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Lottery for Penn Alexander kindergarten will go ahead later this month

February 7, 2013

(Editor’s Note: We were not able to attend this meeting between the district and parents at Penn Alexander, but we have received minutes from the meeting that we have corroborated with several people who did attend. Please feel free to write us with additional information at editor – at – westphillylocal.com)

A Philadelphia School District official told a group of parents this morning that a proposed lottery for limited kindergarten spots at the Penn Alexander School will be conducted in late February. That decision follows parent requests that the district find a way to accommodate all the kindergarten students in the school’s catchment.

schools

The announcement follows an inspection of the school by district officials to determine whether more kindergarten space could be added.

“There are no more opportunities for growth in this building,” said Karen Lynch, the district’s chief of student support services. “This building is at capacity. Any further opportunities for growth exist outside this structure.”

Some parents asked for a temporary increase in kindergarten enrollment caps, currently set at 18 per classroom, to accommodate students this year. The district refused. The district will also not offer automatic enrollment to siblings of currently enrolled students, the so-called “sibling preference” that many parents requested.

Lynch announced two important dates for parents:

• The deadline for applications for the computer-run lottery will be at the close of business on Monday, Feb. 11.

• Parents who apply for the lottery can simultaneously apply for a voluntary transfer request to attend another district school (if they are unsuccessful in the lottery) by Feb. 15. Voluntary transfer requests are typically due in November.

Penn Alexander currently has four kindergarten classes with a maximum capacity of 18 students each for a total of 72 spots. Kindergarten spots at Penn Alexander guarantee admission to following grades. Seats in those grades are also capped through an agreement with the University of Pennsylvania, which provides additional funding to the school.

Kindergarten spots are guaranteed for students who have enrolled at PAS through Head Start and students who have special needs documented in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Those students do not have to participate in the lottery.

Lynch told the parents that there are currently 82 students applying for kindergarten spots, including those through Head Start and those with IEPs.

The decision to switch to a lottery was initially made hours after dozens of parents began lining up in front of the school for kindergarten registration, a process which has become sort of a ritual for parents with young children who live in school’s catchment area. This year the line started four days early, prompting Superintendent William Hite to announce that a lottery will determine enrollment in the Fall. The lottery was originally scheduled for April, which left parents little time to make alternative school arrangements.

60 Comments For This Post

  1. Andy L. Says:

    Wow, looks like the scramble continues. For those thinking of listing Lea as a backup choice, here’s a recent update from the West Philly Coalition of Neighborhood Schools:

    Lea Elementary’s Kindergarten Open House has been scheduled for Tuesday March 5th from 9:15-10:15 a.m (4700 Locust Street). There are currently three kindergarten classes at Lea with about 20 students in each. Principal Bell-Chiles is interested in adding a fourth kindergarten class for 2013-2014 if there is enrollment demand for it and the district allows.

  2. 46er Says:

    Would adding a couple kids per class this year really make that much of a difference?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Wait, the school district is re-opening the voluntary transfer process for PAS but has been telling parents of students at closing schools they’re SOL? How is that fair?

  4. Andy L. Says:

    Re 46er: with four classes, 2 kids per class would be 8 kids not turned away. Considering that PAS is artificially smaller classes than other schools that people will potentially get bumped to, it’s worth considering, and it gets much closer to allowing everyone in.

    Kindergarten headcount for the ’12/’13 year is 73 kids between 4 classes per the district site. If Lynch is right that only 82 have applied for next year, 2-3 extra kids per class would accommodate them all, though I expect the number will continue to rise above 82.

    When the school was founded, the original agreement with Penn called for $1,000 per kid up to $700,000. They originally anticipated the need to expand up to around 700 kids. More recently, they changed the equation to $1,330 per kid up to $700,000, which puts us closer to the smaller current enrollment of 550 kids, but it’s clear that parents staying in the neighborhood rather than fleeing to the suburbs as they used to a decade ago is pushing demand closer to that 700 figure.

    As I’ve heard it described, the building was not originally intended to house the kindergarten. The current PIC building was originally expected to be space for expansion.

  5. Ricky Says:

    The transfers are only open to PAS eligible 2013-14 kindergarteners only. No other grades are allowed.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Ricky – What about parents who lose the lottery and need to move an older child out of PAS to get both kids into the same school?

