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Ohlone lottery

Original post made by Midtown mom on Mar 4, 2010

Ohlone lottery results became available. There were 7 applicants per each spot. We live a block away from school, but we did not win. It is a lottery and how close you live to school does not matter. But I think it should! I will now have to drive my child to the elementary school, while we could have walked to Ohlone. And those parents who won the lottery but live far from it will need to drive their kids to school. I believe that the lottery system to choice schools needs to change to allow neighborhood kids who can walk to school preference, and only after tapping into local pool open it up for others. If my child was given a spot in Ohlone there would be no incremental driving, we would just walk to school, while now that we didn't win - there will potentially be two incremental trips - for me to drive my child to our assigned elementary school (which is 5 times farther than Ohlone) and for the family that won that spot to drive their child to Ohlone. Now how does that make sense?
I am not offering to change Ohlone into neighborhood school, I still think that parents applying to Ohlone must believe in Ohlone's method, but I am proposing that neighborhood kids do get preference due to enviromental impact.

Comments (47)

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:19 pm

"We live a block away from school, but we did not win. It is a lottery and how close you live to school does not matter."

This is the farce of giving up our neighborhood schools for the boutiques.

Most elementary age students should be able to walk to school. That is the way it used to be, before the boutique crowd got their way. It is time to go back to the future.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Midtown Mom,

Which lottery? There are two. The MI lottery has few openings. Ohlone-main is bigger and hasn't had that kind of ratio. MI is difficult because there are only 20 kinder spots, of those 20 spots, one third are supposed to go to native speakers. The remainder is supposed to be split between boys and girls. Of those remaining spots, however, siblings get priority.

So . . . roughly seven boy spots, seven girl spots. You can assume that half those spots are being taken by siblings--so your child was up for one of three or four spots.

You're working with a similar ratio for Ohlone main, but with 70 spots.

Anyway, historically, there has been some neighborhood preference with around half of Ohlone's student body coming from nearby. Doesn't look like the same system is used for MI in part because it's at the school on trial basis--so, it will possibly be moved.

Anyway, the inability to get into MI isn't a surprise--Escondido SI has had the same issue for years. It is one of the main objections to MI--it's a boutique program that benefits very few children and, because of sibling preference, even fewer families, while the vast majority of elementary school kids get no foreign language instruction.

Welcome to the vast majority.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Children denied admission to their local school have a right to demand transportation to another school. Tinsley and other out of district students should be assigned space only after locals are accommodated.I suggest a lawsuit.

Posted by Peony, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Midtown Mom,

You are inconsistent. You WANT a lottery school, but you DON'T want to have to go through the lottery. Anyway, if you live close enough to walk to Ohlone, you can walk to Palo Verde.

And it certainly should not matter how close you live to a lottery school--that would be deeply unfair.


No, there is no neighborhood preference in the lottery as it is run now.

And frankly, you come off as the pot calling the kettle black since Ohlone classic is a "boutique" program itself that benefits very few children and, because of sibling preference, even fewer families, while the vast majority of elementary school kids get no foreign language instruction.

Posted by Midtown mom, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I applied to regular Ohlone, not MI. This year's data of 7 applicants per 1 spot in regular Ohlone program comes from the school administration. My point was that the current lottery system should be reconsidered, a blended approach of priority placement to those living in short walking distance to school and lottery for the rest should be explored.
For those who live closer to Oregon - Palo Verde is a very long walk with a kindergartener, so it will definitely be a car ride

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Midtown Mom

I strongly advise you not to start driving your child to school but to consider biking. If you start driving then at what stage will you stop. A child will get into the habit of being driven everywhere and will never want to walk or bike to school.

Many kindergartners ride tagalong bikes connected to the adult bike or ride in a trailer and a younger sibling could also get into the trailer also.

Start your child getting to school without being driven and you will be teaching an important lesson which will last for all the school years. Driving them will teach them to be dependent on you and your car.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Mar 5, 2010 at 1:04 am

Was the ratio of seven applications for each space at Ohlone, for the spaces after sibling preference and Tinsley students were accomodated? Younger siblings of current Ohlone students and Tinsley students get spaces before new families via the lottery.

