10 More Days To Magnet eChoices Deadline!

Choices2014.

View the latest updates to the 2014 Magnet Application HERE.

Got Q’s about your points, application, strategy? Let’s talk! 

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Hot Off The Presses! New School Guidebooks for 2014!

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Westside Guide to Public Elementary School

and

Westside Guide to Middle School

newly revised and updated for the 2014-15 school year!

$20 each. Click HERE to purchase.

2014 Magnet/eChoices Site is LIVE!

It’s Magnet Time Again!
by Tanya Anton | GoMamaGuide.com

Choices2014It’s time.

The site is LIVE. The 2014-15 Magnet/eChoices brochure is now available and the application window has officially opened. Apply online now!

Beginning today, Tuesday, October 1, 2013 through the deadline Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5p, LAUSD residents may apply to the Magnet Program or Permits With Transportation (PWT) program for next year.

Visit echoices.lausd.net. It’s ONLINE. 24/7. It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s paperless.

Highlights for 2014:

– No longer accepting late applications. But you can make changes to your online app up until the final Nov 15 deadline. You’ve got 6 weeks to do this folks. Don’t be late. Do this now, get those apps in on time!

– NO NCLB PSC Program! No Option B Magnet/PSC Program Combo!
Due to LAUSD’s NCLB waiver being approved by the US Dept of Ed in August 2013, the NCLB PSC option for students enrolled in PI (Program Improvement) schools is no longer available and will be phased out for current PSC students. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Don’t worry. It’s not available anymore.)

– Notification letters will go out by the end of March and will be sent via email if applied online.

Students MAY be contacted with an opening up until the 4th week of school. (This DOES happen. The late notification. It happened to us this year.) Waitlist points will finalize after then. *Students may also be called during the first 2 weeks of the spring semester. (I don’t personally know anyone who got this call, but beware, it’s in the fine print.)

eChoices screenshot

The Basic Highlights: (Covered in much more detail in my Guidebooks)

Must be an LAUSD resident to be eligible. Falsified applications will be disqualified and removed from the program.

– Can select UP TO 3 MAGNET Choices. Points will only attach to your 1st choice. 2nd and 3rd choices will be entered with 0 points. If you aren’t selected in any of your choices during the initial automated lottery, you are placed back on the waitlist of your 1st choice.

– You are not required to select 3 choices. If accepted to ANY magnet program at any point and turn it down, you will lose ALL accumulated waitlist points.

– Only submit ONE application per child. (Check with other parent to make sure you didn’t both apply.) Must be applying for the correct grade for 2014. State Law governs age eligibility:  5 by Sept 1st for K, 6 by Sept 1st for 1st.

– Student info (address, telephone, grade) MUST MATCH info at child’s current LAUSD school. (Think robo-call info.) It is the parent’s responsibility to complete the application correctly or it will be rejected.

– Twins are treated as individuals with separate apps. There is a space to enter sibling info on each app. If only one gets in, sibling points will apply the following year.

– If currently attending a Magnet and wish to stay there…DO NOTHING! If you apply elsewhere and are selected into another magnet, you will be dropped from your current magnet program. (This has happened to people I know trying to collect points while attending a magnet program. No, No, NO! That’s what Matriculation points are for.)

– If NOT currently in a Magnet and would like to be for next year, apply now. Apply every year until you get in. Waitlist points only go back 3 consecutive years.

– Gifted/High Ability and Highly Gifted applicants must provide verification AHEAD of the Nov 15 deadline. See: echoices.lausd.net/Magnet/GiftedCriteria

– To find more detailed info about each Magnet program, click on the 7 digit school code. To find out which Magnet programs are near you, use my School Finder maps.

If this seems overwhelming or you want to discuss strategy, please contact me for a consultation. I’m happy to help. Magnets are just one of many public school options.
– Tanya Anton | gomama@mac.com

4 New Westside Middle School Options – Who Says We Don’t Have Choice?

by Tanya Anton | GoMamaGuide.com

For years I’ve heard parents say we have no “viable choice” when it comes to middle school on this side of Los Angeles. For years one particular organization’s platform was that we only had one choice in these parts, and that it desperately needed transforming. (Or put more succinctly, our children deserve better!)