  7. 46th Says:

    Ricky- that is a seriously good question. Because i”m guessing a loto f us will be in that situation.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    A “computer-run lottery” conducted behind closed doors with no witnesses present? After repeated parent requests for transparency and district demands for “equity”, we are all supposed to accept the results of some computer-in-the-sky?

  9. Ricky Says:

    I’m just telling you what they told us. It isn’t fair. It’s not my call. Just some info.

  10. Anonymous II Says:

    A unpublicized (secret?) meeting and then the lottery is held FOUR days later?

    Were the parents that attended the meeting trying to keep other just-as-legitimately entitled catchment parents out of the lottery? “

  11. Anonymous Says:

    “A unpublicized (secret?) meeting and then the lottery is held FOUR days later?
    Were the parents that attended the meeting trying to keep other just-as-legitimately entitled catchment parents out of the lottery? “

    You are kidding, right? Karyn Lynch emailed the information that the lottery would be moved up along with a lot of other information to a parent who was not in the line and who didn’t have a kindergarten-age kid because SHE ASKED. Enough with the conspiracy theories and mistrust already.

  12. anonymous 2 Says:

    Isn’t it a slick move to push the lottery date ahead instead of working out a proper solution how to accommodate all kids? Adding 2-3 kids per class would be feasible, if there was enough “motivation ” (in form of engaged and enraged parents from all prospective kindergarteners) . The early lottery will reduce that number from ” enough to be heard , e.g. by the press ” to the usual dozen parents that had been easy enough to ignore in the last few years
    A very classical way of not solving the problem, but avoiding bad publicity. Who cares about the few others left out once their kid is in?!

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Agreed – very slick move by the SD. Hopefully the parents can hang together and keep fighting anyway.

  14. momom Says:

    They had a meeting on the 7th and announced the deadline is Monday, or was it already known. In NYC everyone who applies for the lottery is given a number and invited to be present when the lottery takes place. It’s done like the powerball drawing. So nothing dishonest can take place.

  15. Arlene Ackerman's pastor Says:

    My pastor’s son is still enrolled and he don’t even live in the area! Rules are for suckers.

  16. Anun Says:

    “Isn’t it a slick move to push the lottery date ahead instead of working out a proper solution how to accommodate all kids?”

    This is one of the things the line parents’ group asked for and has now received. I just hope that, after 7 out of 8 kids are accepted at PAS, they will continue to work toward a solution that allows all kids to attend their neighborhood school. Otherwise this is a battle that parents will begin anew every year.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Arlene Ackerman’s pastor was Kevin Johnson of Bright Hope Baptist in North Philly. Last time it was Jannie Blackwell’s pastor. Are you confused or are you saying Blackwell goes all the way up to North Philly for church?

  18. Happy Curmudgeon Says:

    It’s no secret that there are kids attending PAS who do not live in the catchment. It’s probably no secret that people may finally start to care.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Doesnt really matter whose pastor he is. He lives in Overbrook.

  20. Terrilyn Says:

    One of the things that didn’t get included in the West Philly Local story on yesterday’s meeting were Karen Lynch’s comments on this issue. She said they would be more diligent in ensuring that students outside of the catchment were not attending the school – in both situations where they got in through fraudulent behavior or by exceptions that may have been previously granted. In the future, if parents become aware of students who did not live in catchment she said they should bring to her names of those families for further investigation.

  21. ks Says:

    So, has there been any discussion about what the procedure is for the kids who don’t get in to kindergarten via the lottery? Are they put on a wait list? Is that wait list carried over to first grade?

  22. Terrilyn Says:

    In my opinion, she wasn’t 100% clear on the waitlist process in yesterday’s meeting. She said the computer would generate a numerical list of the children and that would be used. But questions like what that process would look like, is PAS going manage the list or will PSD manage it? will be publicly available info? etc.., I didn’t feel like those things were resolved. She did reference the current practice at PAS of carrying over the waitlist from year to year but did not confirm/deny if that would be used in the future. All that said, I was in the back of the room and it was hard to hear so someone closer to her might have a different view of her comments on this issue.

  23. Editor Says:

    We deleted the last post, which contained the name of a student at Penn Alexander.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Fine but that’s exactly where this ugliness is going. Perhaps WPL should not provide the forum for the innuendo if it doesn’t want to recognize the logical outcome of such.