Posted by Mathematician, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 5, 2010 at 6:28 am

"We live a block away from school..."
"I will now have to drive my child to ... school"
"... our assigned elementary school ... is 5 times farther than Ohlone"

Since when is 5 x 1 block = 5 blocks too far to walk?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 7:27 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

If you have a life, a 30 minute round trip walking your kid to school might be a luxury you can not afford. Liberals are mighty liberal with other people's time. What is more important, walking your kid to school or sorting your garbage under penalty of forfeiture of collection?

Posted by more of the same, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

This comes up every year. Ohlone isn't your neighborhood school. It's been a alternative school since 1976. You knew that when you bought your house. Now you start complaining because you didn't get in via the lottery?

Posted by Ohlone dad, a resident of Ohlone School
on Mar 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

Another way of looking at this problem -- and I agree that it's terrible for neighborhood kids not to be able to go to their neighborhood school -- is that perhaps the district should respond by creating more Ohlones. Sounds like there were about 500 families wanting to get into Ohlone. That's a huge demand for schools to be run the Ohlone way. If more schools adopted elements of the Ohlone philosophy, perhaps families would be less desperate to escape those others chools.

Posted by more of the same, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2010 at 9:16 am

"Sounds like there were about 500 families wanting to get into Ohlone. "

Depends how many places there were. If there were only 10 places after sibling preference/Tinsley then that's only 70 kids. Also, not all take up their place if offered it.

There is no downside to applying to lottery schools. A lot of people apply because they can. It would be better if they made assignments to lottery & neighborhood schools at the same time. You specify on your application a first choice: a lottery school or your neighborhood school. First choice students are dealt with initially with the rest put into a reverse lottery for the neighborhood school - if it's oversubscribed.

Currently you don't know if you're in the neighborhood school until around April. Whereas you know already if you've made it into the lottery school.

Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:00 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Ventura
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

I'm sorry you didn't get in to Ohlone but all PAUSD elementary programs are very good.

Ohlone draws families from all over town including up in the Palo Alto hills. The benefits of attending your neighborhood school is that your child will make more friends in your neighborhood and you'll do LESS driving overall for play dates, parties etc.

It is < 1 mile between Ohlone & PV. If your kinder can't walk that far twice a day, I strongly encourage trying the trail-a-bike. Maybe there are other PV families who can be bike buddies. Biking together builds strong bodies and enhances a sense of community.

Live your values.

Posted by Midtown mom, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

According to the school, there were 140 applications for kindergarten in the regular Ohlone program this year. I know they draw separately from girls and boys pool to ensure gender balance. I am not aware that there are spaces set aside for Tinsley kids, but I wouldn;t be surprised if they are, and I have absolutely no problem with that. After siblings (and whoever else) were accomodated there were only 20 spots left.
Ohlone is in less than 5 min walking distance from our house and Palo Verde (the school my child got assigned) is 20 min walk for an adult. I have another child and I also work, so I don't have a spare 45-60 min in the morning for walking my child to school. I can certainly foresee us biking when my child is older, perhaps in the 3rd grade, but for now it will have to be driving. While if Ohlone gave us same preference as it gives to siblings, it would have been better for all. People talk about fairness, but why is it fair to give preference to siblings and not to those of us who live next door to the school. We pass Ohlone school almost every day and my child wonders why it it not her school... She does not grasp the concept of lottery and she can't understand why we will need to drive to a school a mile away while there is this school next door.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

I am scared of trail-a-bikes every time I pass one by. As a mother I do not feel safe pulling my child in one.
Some of PA elementary schools have too large of a draw area and they are not really a neighborhood school. Those who want to argue this statement - just look at how many cars drive to schools in the morning.
I agree with midtown mom. There should be neighborhood preference in addition to siblings preference. We want to keep kids in schools as close their home as possible.