While I wouldn’t argue the second half of that sentence, the first part was incorrect. We’ve always had a few choices. In fact this Westside area (from Venice to WLA to Westchester), is known as a district “zone of choice” allowing any student to enroll into any of its ring of five area middle schools. It’s just that despite some valiant efforts, most of the schools in this zone seem to be quite lackluster. And run down. And perhaps face safety issues. And most certainly staffing issues. Not to mention a revolving door of leadership. Perhaps it is choice, but to some it’s a choice-less choice.

So much potential…but just…not…a viable choice.

The continued declining enrollment speaks for itself.

As this recent wave of hands-on parents – the ones who have worked tirelessly to revitalize their elementary schools – and their children approach the middle school years, parents are getting more savvy and invested (not to mention more active) in the types of educational experience they want for their children. Many are seeking a different model altogether and are doing whatever they can to find it, transform it, or if necessary, help create it.

In the past year alone, four new Middle Schools have opened on the Westside. Five since 2011.

Say what you will about density, and impact, but I have personally watched many fine folks toil for years (of thankless unpaid labor) to get these schools off the ground. And here they are.

In any case, when it comes to Middle School options, who says we don’t have choice!

Let’s meet them, shall we?

in alphabetical order:

Animo Westside Charter Middle School – launched in 2011, this Green Dot charter was the result of the LA Parent Union/Parent Revolution movement. With small classes and a supportive infrastructure all students are encouraged to achieve academic excellence.
greendot.org/westside

The City School – launched in 2012, this charter comes from some of the same folks who worked on the two highly successful Larchmont Charters as well as Valley Charter Schools. With a focus on civics, debate and writing, not to mention service learning and building good character, this charter has the intention to expand through grade 12 by 2017.
citycharterschool.org

The Incubator School – opening 6-7th in 2013 and growing to 12th by 2018, this cutting edge new district pilot school will focus on tech-entrepreneurship and will utilize blended learning, design-thinking, real world project-based learning, as well as partnerships with ed, tech and Silicon Beach startup companies and non-profits.
incubatorschool.org

Westchester Secondary Charter School – will open 6-9th in 2013 and grow to include 12th by 2016, offering a rigorous college-prep comprehensive education that includes the arts to athletics. WSCS looks forward to serving students in its community with the autonomy to make its own budget, curricular, staffing and governance decisions.
westchestercharter.org

WISH-Westside Innovative School House – this K-5 independent charter was approved to launch a district pilot middle school but opted instead to extend their charter to include 6th grade for 2013. Steeped in research-based best-practices, and partnered with LMU’s School of Ed, this co-constructivist inclusion school is modeled after the highly successful Chime Charter in Woodland Hills.
wishcharter.org

Stay tuned for future GoMamaGuide stories that will take a closer look at these new school options.

WSMS Map13Be sure to check out my color-coded Westside Middle School map on the school finder page. Includes a complete list of all your public magnet, charter, pilot and neighborhood middle schools in WLA, Santa Monica, Malibu and Culver City.

Upcoming Charter Application Deadlines (Elementary)

Speaking of charters, we are now fully ensconced in what I refer to as “Charter Season.” The time to tour and get your charter school applications in before their deadlines and lotteries.

While not exhaustive, here’s a select list of some of the upcoming elementary school charter application deadlines and lottery dates around town. Most applications can be downloaded online on the school’s website and either mailed in or physically handed in to their office.

CharterFeel free to peruse my color-coded school finder MAPS for individual school contact info and a direct hyperlink onto their websites. All charters are marked in green on my maps.

Remember, independent charters open their lotteries to anyone from any district. Affiliated conversion charters, an LAUSD hybrid type charter, gives first priority to those residing within the school’s attendance area with any remaining seats going up for lottery to non-residents.

All charters give preference to siblings of existing students, and some charters offer other priorities in their lottery structure, such as to founding families, students residing within LAUSD, or students qualifying for Free/Reduced Meal Plan (ie. low socio-economic status.)

Each lottery is independently operated and instituted by each individual charter school. Applications are handled directly with each school site. There are no points involved, thankfully. If you applied and were waitlisted last year, you need to reapply this year.

Ok, here’s that list.