  25. Also at the meeting Says:

    I agree she wasn’t clear on the process. She seemed to believe that PSD, PAS, and everyone else potentially involved are all completely trustworthy so none of these details are important. There were a lot of comments from parents asking for greater transparency, but in my perception, at least, she didn’t take them very seriously. She did say, though, that she wouldn’t say no to any specific transparency proposal at that time, but would give it all more thought.

    She also said, in response to a parent who was very unhappy about how a lottery with no sibling preferences will change the neighborhood longterm, that just because they’re doing this this year does not mean that the process is set in stone for the future. So anyone who can think of a better way to do this should definitely email it to Lynch, she is still listening.

  26. Also at the meeting Says:

    “Were the parents that attended the meeting trying to keep other just-as-legitimately entitled catchment parents out of the lottery?”

    This sort of comment, suggesting that the parent group is calling the shots in this process, is just completely detached from reality. It is true that parents have asked many times for the deadline to be moved up, for example at the Jan 22 meeting several people suggested a Feb 1 deadline. But the specifics of choosing Feb 11 and announcing it only on Feb 7, not widely publicizing it, etc, that was 100% Lynch. Do you seriously think that these meetings consist of the parents sitting down and telling Lynch how it’s going to be? If so, what evidence do you base this belief on? One piece of evidence against this belief: as Anonymous says above, there is an email being forwarded around that was sent by Lynch to a parent who wanted to know how the first meeting had gone. In this email, sent before the Feb 7 meeting, Lynch was already referring to her decision to move the lottery to Feb 11, as well as noting that she had not announced this decision in the previous parents’ meeting.

    So that’s one piece of evidence that the decision was not made during either parent meeting, and that this parent group was not the first to be told. What is your evidence that the parent group has the power to control anything about this process?

  27. Editor Says:

    District official Karen Lynch told parents that the District is interested in finding students who are “fraudulently enrolled” at PAS. In fact, she told parents to contact her directly. The main number for the district is here: 215-400-4000

  28. Whoa Says:

    Wait, so now we’re all going to participate in a witch hunt? By going after little kids? Editor, that last post is highly questionable. The district’s number is no secret and no one needs WPL to tell it to them. I thought this forum was supposed to encourage dialogue and reason, not people indulging their narc fantasies.

  29. N.O. Says:

    Karen Lynch was clear that students who don’t live in the catchment will not be allowed in the school. She all but begged parents to inform PSD if they know of students who got in under false pretenses or favoritism.

    She did not say that parents could not be present at the lottery but that she didn’t see how it would be useful. Apparently they stick all the childrens’ names into a computer and then they randomly pop out in numerical order. Having someone watch the process, she thought, wouldn’t do much. The one thing parents can do is make sure that nobody from outside the catchment gets in.

    She indicated that all the children would be ranked numerically and at least suggested that that ranking would be used as the waiting list, although she did not actually say that–she was cagey on this point. She stated that if current practice continued then the waiting list would carry over to 1st grade.

    Regarding sibling preference she gave a more definitive answer then I would have liked. She said that allowing sibling preference would not be “equitable.” It’s possible that the policy could change down the road, but I don’t see why the school district would reverse itself unless it came under pressure or the principal pressed for it.

    Twins are treated as individual children. It’s possible for one twin to get in and one not to. This was explained in terms of there not being sibling preference.

    She brought along an expert (can’t remember name) in school space issues. After looking through the building carefully she decided that it is currently at full capacity. This was the rationale for not allowing larger kindergarten classes. She explained that PAS was built with more common spaces–atrium, wide hallway, breakout rooms–then most Phiiladelphia schools. Also the rooms are smaller. Apparently the original plans called for two more rooms but the community shot those down at the time.

    Parents asked why some schools can be at 120 or 130% capacity but PAS can’t go a single student above 100%. Hyte said that schools only go over capacity when there is no other option, and it is the responsibility of PSD to redraw catchment boundaries when there is a systematic issue. This didn’t make much sense to me. The schools that are over capacity are in that situation because there “is no other choice?” One would think that they have the same choice that we are being given–go away; find another school. Plausibly, however, Hyte said that she would not intentionally put PAS in that situation.

