Friday, June 10, 2011

May 31st

May 31st was the date that Seattle Public Schools had told us they'd sent out the school assignment letters.  May 31st was the day after we'd return from our family vacation to San Francisco.  May 31st was two and a half months after I'd submitted our application forms for the "choice" school assignments that would finally get our kids attending the same school.  And May 31st was about 2 months longer than my stomach, head and anxiety level could really tolerate.

When I woke up on May 31st at 5am, no longer able to sleep, I was kind of like a kid on Christmas morning anxious to see what Santa brought, but slightly concerned that Santa may have filled many of the brightly wrapped packages with vipers (the snakes not the cars) and steaming piles of dog shit.  Not that Santa brings those things in my house, but you get the idea.  I immediately logged onto the SPS website and saw that no information was available until "mid-day," and we'd be notified by an update to the website. 

I spent much of the morning refreshing the SPS website.  I hoped that maybe, by some minor miracle they'd actually get make the information available earlier than their published deadline.  (God I'm hilarious, everyone knows the SPS never exceeds expectation at an administrative level).  So as I sat in my morning meeting, half listening to my very important work and half obsessively reloading the enrollment page I wasn't expecting my cell phone to ring.  When I looked at the caller, it was Big Dog's school.  Immediately assuming it was a call to pick him up, I answered.  It was the principal.  She started in her usual way, "Hi Laura, it's the principal (actually she used her name).  Big Dog is fine."
She does this to keep parents from panicking.  It always makes me smile because I am one of those parents who panics as soon as the number shows up on my phone.

"I just wanted to let you know that we got our registration lists for next year today and Little Dog is on them.  He got into our school," she continued.
I nearly screamed with relief.
"I know the letters are in the mail today, but the registrar (again, she used the person's actual name) told me you were concerned, so I thought we'd give you an immediate call so you could stop worrying.  He's in."
How many schools have a principal who care this much?  How many schools have staff that remember a concerned call asking about enrollment numbers hoping to get some kind of idea of how much of a long shot we were dealing with?  This is why we're happy here.  This is why Little Dog needed to go here.  I thanked her profusely, breathed a giant sigh of relief and felt about 50lbs lighter than I had for the past two months.

Over the course of the day I checked in on the Save Seattle Schools blog to see if others were as lucky.  Unfortunately many were not.  In more popular schools families were split up and even those who had checked the "Sibling Placement" priority box, meaning they were putting the desire to keep their kids in one school together over the desire to be in any particular school, were not given the assignments they were hoping for.  As relieved as I was, this made me feel a little sick.  These families are now forced to live the stressful pull between schools that I had been dreading.  Shutting kids to two different schools, rushing between locations for big events like the first day of class and end of school year activities. It got me thinking.  I don't think many of those who put this "plan" in place thought through just what they were doing to families.  Even with all of the community input at the meetings discussing the New Student Assignment Plan where families begged for a transition period that would ease the plan in over a period of 3 or so years.  Even with the petitions and letters to the school board.  Even with the very real families calling the office, begging them to reconsider.  I don't think they considered how this made families less able to support their students, less able to support their school.  Nice work Seattle Public Schools.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Sounds like a crazy way to place kids in school BUT I'm really glad you got the school you wanted for both boys. Congratulations!

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