Penn updates, PAS Kindergarten registration report on agenda at tonight’s Spruce Hill Community Association Board meeting

March 13, 2018

Residents are invited to the monthly Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) Board meeting tonight at the SHCA center at 257 S. 45th St, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Representatives from Penn will be at the meeting to provide updates on current events and plans, including Glenn Bryan, Assistant Vice President of Community Relations, Ed Datz, Executive Director of Real Estate, and Maureen Rush, Vice President for Public Safety and Superintendent of the Penn Police department.

Regular committee updates and May Fair planning are also on the agenda. 

The SHCA’s education committee will provide a report on Penn Alexander School kindergarten registration for the 2018-2019 school year. The highly ranked public K-8 school uses lottery system for kindergarten registration due to an overwhelming number of applicants each year. The lottery system was introduced in 2013.

Penn Alexander’s principal, Michael Farrell, has told the SHCA that the school received 93 completed registration packets this year from families residing in the PAS catchment area, and 79 students were accepted based on the availability of the spots. Last year, 86 registration packets were received, and 80 students were accepted. As a reminder, last year, the school increased all four Kindergarten classes from 18 to 20 students per class to be able to accept more students.

Children who are not accepted to PAS Kindergarten are usually placed on the waitlist and assigned to another neighborhood school, Lea Elementary.

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Schools question Says:

    PAS isn’t the only school in the district with a lottery. Meredith, in Queen Village, also has a lottery for Kindergarten. Last year, the parents in the Meredith catchment tried to lobby the school district for a change in the lottery system, asking them to institute sibling preference in order to keep families together. Most large school systems do this, as they believe it to be more equitable, eg NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC, and the entire UK. Some school systems also weigh lotteries to include factors like income. I can’t make it to the meeting tonight, but curious:
    -Why did the Phila School District decide on a different system?
    -What does the community believe is most equitable?
    -Will PAS continue to accept all students in the catchment in first grade?

  2. PAS Admissions Veteran Says:

    I had a kid entering kindergarten in 2013, so I was around for the sibling preference decision. Karyn Lynch, the school district official who made the decision, did solicit opinions from PAS parents before she decided. There was no consensus community opinion, so she went with what seemed fairer to her.

    One knock against sibling preferences was that a family who was unlucky enough to draw a number on the bottom of the waiting list for their first child, might still be stuck on the waiting list when their second child was kindergarten age. So now all the younger siblings of the lucky kids who won the first lottery get priority, and that same unlucky family is on the bottom of the waiting list again for the second kid. It was argued that it was fairer to have more families with one kid in the school and one kid out, than some families with all kids in and other families with all kids out.

    It was also argued that sibling preferences are unfair to only children. Not only would a younger sibling of an admitted student benefit, an older sibling could be pulled off the waiting list if their younger sibling got a good lottery draw. The only child gets bumped down the list from both directions.

    The equities can get complicated, as you can see. What you’d really want to know, I think, is how fast does the waiting list move. If everyone gets in after a year or at most two, the above scenarios wouldn’t come up very often. Also you’d want to know, do people really hang around with one kid in and one kid out, or do they find some other school that will take both.

    As for your last question, are you sure that PAS accepts all catchment students for first grade? My memory is they stopped doing that back in 2010 or so. Has there been another change in policy?

  3. john Says:

    I heard that Lea is no longer accepting children out of the catchment. Is that true? This was from a Lea grandparent outside of Lea’s catchment at Lea’s playground.

  4. Grace O'Donnell Says:

    In HS, I was informed that the kids who got pulled off the waiting list were only the kids who had picked the HS for their first choice. I won’t name the HS, but my kid picked it as his 3rd choice, and he was pulled off the waiting list. In the case of the Penn Alexander, the prior principle went so far as to send personal letters of invitation to top achievers who lived within 1 block of the catchment area. (not necessarily inside of it). I saw 1 of these letters. She invited kids with top test scores. I can not speak to the current principle. To get off the waiting list sooner, make sure your kid is a top achiever. Also, it can’t hurt if you start making donations to the HSA, School Musical, and Fundraisers for Art’s and Science now. I am sorry for the obvious offense that you are likely to take from this post, but it is what it is T.I.P. (This is Philadelphia).

  5. Philly Acey Says:

    I am doubtful that donating to PAS helps with the admissions because my family has been generous and has a history of volunteering at PAS but nonetheless child #2 was not admitted in this year’s kindergarten lottery.

  6. PAS Admissions Veteran Says:


    Was the principal inviting out of catchment kids for kindergarten, though, or the upper grades? The latter wouldn’t be so bad since there is lots of extra room in those grades. Kids applying for kindergarten wouldn’t have scores in the system, anyway.

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