Posted by Lena, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

I am appalled at the diminutive comments of some people in this thread,e.g. "whopping 5 blocks", "stop whining", "you start complaining", etc. Midtown mom did not complain, she offered her opinion and suggested a blended approach to the lottery. People, stop being so angry and learn some netiquette, for God's sake, you live in Palo Alto, the intellectual heart of Silicon Valley.

Posted by Midtown mom, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

Thank you, Lena

Posted by kludged, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 5, 2010 at 11:01 am

Dear Midtown Mom,

Ohlone is a school with a specific philosphy, namely progressive education. This philosophy works when parents are committed to it. So for example, learning occurs as a result of interest, not testing, at the students pace. The philosophy is that children learn at different paces and this should be allowed to develop at a natural pace. When my daughter attended two years at Ohlone, I met too many parents who said "My kid needed to get into one of the two special schools" even though the schools have OPPOSITE philosophies! So when parents show up for school meetings and ask at Ohlone "Why isn't their more testing?" They miss the point.

Ohlone and Hoover are separated for reason. If you truely beleive in alternative education then for all means, fight to get your kid into Ohlone, but if this is about 1 versus 5 blocks you'll probably be happier at the assigned school.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

Midtown Mom

You don't say whether you are wait listed or not but it would be a good idea to find out if you are and at what number on the list. It is true that not all places are taken and sometimes this is not always known until school begins in the Fall. Many families apply to PAUSD as well as private schools and just never turn up at PAUSD. Some families think that they don't mind driving across town for a lottery school, but when the school year starts they regret the decision and change back to neighborhood school (if there is space).

So, unless you are way down the list, don't give up hope yet. Call the Ohlone office and find out where you are on the list and then call every month or so until it changes. Also, check just a couple of days before school starts.

Posted by new in town, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Although mid-town mom's issue seems to be about logistics more than school philosophy, the demand for Ohlone is notable. I hope it's due to a backlash against homework for younger kids who are already tracking at a fairly advanced academic pace for a bunch of 5-8 year olds. Who has time to play with the neighborhood kids or experiment with mud pies when you've got Everyday Math worksheets each night?

I'm hopeful that more neighborhood schools see this and are trying to bring some of what Ohlone offers in terms of personal and interpersonal growth to the neighborhood schools.

The message presented to parents of incoming K's in January was that the difference between neighborhood schools and Ohlone is not as vast as it used to be. They also said Hoover was not as much outside the mainstream either. I'm not sure how that works when O and H are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

btw - Palo Verde is a great school and she is lucky to have a spot. We have neighbors three blocks away who may not get in....creating even more pollution (ack!)

Posted by Midtown mom, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

First of all, I never said I want my kid in Ohlone just for proximity reasons! I happen to believe in Ohlone method. So don't jump to a conclusion that it is all about logistics to me.

Strangely, people seem to accept the fairness of siblings priority but not the fairness of neighborhood priority. Both could have positive environmental impact.

I was informed by Ohlone administration that the school does not wait list. If spots become available the randomly choose from the remaining lottery applications, and chances are very slim. Proximity to school or passion about Ohlone method won't matter.
Whoever recommends "fighting to get your kid into Ohlone" please explain how, but I am very sceptical it is possible.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Go back to neighborhood schools, period. No boutiques, unless those parents want to force a charter school to open for their pet cause. Otherwise, they can create or join a private school that satisfies their needs.

Public elementary education should be straight-forward, no-frills and convenient. Believe it or not, it used to be this way in Palo Alto. It is not up to our school district to teach kids to be immersed in one particular thing or another. We should not be paying for the additional teachers to providie for 20 kids/class, k-3.

Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

"First of all, I never said I want my kid in Ohlone just for proximity reasons! I happen to believe in Ohlone method. So don't jump to a conclusion that it is all about logistics to me."

If it's not about logistics then why did you bring it up? I think your post is the typical passive aggressive type argument that is pervasive in Palo if you don't get your way, find some extraneous reason why you should have...vis a vis, the environment, proximity, bla bla bla......

