Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kindergarten Placement Follow-Up Information

This year, the Melrose Public Schools received an unprecedented number of Kindergarten registrations, 312 students to-date, well over the 276 students enrolled in the 2014-2015 class. (More info on that here: http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=01780000&orgtypecode=5&.) In the past, 95% or more students received their first school choice, but this year that was not the case and administrators are working very hard to address this happy challenge. On Wednesday, May 5th, Supt. Taymore crafted and sent a letter to families whose children have been placed on the wait list for admission to Kindergarten in a school other than their first-choice school. This information may also provide insight to families who received their first choice school. Her highlights are as follows:

-       Melrose does not draw school district boundaries nor designate neutral zones and has not done so in ten+ years (since the closing of Ripley and Beebe) in an effort to balance class sizes.
-       There is no mathematical formula for ranking or weighting placement criteria. The top priority is English Language and Special Education programming.
-       After the special programs, siblings have a priority but it’s important that families register on time.
-       92.2% of parents registered on-time; siblings made up 38.2% of the population; and 6.5% of students needed special placements.
-       There are 25 students in each general education classroom except Roosevelt, which has 23. Each integrated classroom is at its cap of 18 students.
-       Of the 38 families who didn’t receive their first choice, all but one received their second choice, and families on the wait list for their first choice school will be placed there before any new registrants.
-       The wait list is by school, and families will be contacted as openings occur.
-       Wait list placements will be begin to be revisited in mid-May.
-       For families that incur a hardship based on their school assignment, an appeals process is available.
-       There are usually additional registrants prior to September and a 15th K class will be opened (at Lincoln) as needed.
-       A team of administrators (not a computer program or one person) makes the placements and they evaluate every student’s needs and every family’s choice to the very best of their ability.
-     Due to laws around student confidentiality details of placements are not public, so administrators can't respond to information a family may hear from a friend or neighbor to address a specific placement. Comparing year-over-year first choice placement percentages is difficult since there is a different set of circumstances every year, e.g. some schools are requested more often in some years (so a fewer number might receive first choice there). In order to give most students their 1st or 2nd choice, sometimes more families will receive 2nd choice so that all receive some choice. Committee policies are always followed.

The full letter can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/mvsy2rv and it is posted with the relevant School Committee policy as well as a copy of district procedures. Should you have questions regarding any of this information, please contact Supt. Taymore’s office at ctaymore@melroseschools.com or 781.662.2000.