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Frequently Asked Questions

Age Requirements

What are the age requirements for the 2016-17 school year?

California law now requires that a child must be five years old on or before September 1, 2016 to be legally eligible for Kindergarten and six years old on or before September 1, 2016 to be legally eligible for first grade.

Students who will have their fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2, 2016 are eligible for a Transitional Kindergarten program for the 2016-2017 school year. Transitional Kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

Note: If you sign and submit the enrollment application, and your child meets the age eligibility for Transitional Kindergarten, your child will be enrolled in a Transitional K program for the 2016-17 school year and will be required to apply for a Kindergarten assignment for the 2017-18 school year by submitting an application available in October 2016.

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) in SFUSD

My child turns 5 years old between September 2nd and December 2nd, 2016. What options do I have?

Parents must decide which environment is appropriate for their child. There are 2 options:

  1. Parents may enroll in a District PreK program (or, if already enrolled in PreK, children may stay in PreK an additional year). Subsidies or tuition for PreK still apply. These families are opting out of Transitional Kindergarten (TK). OR
  2. Parents may enroll their child in a SFUSD Transitional Kindergarten program.

What does a high quality TK environment look like?

TK sets the stage for learning through inquiry, exploration, and problem solving while introducing children to grade-level content standards. The teacher and peers nurture language development through interactions and conversation. The environment promotes independence, social emotional skills, and self-regulation that are essential for a successful entry into Kindergarten.

What are the TK teacher qualifications? What is the teacher-to-child ratio in TK?

TK is taught by a multiple subject credentialed teacher (elementary school credential). The Early Education Department provides support for the TK teacher through ongoing Professional Development and Coaching.

Just as in a SFUSD Kindergarten classroom, the credentialed teacher is the only adult required in a TK classroom, resulting in a possible 1:22 teacher to student ratio.

Is there a snack and lunch for TK students?

Lunch is offered at district schools. If you want your child to participate in the meal program, please complete the meal application form or go to SFUSD's “Nutrition & School Meals” section.

If there are more requests than spaces available at a given school, what are the TK program tiebreakers?

Please see the description of the TK program tie-breakers on the "Apply for Transitional Kindergarten" page. 

What are my options if my TK age child has special needs?

Families should identify their child’s special need(s) on the SFUSD General Enrollment Application Form and attach formal documentation. Individual considerations will be made for these children.

Twins and Multiples

If placement into the same school is desired for twins, triplets and multiples, each application should indicate the same school choices in the same order.

The parent/guardian must indicate on the enrollment application check box that they wish to have their twins or multiples placed in the same school. When one twin is assigned to a choice school, the student assignment process will seek to place the other twin into the same school if space is available. If an assignment cannot be offered to one of the requested schools, then the twins will be assigned together into the school closest to home with openings as space allows.

If you choose ‘No’ on the check box, then twins, triplets or multiples will go into the assignment process as individual students. In the event that multiples are separated in the assignment process, a sibling tie-breaker will be assigned to the sibling requesting placement into the other sibling’s school for any subsequent placement period.

What happens if I check the “Yes” box on the enrollment application to have my twins assigned together?

If you check the “yes” box, indicating that you want your twins to be assigned together, then the student assignment process will treat them initially as individual students in the computerized process. Once one twin receives a tentative assignment, the other twin will be linked with the sibling and the process will seek to assign the sibling to the school if space allows. If there is no space for the second twin, then neither twin will be assigned. If neither twin receives an assignment to any choice school, then both twins will be assigned to the school closest to home with two openings.

What happens if I don’t check the “Yes” box on the enrollment application to have my twins assigned together?

If you do not check the “yes” box indicating that you want your twins assigned together, they will go into the assignment process as individual students for the entire process. There will be a possibility that they may be separated in this process.

What are my options if the twins are separated?

The parent may submit an amended application form for the May or August Placement Periods for one twin to join the other. The twin will receive a sibling priority in the assignment process to join their sibling for any future openings. The assignment of a sibling is a higher priority after appeals, but can only be offered if there are openings at the school and program. There cannot be a guarantee that there will be openings to accommodate siblings.

I want my twins assigned together, but I am concerned about getting a lower choice school, what are my options?

