05/27/15 SF Board of Education Adopts New Enrollment Policy for Ruth Asawa School of the Arts

SF Board of Education Adopts New Enrollment Policy for Ruth Asawa School of the Arts

Press Release

May 27, 2015 (San Francisco) – The San Francisco Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution that enrollment at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (RASOTA) be restricted to students who live in the City and County of San Francisco. The Board’s resolution also expressed support for institutionalizing systems and procedures to support middle students in preparing for entry to RASOTA.

“This decision is about our responsibility to the students of San Francisco.  We need to find our musicians, our visual artists, our dancers, right here in San Francisco,” said the resolution’s initial sponsor commissioner Rachel Norton.

For many years, Board of Education policy allowed the school to accept up to ten percent of its student body from outside SFUSD as a way to help broaden the pool for harder-to-find talents or abilities (for example, male dancers or harpists or tuba players); however, actual school enrollment has regularly exceeded that percentage.

In its research of the issue, the board found that there is an underrepresentation of certain racial and ethnic groups -- particularly Asian, Latino, and Pacific Islander students.  It was also noted that, for the 2014-15 school year, RASOTA received no applicants from students living in several neighborhoods including Chinatown, Downtown/Civic Center, Fillmore, North Beach, Pacific Heights/Cow Hollow, Presidio, Seacliff, SOMA or the Tenderloin.

Last year, a team from the school examined and developed a new arts program for the school that would better address the community’s needs and serve a population within SFUSD it is not currently serving.  The team surveyed more than 300 applicants, visited eight leading arts high schools around the country, and met weekly to analyze data and determine how to shape a curriculum that attracts a broader auditioning base and culturally diverse demographic.

In support of this, the board committed to partner with community-based organizations to fund and support a summer program for SFUSD students in grades five, six, and seven. These programs – with outreach to under-represented populations – will be designed to enhance artistic skills, competencies, and dispositions to better prepare them for the application and audition process for the school.  

The new policy will go into effect for students applying to attend in the fall of 2016. Students who have been accepted to RASOTA or who currently attend will be allowed to continue until their families choose to leave the school or they graduate or are removed from the school as otherwise permitted by law.

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Page updated on 05/27/15

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