Yesterday I started laying out the process of picking the school Primo would go to kindergarten and we looked at the Charter School options. With our applications in for our three Charter options we turned toward the Public School choice. Our Neighborhood school is James John Elementary School in heart of St. Johns. The school is a great looking old brick building a short bike ride away. This is a K-5 school that ranks fairly low in the city for the quality of the school. A high rate of single parents and one of the lowest parent participation rates play a big part in those rankings. After reading about the school online we felt pretty reticent about sending Primo there but going to the open house and talking with parents and counselors has helped a little.
Public School Choice
The Portland Public school system has a school choice lottery that works like this: Families can enroll their kids at their neighborhood school or apply for a transfer to any public school in the school district. Transfers are determined through a centralized lottery, and space is limited. There is a transfer form that we fill out that lists the three school choices we would like to transfer to. They try to match everyone in their first option and if there are more applicants then spots then they are put into a lottery to fill those spots. If you don’t get in to the first one your next choice is tried, but everyone that used that school as their first choice would have already filled those slots so it is unlikely you will get that second or third option unless there are a lot of spots and little interest.
After doing hours of research and talking with anyone and everyone we decided on the schools that we would try to get into. We paid attention to how close it was to our house (we only have one car), the quality of the school, and special programs the schools offered (full day kindergarten, arts based, spanish immersion). Our first choice was Astor Elementary School less than a block from where Primo goes to Pre-School. Most of his friends will go there, we know the bike ride, and the school is one of the best in the city. While there will be higher class sizes this year we felt like this was a good option for us. The problem is there are four spots available after the kids in that neighborhood are accounted for. That combined with how appealing this school is make it a long shot for us getting a spot. The only shot we have is putting that as our top choice and hoping we get picked.
Our second choice was Ockley Green, an arts focused school on the way up after some tough times. There is at least one kid in Primo’s pre-school that will be going there and arts and technology focus are appealing. There are a number of spots available at this school and it is very likely this is where Primo will be going to school next year. The bike ride is a bit farther away so we will need to work on getting those training wheels off his bike but the full day free kindergarten makes that ride a little easier.
Our third choice was Beach Elementary school’s Spanish Immersion program. The Spanish immersion program works to teach kids to fluent in a foreign language by the eighth grade. Instruction in kindergarten is delivered 90% in Spanish and 10% in English. For each subsequent year, the percentage of Spanish is decreased by 10% and increased in English.English. For each subsequent year, the percentage of Spanish is decreased by 10% and increased in English. By fourth grade, instruction in the two languages is a balanced 50 – 50%. The program delivers a unified curriculum, based on Portland Public School District Curriculum and Standards, with high expectations in both English and Spanish. There are a number of spots here so we if we don’t get in Ockley we may end up here but really this was just a last option like The Emmerson Charter school. We feel like Primo would excel in this environment but its a long bike ride away and more of a commitment so hence it’s lower seeding.
Like I said, we have turned in the applications for the Charter schools and filled out our Public School transfer choice so now it is a matter of waiting and seeing. The fact that we have put this much thought and work into the process will have as much to say about Primo’s success as the right school will. We are completely comfortable with our Neighborhood school at this point but still hoping that it will be Trillium.