How and What to Learn About Your San Francisco Public Schools
by Robin Dutton-Cookston
Enrolling in San Francisco public schools requires a bit of homework. Navigating the process can be daunting for some families.
But please don’t make the mistake of confusing the enrollment process with the actual schools. San Francisco public schools are vibrant, diverse communities, full of terrific teachers and engaged families.
How to find out more about these terrific schools?
Go on a school tour.
All San Francisco public schools offer tours that are open to the public. Each school creates its own tour schedule and sign-up procedure, so contact schools directly to get on the list.
Attend an open house.
Many schools also host an open house on an evening or weekend. This is a great option for parents who can’t make it to a weekday tour. Again, please contact schools directly for information on open houses.
Things to think about on a tour or open house.
Once you are in the door, you may want to consider how a school best fits with your family. Some things to think about…
Logistics. Get the basics, such as school location, and the start and end times. Is there a uniform or dress code? What is the size of the school? What are the transportation options?
School culture. Do you think your child will like this environment? Does the culture of the school fit with your family’s style and values?
School facilities. Look at accessibility, the yard and play structures, the classrooms, gym, cafeteria, and/or auditorium.
Staff. What is the principal’s leadership style and vision? Do you like what you are seeing in the classrooms? Who are the other adults who work on campus?
Programs. What assemblies and school-wide events are available? How does the school do field trips, library time, and technology? How and when do they add art, gardening, science, and other enrichment? How do they collaborate with business and community organizations?
Supervision. How do drop-off and pick-up work? What are the before- and after-school care options? How are lunch and recess supervised? What are rainy day activities and discipline policies?
Parent involvement (beyond fundraising). What are some easy ways for new parents to get involved? How does the school build community with events and programs that are inclusive of all families? How does the school share information with parents and families?
Other ways to get to know schools.
Sometimes work and family obligations prevent us from attending school tours. Here are a few other ways to gather information about San Francisco public schools.
Attend a fall festival or carnival. Schools often host harvest festivals or Halloween carnivals that are open to the public. Take your little one and check out the fun.
Contact a PPS-SF Parent Ambassador. Our organization coordinates a large network of parent volunteers who are eager to share real stories about their individual schools. Email us at email@example.com to connect with an ambassador from a specific school.
Visit the SFUSD Enrollment Fair. This year’s enrollment fair is on October 29, 2016, from 9:30am to 2:30pm at City College of San Francisco, Wellness Center. All public schools will be represented.
Take a walk around the school. See what the playground looks like through the fence. Sometimes just having a visual image of a place can help make an impression.
Ask your parent networks. Chat with friends and family who already have children in public school. Find out what they like or don’t like about their school community.
Let us help.
Parents for Public Schools of San Francisco is the only organization that helps parents navigate San Francisco public school enrollment. Since 1999 we’ve worked with over 275,000 families, offering enrollment advice and encouraging parents to take on leadership roles within their schools so that each child in every family has access to an excellent public education.