Last-minute open enrollment tactics

03/20/2013 12:00 AM

03/22/2013 2:27 PM

Sara Noguchi, area assistant superintendent at the Sacramento City Unified School District, joined The Bee for a live chat Tuesday and offered last-minute guidance on open enrollment.

The deadline is today at 5 p.m. for elementary school students. Applications are available on the district's website, The district has seen a rise in applications this year after it agreed to close seven elementary schools this summer.

Here's a sampling of questions parents asked and some of Noguchi's answers:

>"Tracy" wrote that she has a student at Mark Hopkins Elementary (soon to be closed) and she's hoping that the adjacent Rosa Parks Intermediate campus will become a K-8 school. If that doesn't happen, she asked, how can she guarantee her child a spot in a new school?

Noguchi encouraged Tracy to open enroll into the school she would prefer her child to attend should the Rosa Parks K-8 conversion not be approved. There are no guarantees, Noguchi said, because open enrollment is based on available seats.

If trustees approve the Rosa Parks conversion, Noguchi said, Tracy's child will have the option to attend Rosa Parks, regardless of open enrolling elsewhere.

"Amy" asked how many displaced families are requesting non-neighborhood schools like Leonardo da Vinci, Alice Birney Waldorf-Inspired K-8 and Phoebe Hearst?

Noguchi said the district will not have that information until after the enrollment period ends Wednesday. Families in the seven closure areas have priority this year in open enrollment, but Noguchi emphasized that only applies to grades one to six, not kindergarten. "One thing to remember is that the school closures do not dramatically impact priority for incoming kindergartners, as those students are not directly displaced," she said.

"Lisa" asked what is being done to increase capacity at the schools that are highly desirable, such as Phoebe Hearst or Leonardo da Vinci. Will more classes be added?

Noguchi answered that the district is seeking to expand or replicate quality programs. At Phoebe Hearst, the district added three kindergarten classes last fall after the high-scoring school previously served grades one to six. The district also created a new "integrated thematic instruction" program (similar to Leonardo da Vinci) at O.W. Erlewine Elementary. Similarly, the district has a new Waldorf-inspired program at A.M. Winn based on the popularity of Alice Birney.

Bee Education Editor Kevin Yamamura asked: Should parents list only a first-choice school during open enrollment or, in the alternative, two desired schools? Is there an advantage one way or the other?

Noguchi answered that she would recommend skipping a second option only if parents want their child to be on a wait list at a first-choice school rather than receiving the second choice.

For example, Noguchi wrote, if a parent lists only school A and the student doesn't get the spot, the child will be placed on the school A wait list. But if a parent chooses both A and B, there's a chance of getting into school B but not on school A's wait list.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073. Follow her on Twitter @LorettaSacBee. Read her Report Card blog at

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