Parents of twins and multiples must make a decision regarding how they want the twins’ assignment to work. Linking them together will ensure that they will be assigned together, but the trade-off will be that they both may be assigned to a lower choice or non-choice school.

Having twins treated separately in the process may result in, but not guaranteed of, one or the other twin receiving an offer to a higher choice school.

My twins are in a non-transitional grade (not TK, K, 6th or 9th) but I would like to transfer them both to another school. What are my options?

Applying for and receiving an assignment into a school and program in a non-transitional grade is only limited to available openings since students presently attending are expected to promote to the next grade.

It is recommended that parents of twins who want to transfer to another school or program check the “yes” box on the enrollment application so that the twins will only transfer if there are two seats available. Otherwise, there is a risk that one twin may be assigned and the other not. Once a twin receives a new assignment, they relinquish the former placement and there may be no opportunity to return.

Tie-Breakers

What is a tie-breaker?

Tie-breakers are preferences used to help place students in a requested school when the number of requests for a school is greater than the number of spaces available.

What are the tie-breakers for your elementary attendance area school choices?

Please see the description of the tie-breakers on the "Apply for Elementary School" page.

What are the tie-breakers for your elementary city-wide school choices?

Please see the description of the tie-breakers on the "Apply for Elementary School" page.

What are the tie-breakers for your middle school choices?

Please see the description of the tie-breakers on the "Apply for Middle School" page.

What are the tie-breakers for your high school choices?

Please see the description of the tie-breakers on the "Apply for High School" page.

What are the tie-breakers for your city-wide language programs (TK-12)?

Please see the description of the tie-breakers on the "Apply for Elementary School", "Apply for Middle School", or "Apply for High School" page.

Are test scores a tie-breaker?

If you live in an area of the city that has low average test scores (the lowest 20 percent), this counts as a tie-breaker in school placement. The purpose of this policy is to expand opportunities for all San Francisco students.

The Test Score Areas are dynamic and have been modified with updated test scores. You can use the Address Look-Up Tool to find the attendance area school, middle school feeder, and test score area for any street address in San Francisco

Attendance Area

What is an attendance area?

Elementary attendance areas are geographic borders drawn around elementary schools throughout the district. Middle and high schools do not have attendance areas/geographical borders.

How does my attendance area affect school placement?

We create attendance areas so there can be a system of helping you get placement in your attendance area school if you wish. You are not required to choose your attendance area school, nor can you be guaranteed a placement at your attendance area school. Middle school students get an initial placement offer based on the elementary school they attend, regardless of where they live. If middle school students decide to choose different schools, they will get an attendance area tie-breaker based on where they live.

Does every elementary school have an attendance area?

No. City-wide schools and city-wide programs do not have an attendance area.

Attendance Area SFUSD PreK or TK Tie-Breaker

How will the attendance area SFUSD PreK or TK tie-breaker work?

This is an attendance area tie-breaker that will apply to students who live in an attendance area and attend an SFUSD PreK or TK in the attendance area.

Will this tie-breaker apply to me if I attend an SFUSD preK or TK but do not live in the attendance area?

No. This is an attendance area tie-breaker that will only apply to students who live in an attendance area and attend an SFUSD preK or TK in the attendance area.

City-Wide Schools & Programs

What does ‘city-wide’ mean?

City-wide means there is no attendance area, and as a result city-wide schools and programs do not provide a tie-breaker for students who live near the school.

Which schools are city-wide?

To discover more about these schools, take a look at this school listing.

What are examples of city-wide programs?

Newcomer programs are a great example. These serve students who have recently arrived in the US and help them learn English. Other city-wide programs are language programs listed as city-wide on the application form. These are language programs that are available only at a limited number of schools, and have a separate enrollment capacity.

How does the student assignment policy relate to Lowell and Ruth Asawa SF SOTA high schools?

If you are applying to Lowell High School or the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, their admissions policies have not changed and the school placement policy does not apply. Lowell High School uses academic admission criteria, and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts has an audition process.

Can I transfer to a different school?

If you’re currently enrolled in a school and are interested in a transfer for any reason, you can submit a transfer request. We’ll process your transfer when feasible or where required by law.

How do we know if the assignment process is meeting the goals of the student assignment policy?

