So much of this blog has been focused on my own experience, which has been cetered around picking an elementary school. The Notebook, a local periodical dedicated to educational reporting in Philadelphia, regularly publishes it’s Annual Fall Guide to High Schools. This year’s guide is downloadable from their website and includes info on:
And this year’s guide includes info on the competitive admissions at many District high schools and on a variety of college prep programs. The Notebook also maintains a corresponding resource page chock full of online resources, including the current guide and past guides.
Well, it’s that time of year again. School has started for most, but some are trying to figure out where to send their kids next year. Yes, it’s once again time again for the Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP)! For Philadelphia residents, VTP allows families to apply for seats in public schools outside of their designated catchment. Applications are accepted starting on September 19 and you want to be early if you can. Last year I published a post that served as a primer on transfers, but it was so popular (and now outdated) that I decided to revise it for 2012-2013 and post it as a page, making it easier for parents to find. You can find it under the “Start Here” menu at the top of the page or get there directly from here.
Incidentally, West Philly families considering Lea Elementary should check out advice about VTP and lots of information specific to Lea VTP on the West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools website.
There’s a new resource out there for Philadelphia area parents. Inquirer reporter Miriam Hill just launched a blog called Raising Philadelphia. Ms. Hill works on the Inquirer City Desk, though regular readers of this blog may know Ms. Hill as the reporter who wrote the feature about this blog earlier this year. With Raising Philadelphia, Ms. Hill aims to discuss “raising children in Philadelphia and …making this city better for kids.” Her first post was entitled “Quandaries of raising a child in Philadelphia” outlined her own personal interest in the school search issue. I already referenced her post listing recommended books for incoming kindergartners. Avid readers of this blog should definitely pay attention to what Ms. Hill has to say.
Now in its fifth year, the Mount Airy Parent’s Network Annual School Discussion Group is a subgroup of MAPN that meets virtually every August through December. Members of the group share information, arrange tours, and, in general, just support each other through what can be a stressful process for many families. As moderator of the group, I share information on the various schools, deadlines, and links to relevant news items. I also share contact information of other MAPN members who already have children at these schools. The group may focus on any aspect of education–public, publicly-funded charter, private, and parochial, as well as homeschooling/unschooling options. Traditionally, these members are parents of younger children.
The focus and level of activity is driven by the interest of the group’s members. Although most discussion takes place online, some previous groups have chosen to meet once or twice in person. In previous years, all discussion took place via email in order to accomodate the most people. However, the group has grown too large to effectively manage by email. This year we will be meeting on a private (closed) group on Facebook that you must join through me. Only current members of MAPN may join the group.
If you’re interested in participating this year, please send your name, email address, and the age(s) of your child(ren) to me at babygrauke [at] yahoo . com. (Please do NOT reply to the entire discussion board.) I will add you to the FB group and contact you with more details.
MAPN Moderator & Co-founder
There are plenty of resources like The Inquirer’s Report Card on the Schools and Greatschools.org that parents can use to learn more about schools that they are considering. Add another great resource to the list–The Notebook and Plan Philly have collaborated to create an interactive map of Philadelphia school district facilities and some very insightful statistics:
In addition to name and address, each facility includes the following information:
Facility type: As identified by the District
Built: Year of construction
Current status: Whether the facility is open or closed, whether it is owned or leased
Grades: Current grade configuration
2010 school enrollment: Based on District figures for fall 2010
% increase in enrollment, 2005-2010: Based on District figures for 2005, 2010
% of school capacity in use: Fall 2010 enrollment as a % of Feb. 2010 capacity*
AYP status in 2010: Based on state data
Keystone Achievement Award winner: School has met adequate yearly progress (AYP) for two consecutive years
I assume that they created the map for the purpose of informing the public in the light of declining enrollments and the inevitable school closings that are coming as a result. However, this map (larger version here) is also another interesting input for parents collecting information on schools. Incidentally, if you like interactive school maps, be sure to check our out.