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Enrolling in SFUSD: Start Your Search

posted Apr 8, 2016, 10:20 AM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Oct 27, 2016, 10:27 AM ]
SFUSD is a choice district. You can apply for any school in San Francisco. Students are not automatically assigned to a school in the neighborhood. Families enrolling in elementary school are given a preference to the attendance area school.

Make the most of your choices by following a few basic enrollment tips:

1. Explore a variety of public schools.
Begin your search with the SFUSD Enrollment Guide (click here to download the most current version). Or visit SFUSD.edu for general information on all schools in San Francisco. Elementary school considerations include:
  • Attendance Area Schools. Every family has an attendance area elementary school based on your home address. Although it is not a guaranteed assignment you are given a preference for your attendance area school if you list it on your application. See the SFUSD school locator to find your attendance area school. There are no attendance areas for middle and high school.
  • City-wide Schools and Programs. City-wide means that there is no attendance area. City-wide schools and programs do not provide a tie-breaker for students who live near the school. Language-immersion programs, biliteracy pathway programs, K-8 schools and the San Francisco Public Montessori School are all city-wide.
  • Non-Attendance Area Schools. You may list any school whether it’s your attendance area school or not. Many attendance area schools will have openings for families outside of the school boundaries.
  • Middle School Feeder Assignment. Beginning in 2017, assignments to middle school (Grade 6) will be determined by the elementary school the child attends. Click here for a complete list of middle school feeders. Students who do not wish to attend the middle school feeder have the option of applying to other schools. 
  • Charter Schools. Charter schools are public schools that are outside of the SFUSD system. Do not list them on your SFUSD application. Contact charter schools directly for their application procedures.
2. Consider your family’s personal needs.
Every family needs different things in a school. Here are some things to think about when you are looking at a school. 
  • Location
  • Start & End Times
  • Afterschool Information
  • Language or Academic Programs
  • Parent Involvement
  • Teaching and Classroom Style
  • Principal Leadership
  • School Culture
  • Academics
Watch this short video or read this article for more detail on school tours

3. Be flexible.
Check out schools which are lower in demand but have great school assets. Consider all schools and programs as possibilities.
  • Don't assume. Popular schools are not always "better.” Define for yourself what a “good” school is for you and your child. What appeals to you and your best friend may differ. 
  • Schools change. School leadership, new programming and parent involvement can differ from year to year. 
  • Look beyond test scores. Test scores are just one indicator of school quality, and are often misleading. Test scores do not differentiate English Learners, Special Education students, or the changing demographics of a school.

4. Discover schools for yourself.
Here are resources to gather data and information:
5. List as many schools as you can, and rank them in your order of preference.
Gather information and decide which schools meet your family's needs. 
  • Rank your choices. List the schools in the order that you truly prefer.
  • There is no limit. List as many schools and programs as you are comfortable with on your application. Listing many schools will increase your odds of getting schools you want. Getting a school on your list in the first round will NOT hurt your chances of getting another school higher on your list in future rounds. Whenever possible, the student assignment system will offer you the highest ranked school on your list.

6. Apply by the deadline.
Submit your application anytime before the deadline. Meeting the deadline gives you your best odds of getting a school you choose. Submitting early does not increase your chances. If you do not receive one of your top choice schools in the first placement round, there are subsequent placement rounds.


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