A Tale of Two Schools

Big is officially enrolled in our Neighborhood School to start Kindergarten in the Fall!

There is just one little problem with this… Every time I drive past Neighborhood School, my heart sinks.

Strike #1: The school grounds. The playground is dinky and often sports graffiti. The grounds seem dingy and unkept. There is always trash littered around the playground area and the water fountains only spout off a small trickle Ummm…hello. When you were thirsty as a kid, you didn’t care what you had to do to get some agua, including encompassing the spout with your whole mouth. Don’t try to pretend like you never did it. As a parent, this act gives me the heebie jeebies, and though I’m Type-A, I’m not a germaphobe. But seriously. Gross.

I’m totally judging a school by it’s cover. I’ve never been in one of the classrooms. I’ve never spoken to any of the teachers, except to thank them for their time when Big went through the Kinder assessment (what a joke that is, BTW).

Strike #2: The Left Hand Doesn’t Know what the Right Hand is Doing. Registration Day, I head out with Big and Middle in tow and Little in-utero. I’m there, as per usual, before the doors open, so I can be in and out. I don’t pack much of a snack for the kids, since I have almost all (see Strike #3) of my paperwork ready to go and I’ve heard it’s a pretty easy process. They open the doors a few minutes before they are actually ready to help people. When I walk in, I approach the two ladies behind the table. They tell me they are the Parent Committee (ie PTA) and not the registration people. They tell me to have a seat since they aren’t ready to help folks. I do.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m now getting antsy, as are my kids, because it doesn’t appear to be starting. I’m watching the table, and while there are occasional conversations, nothing looks official. Turns out, those occasional conversations are people signing their names to a list. For registration. At the other end of the table. Hellloooooo, PTA ladies… you couldn’t have pointed in their direction when I was the second one in the room?? Now I am at the back of the pack, no snacks, no water, two cranky kids, and a *very* testy pregnant lady. There are a good 15 people in front of me. Awesome. TWO HOURS later, we’re finally on our way home.

Strike #3: Disorganization. A Type-A’s worst nightmare. When I registered Big for school, I had all the paperwork except for her immunization report because we already had an appointment with the pediatrician for Middle’s 18 month check up but it wasn’t until the following week. I was told I could just bring in to the office at a later date. Like any diligent parent would, I took the report to the office the next week, had it photocopied, and bid the office lady adieu. Two months later, I get a letter from the school that says Big can’t be enrolled until they have her immunization report. *sigh*

I’ve had the second immunization report in my car for months now and I just can’t seem to bring myself to drop it off. Again.

So, that’s Neighborhood School.

Then there is the Back-to-Basics school. (I swear, angels sing and the sun shines brighter when I say that.)

The B2B school holds high academic expectations, parent involvement, and responsible student behavior. Hmmm… sounds suspiciously like what we strive to do at home!

The B2B school has a long wait list (sometimes 2 years, depending on how many siblings enroll for Kinder, since they get first priority), but I’ve got to say. They’ve got their act together! You are allowed to drop off your wait list application between 1:30 and 3:00pm on one day each week. The process, though strict in it’s time availability, is completely painless, as they know how to get people on their way. You sign a contract stating you understand what is expected of you, your family, and your student, and that, should you not adhere to the rules, you will be asked to attend another program.

When I dropped off the application today, I got my first glimpse of the grounds. Clean. Cute murals in the hallways. No obvious trash nor graffiti. Beautiful spring flowers blooming and the grass had more actual blades of grass growing than dandelions or those little white weedy flowers. The yellow line that kids are supposed to walk on while in the halls is still visible, even after a year of being trodden on by grammar school kids! I knew in my heart that this was a good place for my kid to learn.

The Neighborhood School website leaves *much* to be desired and doesn’t appear to have been updated at all in the past year, but the B2B website is thorough, updated, and appealing to look at. Silly to be so drawn to a website as a “win” for a school, but in an age where computers are so prevalent, I want to pop onto my kid’s school’s website to check for important reminders and announcements, or the cafeteria’s menu for the month. (On a related note: when did schools start serving breakfast too? Can you say AWESOME?)

Since I only just got Big on the wait list today for the B2B school, chances are that she won’t be admitted for Kinder. Luckily, her wait list status gets rolled over to the next year, so attending for 1st grade has a much better outlook. I had considered putting her on the wait list when she turned 3, as per their rules, but I put it off and put it off and put it off until it was too late. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop kicking myself for not going with my gut on this one.

I’m sending some special prayers to God to put us in the right school for our family, and that, should we have the chance to transfer schools next year, that Big will make the adjustment well.

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2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Schools

    • In the interest of our privacy, I’m not comfortable sharing the name of our schools. But best of luck finding a school that fits your family! It’s a hard choice to make!

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