SELECT UPCOMING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHARTER DEADLINES:
(certainly not an exhaustive list and in no particular order)

Pacific Palisades Charter Complex* Schools — apps avail now in each office, deadline March 11th 12p, lottery March 22nd 8:30a *(schools include Canyon, Kenter Canyon, Palisades, Marquez and Topanga Charters)

WISH —  apps avail online now, deadline March 6th 6p, lottery March 15th

Goethe — apps avail online now, deadline Feb 28th,  lottery in March tbd

Ocean Charter School — apps avail online now, deadline Jan 25th, lottery Feb 27th 10a

Larchmont Hwd — apps avail now online, deadline Feb 20th 4p, lottery Feb 23rd 9a

Larchmont WeHo — apps avail now online, deadline Feb 8th 4p, lottery Feb 23rd 9a

Citizens of the World/Hwd — apps avail online now, deadline March 1st 4p, lottery March 21st 6p

Citizens of the World/Silver Lake — apps avail online now, deadline tbd, lottery April 4th

Citizens of the World/Mar Vista — – info Mtg 1/31 in MV, apps avail online now, deadline March 1st, lottery April 11th

Los Feliz Schl of the Arts — apps avail online, deadline Feb 28 (by mail) or March 5th 12p (in person), lottery March 5th

Valley Charter — apps avail online, deadline Feb 8th 4p, lottery Feb 22nd 5p

Chime — apps avail online now, deadline March 8th 3p, lottery March 15th

Ararat —  call 818.994.2904

Our Community Charter — 818.920.5285

Again, please view my school finder maps for more info and links.

Westside Middle School Forum Oct 18th

Update! 2 more schools added to the lineup!

Learn all about your Middle School options on the Westside:

Middle School Forum

Thurs, Oct 18th 6-8p – FREE –
Coeur d’Alene EL Auditorium
810 Coeur d’Alene Ave,
Venice, CA 90291.map
.
School representatives from:
Animo Westside MS
Mark Twain MS
Marina del Rey MS
New West Charter
Ocean Charter
Palms MS
Paul Revere MS
Westside Global Awareness Magnet.
Magnolia Science Academy
The City School Charter

featuring
Tanya Anton of GoMamaGuide.com and
LAUSD School Board Member Steve Zimmer
.
brought to you by Venice Neighborhood Council’s Education Committee

2013-14 Magnet/eChoices site is LIVE!

Magnets, Lotteries, Points, Oh My!
by Tanya Anton | GoMamaGuide.com

It’s that time of year again. Only earlier.

The 2013-14 Magnet/eChoices Brochure is available, the echoices website is now LIVE and accepting applications, and the application deadline is ONE MONTH EARLIER than last year.

Beginning today, Monday, October 8, 2012 through the deadline Friday, November 16, 2012 at 5p, LAUSD residents may apply to the Magnet Program, Permits With Transportation (PWT) and/or the Public School Choice (NCLB-PSC) program.

Visit echoices.lausd.net. ONLINE. 24/7. It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s paperless.

Highlights for 2013 – There Are Several Notable Changes:

-The Big One:  This year you will get to list up to THREE magnet choices. (Yup!!) Your points will only go towards your 1st choice, so your 2nd and 3rd choices will go to the bottom of the wait list, but still it’s a better chance than if you hadn’t applied at all.

-For what it’s worth, most competitive (ie. highly desirable) Magnet programs rarely exhaust their wait list, so being added to the bottom of the list with no points seems like a choiceless choice to me, but hey, it has the “appearance” of offering students more choice.

-Caution: Only select magnet programs you might actually WANT to get into, otherwise if you do get into a magnet program (even your 2nd or 3rd choice) and turn it down, you will lose your accumulated wait list points, so think carefully about your selections. Tread lightly, and smartly. As always, I’m here to help consult if need be.

– If your home school is Program Improvement (most middle and high schools are PI), you will now be able to apply to BOTH the NCLB-PSC program (the District will select ONE non-PI school assignment for you) AND up to 3 Magnet choices. Select Option B-the combo platter. Once you are accepted into a program, you will be removed from other programs and NO wait list points will be accrued. (In previous years you had to choose either the Magnet or the PSC program. Now you can select Option B and go for both.)

The Basic Highlights:

-Only open to LAUSD residents

-The application timeline is a month EARLIER than last year

-You can apply online 24/7 during the application window: Oct 8, 2012 – Nov 16, 2012 5p at echoices.lausd.net

-You can also pick up a paper booklet/application at most local schools and some libraries

-Minimum age: your child must turn 5 by Oct 1, 2013 to be eligible for Kindergarten in 2013

-Make sure you select a Magnet program your child is age-appropriate for, (some Magnet programs don’t start until 2nd or 3rd grade; you can’t apply to Kinder when your child is 3)

-Twins: each child needs a separate application and are treated as individuals. If only one gets in, the Sibling points will apply the following year.

