Oakland’s school assignment letters went out last week, and the appeals line on Monday was long. Michael Bonino, the improbably affable guy who runs OUSD’s high-stress Options program, told me the first person showed up at 2:45 a.m.
All in all, the district’s Family and Community Office expects roughly the same number of appeals as last year — about 500 by the end of the week. According to the preliminary count, 84 percent of incoming kindergarten families got one of their top three picks for 2009; 92 percent of sixth-graders and 98 percent of ninth-graders did.
Here’s where the numbers get interesting (although maybe that’s not the adjective you’d choose):
- Thornhill admitted 80 neighborhood kids and younger siblings for an ideal kindergarten class of 60 (three classrooms). Ten neighborhood children were redirected to Montclair.
- Montclair also had a record number of neighborhood applications — 83 — and admitted a grand total of 96 kindergartners for four classrooms.
- Hillcrest took 40 kindergartners; 18 were sent to Kaiser.
- Kaiser, once considered a de-facto magnet school, only took one non-neighborhood/non-sibling kindergartner.
- Chabot, like Thornhill and Montclair, had a record number of neighborhood applications — 92 — for an ideal kindergarten class of 80. I don’t think that even includes all of the younger siblings of existing students, who receive top admissions priority.
- Fewer than five Options seats were available at the most requested schools — in other words, for kids who don’t have an older sibling at the school or live inside the local attendance boundary. (Hillcrest, Chabot, Montclair, Thornhill, Joaquin Miller, and Crocker Highlands had zip.)
- Hillcrest and Thornill families were automatically put on a wait list.
Bonino said the Thornhill and Chabot numbers were the biggest surprise. One potential explanation for the spike in neighborhood applications, he said, is related to economics: that families who might have applied exclusively to private schools, before the meltdown, are now applying to public schools in the hills, too.
Hopefully soon I’ll be able to post more school-specific Options data, a spreadsheet listing all of the schools in the district, and how many applied to each.