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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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.