-Magnet tours are happening now, October through mid-November, so get out there and tour some schools!

-There are virtually no more “overcrowded points” due to all the newly built schools and the entire district going on Early Start Calendar. (3 exceptions: Del Olmo EL, Cahuenga EL, Bell HS)

-Points are based on your zoned school determined by your residential address regardless of whether you attend or not

-Transportation is available if you live 2 miles or more from your elementary magnet school, and 5 miles or more from your secondary (middle/high school) magnet school

-The maximum riding time guideline for all students (K-12) one-way is 90 minutes

-The more points you have, the better your chance of getting into your 1st choice Magnet.

-It’s a random lottery so anything can happen.

-If you are currently attending a Magnet school, you don’t need to re-apply each year unless you are matriculating (from EL to MS, MS to HS, or wish to enter the lottery to switch to another magnet school

-You will be notified in writing of either acceptance or wait list status by March, 2013.

-Students may be contacted regarding an opening all the way up through the first MONTH of school. (Used to be the first 10 days of school)

-First day of school for LAUSD will be Tuesday, August 13, 2013. (Yeah, love that Early Start! Not.)

-Falsified applications will be disqualified and kicked from the program.

Again, if this seems overwhelming or you want to discuss strategy, please contact me for a consultation. I’m happy to help. Magnets are just one of many public school options.

If you are hunting for a middle school and live on the Westside, come to a free Westside Middle School Forum where 10 area middle schools will present under one roof next Thursday, October 18 at 6p at Coeur d’Alene Elementary School in Venice. details.

The Conversion Charter…Trending Now

by Tanya Anton | GoMamaGuide.com

With 6 LAUSD neighborhood schools converting to affiliated charter status last year and 25 more schools converting this year, we ask, is it contagious? A sign of the times?

 Why would your perfectly good neighborhood school convert to affiliated charter status anyway, you ask?

It all comes down to the 3 Fs. Flexibility, Freedom…and Funding.

An affiliated charter is a unique sort of “charter lite” or hybrid model that was created in LAUSD to pacify all parties. While this type of charter doesn’t have the full autonomy an independent charter school has, they do have increased autonomy from the traditional district model.

A typcial LAUSD neighborhood school that converts to an affiliated charter school can keep its existing campus and facilities -no fighting for space or co-locations via Prop 39. They also keep their attendance area -maintaining the feel of a neighborhood school with priority enrollment given to area residents. The UTLA teacher contract and District-paid union positions stay in tact -but with it so does tenure and seniority-based bumping rights. The school gains some limited freedoms from the district – and the feeling of semi-autonomy. Most importantly the school once converted can apply to the state for a block charter grant -direct funds based on enrollment numbers, which can make up some of the budget shortfalls the school sustained as a non-charter.

While still overseen by LAUSD, an affiliated charter creates its own site-based governance system typically made up of parents, staff, and administration, so the decision-making body of the school resides on campus, not downtown. The school also gains flexibility in curricular focus, textbook selection, selecting programs and materials, as well as freedom in deciding how to allocate, manage and spend the funds that come unrestricted from the state.

The district still oversees and controls many policies in an affiliated charter, and when lateral budget cuts are made – when a staff position or program is reduced or eliminate districtwide – affiliated charters are affected. When the district decides to change the calendar and implement “Early Start,” or makes changes to the bell schedule, or the number of instructional days, class size ratios, or changes to the graduation A-G requirements – affiliated charters are affected. So ultimately, it’s a compromise. The District maintains some control, the unions maintain their contracts, and the school site gains some autonomy without going full-out independent charter.

There is money involved, surely, particularly important for schools that have fallen just below the now higher Title 1 (poverty level) school threshold. In fact, the majority of the schools that have converted one by one (or seven by sixteen) to affiliated charter, are schools that have lost their Title 1 status, meaning they have lost their additional federal funding. The loss in federal funds, in additional to the continued onslaught of yearly state and district budget cuts, has been devastating.

For an elementary school in LAUSD, already 48th in the country in per-pupil spending, the Title 1 funding loss can amount to $80-150,000 annually from a school’s operating budget. For a secondary school such as the highly-lauded LACES, the loss from their budget this year was $460,000. For Millikan Middle School, the loss was about $600,000. You can see the kind of fiscal pressure a school is under, and why that charter block grant, not to mention the thought of gaining some autonomy, starts to look not only attractive, but necessary for survival.