Posted by more of the same, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

OPA, that says it all.

Midtown mom, you do realize why sibling preference exists? I can't believe you're trying to equate that with proximity to the school.

Posted by PAUSD Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Midtown Mom,

Let's say the neighborhood preference did exist. But let's also say you lived in Barron Park instead of Midtown.

Would you still want the neighborhood preference? Or would you be crying out that it is unfair because your child got disadvantaged? I would bet a million dollars that people (although not necessarily you) would be moaning about how just because they bought a home in Barron Park they couldn't go to Ohlone.

Anytime there are limited resources that can't be evenly divided, some people are going to lose. The only options are to either give the resources to no one at all (a return to all neighborhood schools), or have some unhappy people.

If you believe that the lottery programs benefit more than just the families who go there, then the answer is to have some unhappy people. I personally believe that the lottery schools in Palo Alto enrich the city life sufficiently that they are worth the unhappy people.

If the other schools were bad schools I might have a different opinion, but it isn't like those who don't get in end up going to a dangerous, violent place with no learning going on. All the schools in Palo Alto do excellent work and the diversity among them makes Palo Alto a great place to live.

Posted by Jane, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm

PAUSD policy for ALL students at ALL schools protects sibling preference. How would you like to have a kinder, 2nd grader and a 4th grader in 3 different schools? Think what a dose of ice water that would be on parents getting involved in their school and investing their time & talents to support the school. Think about how much fun it would be for parents to try to deliver 3 kids to 3 schools that all start within 20 minutes of each other (and nope, no chance to drop a word in the teacher's ear about anything), and the same craziness at pick-up time.

Posted by Loteria, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:24 pm

No preference is given by PAUSD to students who live near Ohlone. However, there are more applicants from people who live nearby whether or not they are enthusiastic about the Ohlone philosophy. The higher percentage of locals in the lottery accounts for the higher local enrollment at Ohlone. This is true for all choice programs; some people will apply because it's convenient, but they wouldn't apply if it were at an inconvenient location.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Okay, a couple of things. First, people do get into Ohlone after the initial draw. I've known people to get in a week after school started--and, for the really determined, years later. There's enough attrition that a lot of people do get offered a spot later.

If Garland reopens, I think, Midtown Mom, that there's a good chance your child will be offered a spot. The plan is to make Ohlone a megaschool--and that means there will be an expansion of the Ohlone-main strand if MI moves to Garland.

As for Tinsley, yep, there's a Tinsley alotment at Ohlone like every other school. There are also a lot of kids of PAUSD teachers and administrators. I don't know how that affects the lottery, but Ohlone pulls a number of kids from that group, more than the other elementaries.

Midtown Mom, sorry for how I came off. It was rude, I apologize. The ratio is way beyond earlier years, when it's been more of 3:1 ratio. I wonder why the lottery was so large this year given that the overall number of kids entering school is not. I think a number of people who applied may change their minds, since, as others have said, people just kind of apply to apply. When push comes to shove, some who applied and got in will choose another school or program.

Back to the general thread discussion--keep in mind that our district has been overcrowded for a while. Making everything a neighborhood school is NO guarantee that every child can go to his or her neighborhood school. The lottery schools actually mean that some kids in the overcrowded areas choose not to attend their neighborhood school and leave space for kids who want to be there.

Remember, all the kids at the lottery schools are going to go somewhere. My issue with the immersion programs is that they're inefficient in terms of space usage--the language requirements means kids can't come into the program late with rare exceptions. Attrition means that the upper-grade classes are going to be small.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm

How many Tinsley students got get unfair advantage at Ohlone and other PAUSD schools?
Tinsley was rammed down the PAUSD 30yrs ago,
when the demographics of EPA were very different and the science of education was more primitive.

Time for a change and to encourage EPA to accept the challenge of educating its children rather than rejecting that task.

