June 21, 2011

Shifting School Lines: What Will Keep Noe Valley United?

The San Francisco Unified School District changed enrollment criteria in March 2010 to give children a better chance of attending their neighborhood school. Since Noe Valley's Alvarado Elementary is highly desired, not everyone is happy with the new borders. Vicki Rosen of Upper Noe Neighbors sent this along:
Dear Neighbors,

Upper Noe Neighbors has been involved in trying to get the School District to include all of Noe Valley in the Alvarado attendance area. Currently, the border ends at 29th Street and we're asking that it go to 30th Street (both sides of the street). We have been told by members of the School Board that now is the time to hear from neighbors who support keeping ALL of Noe Valley in the same attendance area.

Please see the sample letter below, and if you're so inclined, send an email ASAP to: attendanceareas@sfusd.edu.

If you have any questions about this, please contact Olga Milan-Howells at info@MilanHowells.com. Thanks.



Dear SFUSD District Staff,

Please extend the Alvarado Attendance Area Map to reflect the traditional southern border of Noe Valley - 30th Street (including both sides of the street). Currently, the Alvarado Attendance Area Map uses 29th Street at its southern border which randomly cuts off the neighborhood and also cuts off families from using the 24 Divisadero bus line which goes directly from 30th and Church to one block from Alvarado. All neighborhood maps show 30th Street as the southern border.

In addition, Alvarado had more available spots than neighborhood applicants according to the March placement data. While Alvarado did have a very high number of CTIP1 applicants, this could change over time. Also as non-neighborhood siblings from the previous assignment system work their way through the system, more spots will be freed up for neighborhood applicants.
It appears there is enough room for a small expansion of the boundaries.

Thank you for your work on this issue.

Best regards,
Member, Upper Noe Neighbors (and/or resident of 30th St or resident of Noe Valley, etc.)

In brief:
  • Families cite the school enrollment system as a primary reason for fleeing to the 'burbs.
  • The new enrollment takes effect for the 2011-12 school year.
  • The new maps were finalized in September of 2010, but may be adjustable.
  • No one understands this process.

What do you think? Do the borders make sense or need adjustment? Will enrollment changes keep your family in San Francisco?

[SFUSD: Elementary Attendance Area Boundaries]
[SFGate: S.F. losing kids as parents seek schools, homes]


Nails Doverspike said...

Vicki--you are amazing! Thank you for everything you do for this neighborhood.

murphstahoe said...


I don't blame anyone in the neighborhood/area for doing everything they can to be in the Alvarado catchment. I'm impressed with what is going on at that school.

"the 24 Divisadero bus line which goes directly from 30th and Church to one block from Alvarado."

After one would take the 24 bus to that stop, you would be getting off the bus to walk to Alvarado from... the catchment for... Harvey Milk Elementary.

It's going to be a tough sell to say that people on 30th are more naturally placed at Alvarado than people on 23rd Street (I don't know if the boundary is in the middle of 23rd, but the same could be said for Alvarado Street at Castro, where homes basically look right at the school but are in the Milk catchment). I know many people just North of the boundary who are not very happy.

I'm pretty worried that it won't matter - the crowds at Noe Courts, Upper Noe Rec, and Douglass Park make me pretty certain that there won't be enough room at Alvarado for all the current 2 year olds in the catchment, when they reach Kindergarden, no matter if St Philips/Pauls take as many as they can, and factoring in for the subset that are already planning on migrating out of SF.

Adding 30th Street will just add to the oversubscription. Some people on 30th would get in, some people elsewhere would end up losing their slot.

Ah, city life.

sky said...

sorry does the border mean you can attend either school?

IE if the current border is 29th street then both sides of 29th street can go to alvarado? Or could they attend either?

Anonymous said...

"as non-neighborhood siblings from the previous assignment system work their way through the system, more spots will be freed up for neighborhood applicants" - that could take 30 years given the size of some of the families currently crippling our neighborhood's schools.

Anonymous said...

The proposal just means that more people in Noe will be disappointed about not getting into Alvarado. We live squarely in the current attendance area, and we've been unable to get a spot for our soon-to-be kindergartener.

Anonymous said...

"Alvarado had more available spots than neighborhood applicants" ??? Simply untrue.

we're in the current attendance area, had it on our list and didn't get it or anything else on our list.

I'll sign to change the boundary to 30th because it makes sense, but FYI it will hardly matter. The system is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if this sounds bitter (sitting here at Alvarado and Noe), but if interested in getting all of Noe, how about starting with the streets within 2 blocks of Alvarado first? If it's supposed to try and bring in 'neighborhood' then how come this excludes houses 2 blocks away but includes ones 15+ blocks away?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I understand the process all too well, as we're currently getting screwed over by SFUSD. Here's what you need to know: If you live in a CTIP1 area, you get your choice of schools. Every family we know that lives in CTIP1 got their top choice.

So here's my suggestion if you're getting ready for the 2012-13 enrollment process and you really, really want a spot in Alvarado. Rent a place in the Mission and move for a year. (Just check the SFUSD's map and make sure it's within the CTIP1 area.) Then rent out your home (assuming you own). Once you have your assignment and the school year starts, move back into your house and enjoy Alvarado.

It's perfectly legal, if somewhat inconvenient. You'd just be playing by the rules of an absurd system.