Read some commentary on it from School Board member Tamar Galatzan HERE. And KPCC takes a look at the issues HERE.

But what does this mean in terms of trends where predominantly high-performing motivated middle class schools capable of self-governance are converting to charter 25 – 30 at a time? What does it mean for the rest of the district’s schools, where high staff turnover, low parent participation, and unmotivated communities do not, or can not, advocate for their schools?

In California we have more students enrolled in charter schools than anywhere else in the nation. Ten years from now, will the majority of our schools be charters? Will the District be bankrupt? Will we (the people, the policy-makers) make public education a priority, an undeniable human right, a necessary investment in our collective futures, or will it become an obsolete novelty gone the way of social security and pension plans?

In updating my color-coded Valley Elementary school map with all the recent charter conversions, there is a clear green line. The charter line. Schools south of the Ventura Freeway in the foothills, in North Hills, and Granada Hills, see the most conversions. Make no mistake, they’re also the areas with the highest property values.

GoMamaGuide’s Valley Elementary Schools Map.

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Want to use this article? You can as long as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
 
Tanya Anton is the creator of GoMamaGuide.com helping parents demystify and navigate their public school options in Los Angeles. To read more articles by Tanya or to learn about her Guidebooks, House Chats, Consultations, and Seminars, visit GoMamaGuide.com or email us at GoMama@mac.com.
© 2012 by Tanya Anton, GoMamaGuide.com All Rights Reserved. 

Waitlisted

by Tanya Anton | GoMamaGuide.com

waitlisted Many clients have contacted me recently after finding out either their child was waitlisted at several places and they haven’t heard anything yet, or they got into two or more schools and can’t decide which way to go.

Being waitlisted is a sensitive topic. Nobody likes to hear they didn’t get into their first choice school. Some high-performing magnet and charter programs are so competitive to get into, hundreds or even thousands of children are waitlisted every year. So, what’s a parent to do?

First, it helps to understand the application/ lottery/ enrollment process so you know what you are dealing with. Savvy parents know that most folks apply to multiple schools but obviously can’t attend all those schools. Therefore, by their very nature, waitlists become bloated and not necessarily reflective of who would actually attend if given the slot. In other words, if I applied to schools A-E, got accepted and enrolled in school A, my spots on the B-C-D-E school waitlists would be technically vacant since I’ve already enrolled elsewhere. As people finalize their school decisions, other folks are silently moving up waitlists all over town, so you never truly know where you stand on a list.

Second, it helps to know the timeline so you can gauge where you are in it and what your possibilities are.The first round of Magnet notification letters go out in early April. Charters all do their lotteries independently, but typically their letters are sent out in the March-April window. (Earlier for middle and high school.)  Permits and Open Enrollment results typically come out in June. After the first round of offers go out, schools will work their way down the waitlist through May and June in order to fill empty spots, but even then enrollment lists are not necessarily final yet, as families shift in their enrollment decisions. School offices close for the month of July, so this is a good time to vacate, have a cocktail, de-stress, as there’s absolutely nothing you can do this month until offices reopen sometime in August, when they’ll continue to work down the list to ensure all seats are filled. Hopefully you will know your school choice by then, but even as late as late-August or early-September, last-minute seats can be offered. Remember, Magnet schools have up until the 10th day of school to notify you if a spot opens up, and neighborhood schools have until Norm Day, usually the first week in October when they finalize their teacher-student ratios to the District, so really, waitlisted isn’t final until then.

Third, stay positive and be proactive. Don’t bug the staff as they are most likely overworked and underpaid, but you can call, say, in late June or mid-August, to see if getting your child in is a close possibility or not very likely. You can also let them know who you are and how very thrilled you would be to accept a spot at their school, should one open up.

And finally, always have a back-up plan. Perhaps that’s your home school which you’re automatically zoned for, or one with a large number of Open Enrollment seats where almost everyone who applies gets in. Perhaps it’s a new magnet program that was announced late and didn’t fill up, or you apply for a PERT – a Parent-Employment-Related Transfer to a school near your business address. Either way, looking back at it, kids always find a seat somewhere.

Confused about your public school options? Can’t decide or want me to go over your choices with you? I can help. Book a 30 or 55min phone consultation with me today.

© 2011 by Tanya Anton, GoMamaGuide.com All Rights Reserved.