31. January 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Springs School “Choice” Drama Part 1: School in the Woods · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,
Making the right school decision in Colorado Springs can make you lose your mind.

Making the right school decision in Colorado Springs can make you lose your mind.

Earlier in January, Timmy came home from school and asked if he could apply to the “School in the Woods.”

I hadn’t really heard of “School in the Woods” (I saw a girl at the boys’ school wearing a “School in the Woods” hoodie every day and that’s it), so I had to interrogate Timmy a little more about what it was.

“It’s a school for 4th graders and you spend all your time outside studying nature.”

Hey — outside is good, right? We went to the school’s website and read its mission statement and it turns out it’s a fantastic program for the 4th graders in our school district:

The Mission of School in the Woods, dedicated to the study of natural sciences in a natural setting, is to inspire our students to be critical thinkers as they pursue lifelong learning through direct interaction with living systems, integrated into an academically challenging curriculum in a safe environment. Our naturalists will share their deep appreciation and stewardship of the natural world with the larger community.?

Timmy’s my little “naturalist”. He enjoys learning about animals and has been on quite a gardening kick since we moved here. In fact, he’s already helping me plan our backyard garden (that’s for another post).

I think this school would be a great fit for him. And it’s on Vollmer Road, too, double bonus word score!

To apply your child for a special school such as the School in the Woods, you have to go to the school district website and fill out a “Choice Form”.

“Choicing” is the term used in the state of Colorado regarding having your child go to a school other than the one your home address is assigned to. In other states you might hear it as “open enrollment”. For some states, it’s pretty liberal, in others, it can be more stringent. In Colorado, any student living in the state has the right to apply to *any* school in the state, regardless of whether you’re assigned to it or not. Whether the student gets into the school will depend on the space available, and not all school districts have transportation plans to get your child to/from his/her “choiced” school.

Here’s how it works for School in the Woods. Current 3rd graders’ parents have until February 21st to apply for “choice”. Put “School in the Woods” on the form. For the School in the Woods, the district will randomly draw 78 students to attend the school.

I had to make very clear to Timmy that his chances of getting into this school are contingent on the number of 3rd graders who apply. Timmy and Jacob sat down one afternoon last week and attempted to estimate the number of 4th graders in the school district with the help of the district website.

  • 20 elementary schools in the district
  • The boys’ current school has three 3rd grade classes with around 30 kids each. Let’s round up to 100 students per school
  • 20 * 100 3rd graders = 2000 3rd graders
  • 78/2000 = 3.9% chance of getting in to School in the …..

….wait a minute, wait a minute! You can’t assume that all 2000 students’ parents are applying! We discussed some factors that could reduce the number of 3rd graders applying

  • “I don’t want to go to school outside all the time!”
  • “I have lots of friends at my home school and don’t want to leave them!”
  • “School in the Woods is far away and I will have to take a bus”

Frankly, I don’t even think half the 3rd graders will submit applications. So I had them just round down to 780 3rd graders:

  • 78/780 = 10% chance of getting into School in the Woods

Still not great, and I made it clear to Timmy that the odds weren’t very good.

Before you access the choice form, parents need to read and acknowledge some basic administrative information first. There’s also an additional form with the choice form that the student has to sign acknowledging that the school is only for 4th grade and he/she will be returned to their original school the following year.

I have the applications ready for signature, but we’re holding off turning them in until the School in the Woods open house this weekend. Just in case Timmy decides he doesn’t want to do it.

We’ll let you know if Timmy makes the cut!

Next up will be Part II — Discovery Canyon Middle School!