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At its meeting on Tuesday night, the San Francisco Board of Education approved the design for new attendance areas for elementary schools and extended the implementation of elementary-to-middle school feeder patterns until the 2012-2013 school year. Mission Loc@l talked to Jill Wynns, a school board commissioner, about the system. Here is what you need to know.

The New System

The elementary school assignment system will change slightly in 2011. It will still be a choice-based system, but everyone will be given priority at the school in their attendance area.

If you list your attendance-area school as your first choice and seats are available, you will get in. If there are still more seats than there are requests at a school, anyone, no matter where they live, can get in.

If there are not enough seats in your attendance area, a series of “tie-breakers” will kick in which includes attendance area boundaries. You can also opt out of your attendance-area school and apply at a school outside of your area. If you opt out, you will compete for spots against parents who live in the attendance area.

Schools in southeast San Francisco, which includes the Mission, have more children than seats, while schools on the west side of town have more seats than children. Continuing the choice system brings balance to the process, Wynns said.

“Choice has worked for us because people want to go to the west side because there are more seats there.”

Parents who opt out of sending their child to an attendance-area school because of the limited number of seats lose their preferential standing.

Important Change

For those who live in what is called a CTIP1 area — an area that has been classified as having low-performing schools — preference kicks back in.

Parents who live in a CTIP1 area and want to send their children to a school outside of their attendance area are given preference over parents of children in that attendance area.

Transportation has yet to be resolved. At present, if your child is selected to attend a school outside your attendance area because you live in a CTIP1 area, transportation is up to you.

“The transportation policy will have a big effect on access,” Wynns said.

Things to Remember

The elementary-to-middle school feeder patterns will not begin until the 2012-2013 school year. Students who will attend middle school next year will not be assigned to a school, as they will starting in 2012-2013, and parents must apply for placement as usual. Preference will be given to students moving from the fifth- to sixth-grade levels in the following order:

1. Younger siblings of students who are enrolled in and will be attending the school during the year for which the younger sibling requests attendance.

2. Students who reside in CTIP1 areas.

3. All other students.

If your child is not given preference at your first-choice school, he or she will be assigned to the middle school closest to your home that has available seats.

Patricia Espinosa

Patty Espinosa, from the border town of Mission, Texas, feels at home with the Mission's Latino culture, humming along to the mariachi songs playing during her lunch break. Hearing workers at a taqueria...

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