How it feels to be on a charter school waiting list

UPDATE: Great Hearts Monte Vista has added a second section of 9th grade (February 28, 2014)

How it feels to be on a charter school waiting list | San Antonio Charter Moms

Last week, I went to the public lottery for Great Hearts Monte Vista. (Here’s my earlier post about pre-lottery stress.)

What happened? Short version: F.T. drew a number somewhere in the middle, so we are on the waiting list, but we have hope.

If F.T. had gotten a really low number, then we would expecting an offer by email on January 29. (Those lucky ducks should hustle to accept the offers and get their paperwork in by Wednesday, February 5, so that siblings have the best chance to get a spot in the second round of offers on Friday, February 7.)

Instead, we’ll probably get an email inviting us to log in to the Great Hearts Texas online enrollment page, so we can find out where we stand on the waiting list. We can watch our rank on the waiting list rise as some families decline offers, and fall as siblings jump ahead of us in line.

If F.T. had gotten a really high number, then we would probably give up hope of getting into Great Hearts this year. Our backup plan is to continue homeschooling. (Did you know I am giving away a copy of the book How to Work and Homeschool by Pamela Price of Red White and Grew? Here’s the earlier post where you can enter the giveaway, which ends tomorrow.)

Great Hearts Monte Vista lottery 2014 | San Antonio Charter Moms

Great Hearts Monte Vista did a good job running the lottery, which drew a small group of true believers. I saw fellow bus riders (earlier post) and event organizers (earlier post). A computer program shuffled the application numbers, grade by grade, while computer-animated lottery balls bounced around on a projection screen; then, a grid showed application numbers (not names) and rank. The numbers looked small on the screen, so the operators printed out lists and clipped them to easels around the room. I saw a mix of happy and disappointed faces, but there were no exuberant celebrations or expressions of dismay.

Getting a number in the middle, rather than at the bottom, was a relief. I am optimistic that we will move up the waiting list. There are probably a few families who enrolled at Great Hearts but will change their minds and continue at their previous school (public or private), continue homeschooling, move away, etc.

Peter Bezanson, Great Hearts Texas Superintendent, at lottery | San Antonio Charter Moms

Peter Bezanson

Also, at the lottery last week, Peter Bezanson, Superintendent of Great Hearts, announced that Great Hearts Monte Vista will have a second campus. The first campus, Great Hearts Monte Vista South, at Temple Beth-El, will house grades K-5 (earlier post). The second campus, Great Hearts Monte Vista North, at Trinity Baptist Church, will house grades 6-9 (expanding to 6-12). (KIPP University Prep high school, which had been leasing space at Trinity Baptist (earlier post), will move to a new campus.) The two campuses are only a few blocks apart.

Because of the second campus, Great Hearts Monte Vista will be able to open more classrooms. Here is an unofficial estimate of the number of classrooms per grade:

  • Kindergarten through 5th grade: 3 classrooms per grade
  • 6th grade-7th grade: 2 classrooms per grade
  • 8th grade: 1 classroom
  • 9th grade: 2 classrooms

The estimated class size for kindergarten through 5th grade is between 20 and 24 students; I’m not sure about grades 6-9.

Being on the waiting list is stressful, but it’s a low-level anxiety that I can usually push out of my mind. The hardest part is not knowing when we might get an offer.

Second grade results | San Antonio Charter Moms

Second grade results: rank and application number

I am glad that we have a chance of getting an offer this year, because the waiting list is likely to get longer next year. Colleen Dippel, Executive Director of Families Empowered, a Houston-based nonprofit that informs parents about school choice options, says:

Our data shows that demand for more options increases when more high quality supply is introduced to the market. The more choice parents have the more they want, because they know best that one size does not fit all.

 The Families Empowered FAQ has these suggestions for families on waiting lists:

  • Look for other local charter schools that are similar to your first choice school and have open seats for the next year; my weekly guide (e.g., January 22 edition) may help.
  • Try to work with your current school to help your child have a better experience next year.

Also, I have created a San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to talk about options, including homeschooling. I don’t know whether or not I will be homeschooling F.T. next year, but either way, I want to help connect wait-listed families with experienced homeschoolers for academic and social support. Hope to see you there.

sachartermoms

Parent-activist and education blogger in San Antonio, Texas, USA. Helping parents make informed school choices and explore cultural activities.