    The unspoken subtext may be that PAS catchment boundaries could be changed if it is determined that this will be a constant issue. They as much as said that it is the job of PSD to redraw boundaries when there are consistently more student than can fit in the school living in the area.

    The specter of Penn comes up here for me. Raising class caps would have to be done in conjunction with Penn and would probably require Penn to put up more money. It is clear that Penn has a lot of influence on what PSD does,

    I was one of the parents who was complaining about no information being available and being left in the dark. I didn’t like it one bit. I found out about this meeting because someone notified the school notebook and West Philly Local the day before and I was following those forums closely. Consequently I was able to attend. I felt that there weren’t any parents there who wanted the meeting to be secret. Everyone was shocked by the immediate deadlines and lottery. On the other hand, the meeting was hardly publicized. I’m not sure why. Someone couldn’t have posted a sign at the drop off of PAS and other strategic locations a couple of days in advance?

    One interesting thing that I noticed was the dynamics. Karen Hyte was clearly in charge. The parents could ask questions but didn’t really have a chance to push for any outcomes. Hyte came in, laid out what was going to be done and what wasn’t going to be done, and took questions. From the beginning it was clear that she was in charge. Furthermore, PSD is going to do what it wants to do for reasons of “policy” and isn’t too concerned about what parents think.

    Several parents pushed back on the decision to not raise the number of students in each room using several pretty good arguments, but Hyte reiterated over and over again that there is no chance that the caps will be raised enough to allow 82 students in. Likewise, she didn’t even mention the petition for sibling preference that was going around and presumably delivered to PSD.

    Regarding extra spaces, the Head Start program is probably going to leave its current facility because of financial cuts, but it will be replaced by an independently run pre-K program for at-risk students, so that space will not become available. The space in PIC that is available is not an option for the school district because it would involve a lease and a transfer of funds, and PSD is willing to do neither. It sounded like even if the space was available for free the school district would not accept it if it involved a contract and contractual requirements.

    Hyte did not for one second accept the argument that parents on the line were in a special situation because PSD acted improperly by changing the registration policy at the last minute. The School District demonstrated an understanding of the hardship of these parents by moving the lottery date up and providing more time for filing voluntary transfer requests. I have nothing to say about the condensed time line which is obviously absurd.

    One thing I don’t understand about the process is why the Spruce Hill Community Associaton or some other group didn’t hold a meeting early on in the process that included representatives from at least PSD and Penn and perhaps local principals, advertise the meeting well, get a really good turn out, and demonstrate that this community has overwhelming support for public education but also will hold institutions responsible for their decisions. Center City would have pulled it off. Parents do have cards to play. For instance, I had no problem with Penn’s plans for an apartment tower tat 40th and Pine, but now I just see it as a breeding ground for children of graduate students who will take up spaces at PAS. As a community we could make it difficult for Penn to build anything that would increase the population of University City.

    I don’t mean to criticize. I’ve only been in the neighborhood for two years and haven’t tried to get involved in SHCA or much of anything else–I have twin one year olds. But the way this all fell out doesn’t feel as though it was productive. Perhaps there was no way it could have been given the circumstances.

    The biggest posiitive of the meeting was the number of people who showed enthusiasm for building up Lea as an alternative for PAS.

  30. Anonymouse Says:

    N.O. –

    Thanks for your breakdown…

    I am startled to hear your comments about Lynch being clear that 82 kids was never going to happen…I have been hearing just the opposite through the grapevine…that small expansion of the kindergarten class sizes might still be a viable option. Can anyone else chime in on this?

    Also, was there any real talk by Lynch about redrawing the catchment? I know I am going to catch a lot of heat for this, but re-drawing the catchment seems like the option that no one wants to talk about. But, a school should serve its entire catchment. Lotteries are not a reasonable or fair long-term solution.

    That being said, I think PAS can and should serve its entire catchment as it is drawn now. I think there is space (at PIC, the headstart, other locations) and there is money (from Penn and the school district)…These stakeholders should continued to be called upon to meet their obligations….For example, it seems like Lynch acknowledged that leasing space at PIC or the headstart building is technically an option but that the school district is choosing not to do that.

    And if Lea is to be considered as the natural path of expansion for PAS then those same stakeholders should show some committment there too – let’s see some financial and resource investment. Clearly there is committment to Lea on the part of the community (WPCNS for example) and now those who will be left out of PAS are being called upon to shift their focus/commitment to Lea. Shouldn’t we be seeking concrete commitments from those who actually wield the money and the power?

