and Bay Farm kids=add an Edison Class, Plan C: 8 Edison kids means no Edison class added, etc.)

Patience will be needed on all sides ….there’s nothing worse than hanging in limbo. That said, the district should let the 18 families who will be identified by lottery what is going to happen to their kids.

11 comments for “AUSD needs to give Kindergarten Parents more info

  1. dave
    February 12, 2009 at 7:21 am

    If the East has excess students while Central & West have excess capacity, shifting zones slightly Westward is perfectly logical. Indeed there is ample precedent for boundary changes. There have been numeous examples over the years, primarily in West End.

    Why does the district refuse to redraw boundaries? Why do they proceed with a deeply unpopular lottery strategy?

  2. Barbara M
    February 12, 2009 at 9:24 am

    When we started at Franklin way back in the 90′s (I know some of these kindergarten parents couldn’t legally drink back then) it was busting at the seems at just under 250. Now we have about 280-290. Girls inc has been in almost every classroom on campus. Yes there are a few more playground rules and lunch is a bit tricky but in general it is fine. Somehow no matter what gets thrown at them AUSD eventually figures out a way to accommodate people who have learned the life skill of cooperation.

    I think Dave must live very close to his school as I have the feeling that people close to the boarder feel differently. Very little in life is fair for everyone so lets work together to make sure as many families as possible are happy with the AUSD school that will suit their childs needs.

  3. dave
    February 12, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Changing borders affects few, gives certainty to all. Lottery affects all, gives certainty to none. If your goal is to please as many as possible, border change accomplishes that. Lottery doesn’t.

  4. Kerri
    February 12, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Didn’t Bayfarm have to close a Kindergarten classroom and layoff a teacher last year due to under-enrollment? Wouldn’t Bayfarm have ample classroom space to put an “overflow” K class? I know it’s not ideal for East End parents to drive across the bridge every morning, but I would think given Bay Farm’s test scores and excellent PTA participation this would not be a terrible option.

  5. DS
    February 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    The other large concern I have is that Edison (or Otis) needs to keep the number as close to 80 to sustain that fourth class. All of this ambiguity concerning the fourth class AND the after care is going to yield the exact result they are trying to avoid, which is parents fleeing for the certainty of private school, another year of pre-school, etc… In the current scenario, they are talking about provisionally enrolling the “extra” children for up to the first twenty days of the school year while they sort out the final headcount and determine if they can sustain that fourth class. That is an outright disaster scenario and would present a horrible transition for the children.

    We were also informed that it’s too late to add another portable classroom. Given how long ASUD has been aware of this bubble (at least two years by their own admission), it’s irresponsible to not have better contingency plans in place.

  6. dave
    February 12, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Where di you hear the provisional enrollment thing? If that is fact, rather than rumor, that is a freakin’ disaster. The district might as well cut checks to the private schools, it would be a more efficient way of handing them money.

  7. DS
    February 12, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    It’s in the letter that was sent out to the enrolled students. They are officially enrolling the first sixty kids (with 31 sibling preferences so only 29 open confirmed spots for the remaining 48 kids) and then provisionally enrolling the other 19 children into the fourth class. If the fourth class enrollment number dips as the start of the school year approaches, they are going to remove the fourth class.

    Supposedly Otis is also over enrolled by roughly the same figure so I would hope there is always the possibility that if the Edison class count dips by 5-10 children (which seems likely given past trends), they could take kids from Otis to keep the count high enough to sustain the fourth class.

    How Kids Inc factors into all of this is still a mystery as well.

  8. Andy Currid
    February 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    The provisional enrollment thing is standard practice in the district, it often occurs. They have until the 20th (?) day of school to get classes down to the sizes required to meet CSR requirements (average of 20 per class in grades K-3). So at day 20, kids may get moved.

  9. Whitney
    February 12, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Last year the district’s CFO (Luz Casares) was tasked with looking at facilities and coming up with options to deal with projected overcapacity at several schools. She looked into several options for Edison and finally presented a recommendation to the school board that provided space for an additional classroom and also space for Alameda Island Kids to maintain their program onsite. Does anyone know if that proposal is still feasible and if it will again be presented to the school board for consideration?

  10. dave
    February 12, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Yes, indeed, DS, I got that letter this afternoon after that post.

    You are correct that the district runs the risk that its ambiguity will drive people away, but there is a simple fix: Publicly declare a 4th class is official. Giving parents certainty obviates the need to seek an alternative.

    If they build it, we will come, so to speak. If they continue to waffle & parry, many will not. Most private schools complete enrollment by March. Faced with uncertainty, some public families will go private.

    If they

  11. AR
    February 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Bay Farm has told us that they will have a fourth class, unless enrollment drops significantly between now and September.

Leave a Reply