Monday, September 14, 2009

L-minus one year and counting…

Today marks the first day of kindergarten for Boston Public School students. If things go well, around this time next year, I’ll be seeing my son off for his first day of K1 (kindergarten for 4-year-olds). As the school buses have invaded our neighborhood, my son is very excited about the prospect of potentially getting to ride one EVERY DAY.

I did a lot of early school visits last year, but there are still many in the West Zone that I need to see (Conley, Sumner, Haley, among others) and others that I need to revisit because things may have changed (BTU) or I had my son along with me during the tour and wasn’t able to focus well (Lyndon, Curley, Beethoven).

Countdown to Kindergarten says there are more than 2100 K1 seats in the city. But BPS doesn’t guarantee children a K1 spot, only K2. That can leave a lot of parents in a pickle.

West Roxbury Transcript had an article in May about the predicament parents face when trying to get their children a K-1 spot. They’re really West Roxbury/Roslindale-centric, which isn’t exactly fair since students could be assigned anywhere in the West Zone, which also encompasses JP and parts of Roxbury and Dorchester. (The article says it includes Mattapan and Hyde Park… maybe they were relying on the proposed rezoning, which has since been dropped). Anyway, here’s what they said about K1 seats in Westie/Rozzie this past year:

“There are 222 K-1 seats through eight [West Roxbury/Roslindale] schools for this September’s class. All 222 seats were filled after seat assignments went out. The two most desired schools in the Parkway -- the Kilmer and the Lyndon -- had waiting lists of 154 and 152, respectively, for September 2009.

“To put that in context, the Kilmer and Lyndon have only 44 K-1 seats each. Also, 123 of the students had the Kilmer as their first choice, and 107 had the Lyndon as their first choice.

“But the Bates and Sumner elementary schools had waiting lists of 13 and 14 for their K-1 programs. The Bates has only eight K-1 seats and the Sumner has 22. The Bates K-1 grade is an integrated special needs program, and all the others mentioned are kindergarten extended day programs.”

I’m not about to judge the family mentioned in the article for the choices they made for their children. We all have to make decisions we’re comfortable with and do what we think is best for each child.

I think one of our strategies in the coming year will be to cast a wide net and list all the schools that we’re happy with on our registration form. If the lottery doesn’t go well for us, we’ll just reset the countdown clock and try again the following year for K2.

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