    Thoughts?

  31. 45k Says:

    Refusing sibling preference is classic SDP central planning idiocy. No regards for common sense. No regards for the parents or kids.

    I have two young kids (none enrolled). Thinking of what to do in a couple years. Without preference, I will need to win the lottery twice or have the completely unworkable situation of transporting them to different schools, involve in different PTA’s. Or moving my oldest when his brother doesn’t get in?

    Am I supposed to benefit from a lack of sibling preference? This is an unthinking definition of “fairness” that effectively gives preference to people with 1 kid.

    Maybe that’s SDP’s goal- solve the enrollment problem by making the school less attractive. I really don’t want to, but probably should just move to the suburbs rather than deal with this stupidity.

  32. Albion Says:

    “I had no problem with Penn’s plans for an apartment tower at 40th and Pine, but now I just see it as a breeding ground for children of graduate students who will take up spaces at PAS.”

    See, this is yet another example of how many PAS catchment parents come off as assholish even in the midst of making constructive comments.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    For those requesting the school district expend more money on PAS, it may be helpful to familiarize yourselves first with the district’s five-year financial plan projecting a more than $1 billion shortfall: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/3u/ZP/3uZPqeW-a_LS7Bgu0FL60Q/SDPFYP.pdf

  34. Anonymous Says:

    And not to mention the completely backassward thinking of opposing development in University City to maintain the catchment of PAS. Do you not realize the school district is the single largest funder of PAS? 85% of PAS’s budget comes from the school district which gets a lot of its money from local property taxes. If jacking up the property tax rate is unpalatable, then people should be encouraging MORE development so there are MORE properties sending money to the city and the school district, not fewer.

  35. Whoa Says:

    N.O., going after “fraudulently enrolled” kids, if they actually exist, would do nothing to resolve the problem at hand, which is over-subscription at the kindergarten level. The two issues are completely and utterly unrelated. It’s a red herring to make you feel like the district is doing something. PAS parents have been claiming their demands are all about maintaining a school community, but I can imagine nothing more disruptive and vindictive than trying to toss out already enrolled students who are not contributing in any way to the kindergarten problem. Just because Lynch said it doesn’t mean you have to do it.

  36. LOL Says:

    I am ready to shoot the pilot for “Real Housewives of University City” with selfishness, slap downs and back stabbings that make the Beverly Hills crowd look rather tame. Perhaps the profits can go towards new books for the Lea School.

  37. Anun Says:

    Speaking of “Real Housewives…” Whatever happened to the film makers who were doing a documentary on PAS registration this year? If they’ve been rolling they could be headed to Sundance next year.

  38. N.O. Says:

    Anonymouse, I’m going by memory, but my understanding from Karen Lynch was that there was a possibility that, based on how many students actually decide to go to PAS, there could be some flexibility. However, I also recall fairly clearly that she said 82 was not going to happen. Lynch was watching her words carefully and tried to avoid definitive statements not laid down as policy. It was because Lynch made it clear that not everyone registered was going to get in that parents were pushing back on that very point. I would be happy if other people at the meeting did chime in to say that I was wrong.

    She did NOT say anything about the catchment boundaries being redrawn. What she said was that it was the job of the School District to redraw boundaries in cases like this, where there are consistently more students than spots. I don’t know exactly what to read into that, if anything, but it is suggestive.

    Albion, you are right and I apologize for reflecting poorly on the community as well as for writing inappropriately about graduate students. I was one myself for six years. My assholish comments shouldn’t be generalized to the community. They were mine alone.

    Whoa, I’m not going to turn anybody in. I’m just reporting what was said. On the other hand, if I didn’t get in through the kindergarten lottery and I knew that someone who did get in to kindergarten lived out of the catchment then I would certainly insist that the student be placed at another school. I think I agree that kicking out students in higher grades wouldn’t be helpful.

    Anonymous, I’ve accepted that I made an assholish comment, but I don’t think that it was assbackward (such language in these posts!). One of the ways that a community can exert itself to produce a change is by using its power to affect development. That is part of the reason why the old Durham school became Independence Charter rather than a condo.
    But I don’t actually oppose anything in particular. I enjoy seeing development in the area. I just meant to raise the issue in general.

