SPS wait list procedure question

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    We’ve got a 4YO so it’s time for me to start thinking about some options for kindergarten next year (fall 2016.)

    Our assigned school is West Seattle Elem.

    My understanding is our child is automatically guaranteed a spot in that school.

    If parents think West Seattle Elem is not a good fit for our child, we can apply at other SPS schools, right? Here is my question. If we feel *really* strongly that Wes Seattle Elem is not a good fit but we are not in a position to move, can we apply to 20 other SPS schools, thus increasing our chance of getting into another school? Or are we limited to applying to just a couple schools? Additional information – we do not need school provided transportation. If it’s provided that’s great, but we are more than happy to provide transportation ourselves if it comes to that.

    Thanks for any feedback!



    Skeeter I am pretty sure they just did their first round of choice assignments, see on SPS home page:


    I am not sure what that means for your current chances of school choice. We have friends that just got their twins into STEM, which is near you, it is popular, so not sure how many spaces are left…




    Thanks kgdlg – our child is going to Kindergarten in fall 2016. So we haven’t missed any application dates yet.

    My specific question is if we can apply to 20+ schools if we feel strongly that our assigned school is not a good choice for our child.



    Good for you for thinking about it now.

    Just be warned that whatever the system is this year, it could change next year.

    But I don’t think you’ve ever been able to get on the list for 20 different schools. Think about how chaotic that could be for the already disorganized district. The max I ever remember seeing was 5.



    I think you can only be on one waitlist at a time.



    I believe you can only put 2 or maybe 3 choices down on the open enrollment form. Then you can only be on one waitlist as fatkitty said. The district then gives you a choice of giving up your waitlist spot and going to your attendance area school or going to the choice school you’ve opted for. The West Seattle Elementary attendance area is also the geographic preference area for the Stem school. This means that your odds of getting into the Stem school as an option school are high. With that said, the rules may be different for schools that are considered low performing based on test scores (I know West Seattle used to be in that category but am not sure about that now as they’ve worked really hard to improve the school). I would definitely call enrollment services and talk to someone there. I would avoid the front line people there and ask to speak to a supervisor though. Just based on personal experience you will have better luck.



    West seattle elem being a low performance school will not help you get higher on any waitlist. King 5 did a story on my son when we basically got trapped at west seattle elem even though we lived across from alki because it was the year before your neighborhood school was a guarantee. How it works now…you list your top 5 choices in order of preference. If your first choice is not your neighborhood school you will get wait listed if they are full with neighborhood students. You can only be on one waitlist at a time. Be aware that after the second week in Sept they disregard the waitlist. So, if you really want a different school make sure you call the district around mid Sept to get rewaitlisted.



    Mom2boys thank you! I have another question. So you list your top five in order of preference. Let’s say #1 is full, #2 is full, #3 is full, and #4 has a spot. Does that mean I can take option #4 and then I choose which wait list I am in – #1 or #2 or #3?

    Second question. If my child doesn’t get into any of the top five then I assume she would be assigned the neighborhood school. As that point, would I be told how long the wait list is for the other 5 schools so I could choose the one with the shortest list? Or am I not told how long the waitlist is because the school wouldn’t know at that point and I just roll the dice and try to choose the school that I think/hope will have the shortest list?

    Third question. Let’s say a school has one remaining opening and two children want in. Let’s say student A listed the school as second choice (already passed over for first choice) and student B listed the school as fourth choice (already passed over for first, second, and third choices.) Would student A get in with the rationale that second choice is higher than fourth choice? Or would student B get in with the rationale that student B had already not gotten her first three choices?



    I’m not sure the answer to all your questions but if you are on a waitlist for one school you could go down to John Stanford and talk to them about the waitlists and what number he/she would be if you changed waitlists.



    Skeeter, I’ll give it my best shot!

    #1: I’m not sure if you can take a slot on a school you selected in open enrollment (ie not your neighborhood school) AND then get on a wait list at a different school. I’ve never asked that question. You can only be on one waitlist at a time though, so it seems like you should be able to do that.

    #2: Yes, if you don’t get into any of your choices, then you are automatically enrolled in your neighborhood school. You are then waitlisted at your #1 choice. You can switch waitlists (or you could last year). The district puts out a list of how many students are on the waitlist for each school and each grade level at said school. So you can look at that list after the first round of open enrollment and then take a gamble at switching lists.

    #3: The way I understand it, no one knows which student would get it! I think the way they did open enrollment last year was they go through the tiebreakers first (geo zone, sibs…actually I don’t even know if geo zone is still a factor). Then random id numbers are chosen and they go through all of that student’s choices. So it’s possible for student B to get into their #4 choice and student A doesn’t get into their second choice. That would be if student B’s number is selected first.

    #4: The other thing to consider is whether a school has a high number of students trying to get in. You may have a second choice school that has a lower number of students trying to get in, so that would make it easier for you to get in, but only if you put it as your #1 choice. BUT you really have no way of knowing how many kids will be trying for that school. Sure, you can look at past years waitlists (if you can find them), but you don’t know if your year, 2016, there’s a higher number of sibs going to the school you want than the year before. They would have preference over you. Or there could be more kindergarteners in the neighborhood than the year before. Does all that make sense?

    #5: Once you accept a school offer, you give up your slot at your neighborhood school. Might not be a big deal, but I know of someone who accepted to a school, didn’t like it, but then her neighborhood school was full and she couldn’t get back in. So she had to stick it out at the school she didn’t like.

    I agree that you should call and talk to the director of enrollment. I had a great conversation with him a couple years ago, and he was super patient and willing to walk me through the process. SPS doesn’t do a good job of explaining the intricacies of the way open enrollment works. And they change it. Just know that all this info is based on my experience trying to get into a school the 2014-15 school year. Good luck!



    Thank you ghar72. That was helpful!

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