The SFUSD is developing specific criteria and many measurements for the success of the student placement system. The Superintendent will conduct an annual assessment and develop an annual report that will be presented to the Board of Education by January of each year starting in 2012.

Special Education

How is the assignment offer determined for students receiving special education services?

The Individual Education Program (“IEP”) team determines the appropriate services, settings, and placement options for each student receiving special education services. Although the majority of students receiving special education services may be served at any school and participate without restriction in the general enrollment process, certain highly specialized services for particular disabilities with low incidence rates are not available at all school sites. Detailed information on the enrollment process for all students with IEPs in the Special Education section, which contains the list of intensive services offered at specific schools. Special Education counselors at the EPC are available to assist families with their applications; drop-in and scheduled appointments are available.

Transportation

What about transportation?

The District offers limited general education transportation services to a limited number of SFUSD’s elementary and middle schools. As school bus transportation service is not a mandate under California law, the following Board policy guidelines inform the strategic use of resources for limited general education school bus transportation services:

  • Support choice in student assignment as a tactic for creating diversity
  • Provide reasonable access to English Learner pathways, from CTIP 1 areas to city-wide schools and programs, and to attendance area school
  • Support middle school feeder patterns
  • Provide limited school bus transportation to after school programs if feasible and necessary to support the District’s vision for after school services
  • Minimize the use of unrestricted general fund budget contributions for general education school bus transportation.

Over the past two years, we have reduced the fleet for general education services from 44 buses to 30 buses, and in 2014-15 we have to reduce another five buses from the fleet.

Limited Services in 2016-17

The specific routes for the 2016-17 school year will not be developed until November 2015 at the earliest. Once the routes are developed, the Transportation Department will send the information to schools, it will post the information on their web page and it will disseminate information via the Educational Placement Center (555 Franklin Street, Room 100, San Francisco, CA 94102).

Although the routes have not been developed, we anticipate providing limited transportation services to the following schools in 2016-17. This list of schools is subject to decrease if the level of state categorical resources specified for student transportation services decreases.

Elementary Schools (subject to change)

  • ALVARADO
  • BUENA VISTA HORACE MANN K-8
  • CARMICHAEL K-8
  • CARVER/MALCOLM X
  • CHIN
  • CLARENDON
  • DREW
  • EL DORADO
  • FAIRMOUNT
  • FLYNN
  • GLEN PARK
  • HILLCREST
  • STARR KING
  • LAFAYETTE
  • LAKESHORE
  • LAWTON K-8
  • LILIENTHAL K-8
  • MEC
  • MILK
  • MUIR
  • JOSE ORTEGA
  • ROSA PARKS
  • REVERE K-8
  • ROOFTOP K-8
  • SANCHEZ
  • SF COMMUNITY
  • SHERMAN
  • SPRING VALLEY
  • R.L. STEVENSON
  • ULLOA
  • VISITACION VALLEY ELM
  • WEBSTER
  • WEST PORTAL
  • YU K-8

Middle Schools (subject to change)

  • APTOS
  • FRANCISCO
  • GIANNINI
  • HOOVER
  • LICK
  • MARINA

Enrollment Process for Transportation Services

If your child is enrolled in one of the SFUSD schools receiving general education services, they may participate in transportation services, subject to availability. To ensure equitable access to this limited resource, parents must request services on behalf of their child(ren). The Request for Services form for the 2016-17 school year will be issued by the Transportation Department in early spring 2016. The Transportation Department will provide an online version and multilingual paper copies of the Request for Services form.

There is no guarantee that general education transportation services will be available, and all requests for service are subject to the Transportation Department’s review and approval. SFUSD reserves the right to change, reduce, allocate, or deny services or service routes, at any time, based on budgetary and other constraints.

Alternatives to Yellow Bus Transportation

Given the uncertainty regarding state categorical resources specified for student transportation, we strongly encourage all families to explore alternatives to yellow bus transportation services. Below are websites with community resources that provide alternatives to yellow bus transportation:
If you have any questions, please contact the SFUSD Transportation Department:
1000 Selby Street,
San Francisco, CA 94124
 Tel: (415) 695-5505
Fax: (415) 695-5759

Click here to see the most recent update on the school bus schedules for the current 2015-2016 school year.

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