    Best,
    Nick

  39. Whoa Says:

    N.O., that was a really nice and thoughtful response to everyone.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    I disagree about out of catchment kids in upper grades. I know of new families to the neighborhood who cannot get their upper grade kids into PAS. Also, know of a family who lost sale on their house because incoming family called school and found their would be no room for kids at PAS and so they withdrew offer.

    Regarding Penn adding grad student housing within the catchment: do they think their grad students with families will want to gamble on their kids education either? More false promises from Penn to lure in new faculty and students….

  41. Anonymous Says:

    These are not rumors or urban myths – I know the families, not just of the families.

  42. Terrilyn Says:

    Just to clarify on terminology at PAS, the lower school grades are K-5 and the upper school grades are 6-8. Spots open up at PAS in the 5th grade when families happily leave their neighborhood school to send their kids across town to Masterman. I’m pretty sure the family that anonymous references are my neighbors who were unable to get their 4th grader into PAS this year.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, one of the families was for fourth grade. The other was for first grade. As this news gets out, it will be a problem. Why would you move in just to gamble? You would move somewhere where you know what you are getting, esp. if you have more than one kid.

  44. Line parent Says:

    “On the other hand, the meeting was hardly publicized. I’m not sure why. Someone couldn’t have posted a sign at the drop off of PAS and other strategic locations a couple of days in advance?”

    Maybe the SD could have. The parents could not. The SD sent the meeting notice at 2:52 the day before. Again, conspiracy theorists: the SD is in charge, not the line parents.

  45. Anonymous Says:

    Nick, Independence Charter came about during the bad old zoning code where community groups and local politicians -and you can imagine who really profited from the set up- wielded near extortionist power. The city just spent millions of dollars and several years revising the code to cut a lot of those opportunities for shenanigans out.

    Your suggestion that community members oppose development and hurt not only the larger University City neighborhood but also school district funding city-wide was, and I will use a nicer phrase since you are apparently sensitive, really gross.

  46. Ace Says:

    I see two issues with redrawing the catchment: 1) families would continue to seek out “in catchment” homes, driving up the student population within the new, smaller catchment area (in other words, it would just perpetuate the problem) and 2) it would reduce the real estate value of those unfortunately cut out (ie, they would take one for the team without a choice in the matter). A reduction in the desirability PAS by having potential buyers know that there could be a lottery may eventually quell the overcrowding issue, and may help to shift focus to neighboring schools (Lea).

  47. Also at the meeting Says:

    I had a different perception than N.O. about Lynch’s statement about enrolling students past the cap of 72. It seemed to me that she was indicating they would add a few seats, but she didn’t want to make a decision on how many until she saw how many applications come in by Monday. She absolutely refused to be drawn on how many seats were possible, but she definitely implied that there was a chance that more would be added.

    There was also an exchange where someone asked whether, in the case where 82 was the final number of applications, it was possible that the lottery would just be cancelled and everyone let in. She responded extremely emphatically “There is going to be a lottery.” I guess D.O. interpreted that to mean that 82 is definitely too many. My interpretation was that the parent in the exchange was looking to avoid setting the precedent of holding lotteries, and she had no interest in going along with that. That’s just a guess though, she might have meant anything.

    Nothing was explicitly said about redrawing the cachement. It kind of seemed at one point, when she was answering the question about why some schools can be at 120% or 130% capacity but we can’t, that she was about to talk about redrawing boundaries. She said that they only allow over capacity like that in situations like the North East where there is a cluster of schools that are all over capacity. But someone cut in with a follow up question, and she never got back to finishing her thought. She never said or even implied that redrawing the boundaries is something that they’re thinking about in our case right now.

  48. Also at the meeting Says:

    As to why the meeting wasn’t publicized: At the first meeting with Hite, Lynch ended by asking us to pick 10 parent representatives for a series of closed door meetings with her. She didn’t realize at the time that this wasn’t really logistically possible. Even the parents on the email list aren’t organized enough to put together an election among ourselves, and of course there is no way at all of getting in touch with people who aren’t on the email list. So in the end the meetings basically ended up being attended by everyone who heard about the meeting either through the email list or some other way and felt like going, about 20-25 people, not all of whom had kindergarten age kids.

