Penn Alexander catchment parents once again forced to camp out in the insane weather to secure a seat… PAS kindergarten line started this morning | West Philly Local.
The City Paper published an article last week entitled Urban Studies. The article highlights the risk that parents take in choosing to go the a Philadelphia public school in the current climate. Specifically, budget cuts and declining enrollment are forcing the district to close schools and change catchment boundaries. The result–parents that gamble by buying a house in a desirable catchment or choose to invest in their catchment school and forgo the lottery or private school application process could end up out of luck–their intended destination becomes overburdened with students from other schools being diverted in or worse, the school is simply taken away.
Don’t think that the problem of having a school yanked out from under you is limited to public schools either. Private schools are not immune. Faced with declining enrollments, last week the Archdocese of Philadelphia announced that it was closing 44 elementary schools in the region (Inquirer story).
If you hadn’t noticed before last week’s news cycle that the education landscape in this city is in the midst of a sea change, how do you like the wake up call?
Having had my son in year-round day care prior to starting kindergarten, I was prepared for the fact that we would need to find child care for him during the summer months in the form of one or more camps. While I haven’t resolved that issue yet, another related issue has reared its ugly head. What do you do with a kid during their school vacations? Up until this week, it has been routine. A day for a teacher inservice is easy enough to find coverage or schedule my own work vacations. Two weeks for winter break, sot so easy. Timing my work vacations to coincide didn’t cover it all. I found myself scrambling to figure out what options I had for stimulating activity and child care during this longer break. I was disappointed in the number of options that I found. I really only found three programs, though I admit I didn’t really research music or athletic programs. Here they are, in no particular order.
- The Philadelphia Zoo has “Schools Out” Full Day Camps for kids ages 4-11
- The Philly Art Center has “Vacation Camps” at its Fairmount and Queen Village locations
- The Schuylkill Center in NW Philly has some interesting looking “Day Off” programs with an environmental focus designed for kids ages 5-12
They all seem great, but I am wondering–what other choices are out there? Please leave your suggestions in the comments–I want to try to create a larger repository of “vacation camps” for parents to have as a resource. Bookmark this page–I will link to that repository here when I create it…
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.
The new enrollment policy announced by Penn Alexander may not be the final word on the subject. Kristen Graham of the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the Spruce Hill Community Association is asking for the school to be expanded. In a letter to Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutman (Penn Alexander is sponsored in part by the University of Pennsylvania), the group said, “Any child living in the catchment area has the right to attend Penn Alexander and should have that right guaranteed from first grade through eighth grade.”
You can see the full letter here [PDF]. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.