    Lynch commented at this last meeting that there were far more than 10 people there, and that she doubted we formed a representative cross section of the affected community. So the 10 representative plan is scrapped, and future meetings will be open door.

  49. Billy Says:

    “For instance, I had no problem with Penn’s plans for an apartment tower tat 40th and Pine, but now I just see it as a breeding ground for children of graduate students who will take up spaces at PAS. As a community we could make it difficult for Penn to build anything that would increase the population of University City.”

    Wait, isn’t Penn’s financial contribution to PENN Alexander School the reason the school is so desirable in the first place? Wouldn’t the school simply be funded akin to Lea or any other public school otherwise?

    So graduate students of Penn shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of a school funded partially by Penn?

    http://dobrador.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/194077065162202033_qYOR0s3H_f.jpg

  50. Anonymous Says:

    “So graduate students of Penn shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of a school funded partially by Penn?”

    Of course they should get to enter the lottery just like the rest of us. That’s quite an enticement to pursue your graduate work at Penn.

  51. ANON Says:

    I was in the office this morning and over heard and saw them counting what I can assume were the applications for Kindergarten, they only had 76. I can’t believe they can’t add 1 more kid to each class and let everyone in!

  52. anonymous Says:

    Billy,

    It is no longer Penn’s money that makes PAS so “desirable”. These kids enter kindergarten already reading; I hardly think the extra dollars from Penn are the reason for high test scores. It is the community that is desirable, one where families come together to help each other with the balancing act of working and safely raising their children.

    This is not to undermine the fact that Penn’s support promoted the development of this community, but to suggest that most of the desperation surrounding getting kids into PAS comes from parents with a child already there or families who have lived in the catchment for many years.

  53. Ace Says:

    Per an email I received, which was sent on behalf of Karyn Lynch:
    Here’s the applicant count down:
    4 – Early Intervention students
    8 – Head Start students
    77 – Other applicants
    (PS- the sign up info for these emails was already posted somewhere on WPL, which is how I learned about it)

  54. Anonymous Says:

    Kindergarten-eligible parents sent a letter to Superintendent Hite last night asking again that all 89 registered children be admitted to PAS for this year and then to continue engaging with the community on long-term solutions.

    It is posted here: http://groups.google.com/group/PAS-Neighborhood-Info?hl=en . The group is open for all to join.

  55. ANON Says:

    I seriously don’t understand the head start thing, can someone please explain it? Do they stay in PAS or only for Kinder? If it’s Kindergarten what is the point exactly?

  56. anon Says:

    My understanding is that HeadStart kids in the catchment are guaranteed a spot in Kindergarten. They will continue to first grade and do not have to participate in the lottery or wait in line to register, as in previous years.

  57. anonymous Says:

    “These kids enter kindergarten already reading; I hardly think the extra dollars from Penn are the reason for high test scores. It is the community that is desirable” Don’t be fooled – it is the parents that make PAS the great school that it is

  58. MP Says:

    Great! If it’s the community and kids and parents that make PAS so great, we can take the Penn subsidy and professional development and transfer it to Lea.

  59. Ricky Says:

    I’m not sure why many are holding the parents at PAS responsible for the success of Lea? Does Lea not have parents? While I’m sure there are many involved parents there. Clearly they need more involvement. If every parent at Lea was invested the school would become better. Schools sometimes fail children. But more often parents fail their children. Many of us PAS parents are willing to help with Lea. But put the responsibility on those parents who actually have children there and stop blaming us parents for doing our best and supporting our school. There’s no shame in wanting good/safe education for our children. The shame is that throughout the city this is not the case.

  60. AN Says:

    I would like to say that I support the right of every child in our community to access good, safe public education. Regardless of whether a child has parents with resources, parents who are involved, parents who were able to find and afford a home on the 4500 block of Locust instead of the 4600 block, or neighbors who are willing and able to shoulder the challenges of child-rearing together, that child deserves a quality education in our city.

    Each of us will reap the benefits of a well-educated, community-minded generation who saw their community pull together to support children across catchment boundaries. We all profit when our children are shown the path to rise above, to share resources, to understand that the world and our place in it is larger than what stands directly in front of us.

    Every comment I’ve seen here reflects passion. I wonder if it is possible to direct all of this passion toward sustainable solutions and productive dialogue to achieve our common goal.








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