Posted by kludged, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Dear Midtown Mom,

Don't know your financial situation, but if you like Ohlone for your kid, you'd love Peninsula School in Menlo Park. Ohlone is a compromised version of progressive education, but at Peninsula School it's the real thing. My oldest daughter spent kindergarden at Ohlone when she got her new first grade teacher, the teacher didn't even realize she was at a progressive school. There was an incident at lunch where two classmates of my daughter ended up in a fist fight. My daughter came home and announced that "eating on the grass at ohlone wasn't safe, but staying in the classroom for lunch was safe!" We moved her and our other two kids to peninsula School and were delighted ever since.

The only issue is tuition. Ohlone is free to PA residents.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Never-picked, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 5, 2010 at 8:21 pm

It's disappointing that Midtown Mom wasn't given a waitlist number. I'm very skeptical of the "random" draw at the school once people begin to drop out. It simply isn't right that people not be told where they are on a waitlist. If Midtown Mom and her daughter were told that they are number 3, they could be hopeful. If they were told they were number 70, they could make their peace with the "neighborhood" school, or begin investigating some of the private schools if they wanted to. That "random" draw doesn't sound so random if badgering the school makes a difference in how randomly the names are drawn. That is my biggest problem with the lottery programs -- and I have issues with plopping them down in the middle of neighborhoods -- but I would at least feel better if I could count on my public schools to adhere to basic tenants of fairness. Publish the number of people who entered the lottery. Publish the length of the waitlist. Let people know where they are on the waitlist. Poll folks and find out why they are applying (anonymously -- not as part of an 'application" process, which would be distasteful at best and something possibly ugly) and find out why folks want a lottery school. Perhaps Ohlone Dad is right, and people want more Ohlone-like education in their neighborhood schools. Perhaps Loteria is right, and folks really are applying because it is their neighborhood school, including one of my closest friends, who is fine with the "progressive" philosophy that is not that different from the other schools - including Hoover. Perhapsnew in town is right and the Ohlone demand is a backlash against homework. But PAUSD will never know unless they ask the questions. And the question for me is -- why not ask those questions? Why not the numbered waitlist? Why not a little sunshine on the process and the motivations?

Ohlone has a new principal. He could have lead on this. It's disappointing that he didn't. And I know that all principals are busy, and he has a lot on his plate, but that is the job he asked for. He could have gained community wide goodwill and served the entire district.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 5, 2010 at 9:14 pm

"Making everything a neighborhood school is NO guarantee that every child can go to his or her neighborhood school."

If the boutique crowd would establish charter schools, or take their desires to private schools, giving us back our neighborhood school sites, we could indeed have neighborhood schools available to the vast majority of neighborhood kids. Imagine that kids from any given neighborhood could walk to school...a modern epiphany!

Posted by Ohlone Dad (2), a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 6, 2010 at 12:17 am

So I have a child at Ohlone and it has been great. I am a teacher and whole-heartedly agree with the Ohlone philosophy. I recently helped at a math night, which was very fun and a great community builder. I liked Ohlone for many reasons, one being the fact that classes are two grade levels. This builds in differentiation and allows your child to advance at their own pace and have the same teacher for two years. I feel that my child and my family were lucky to get in and we are making the most of it. We do have a longer commute, but it's on the way to work and we have some nearby classmates. It really is a wonderful school.

I'm curious why John of College Terrace doesn't want to pay the money for k-3 class sizes of 20. It's actually 22 in the district, I believe, but it really is important to have small class sizes in lower elementary classes. You could easily argue that 22 is too high.

I do think that we are lucky to live in Palo Alto and have the choices and great schools and teachers we have. I do wish more people had an Ohlone-like option.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2010 at 4:25 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Why not an Ohlone wing at every school? And Sharon, buzz me.

Posted by Loteria, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 6, 2010 at 5:08 pm

20+ years ago, people were putting their kids' names on waitlists for Ohlone & Hoover as soon as the kids were born. That practice was put to a stop because it meant that there was no space available for any child who moved into the district between birth and age 5.

Nowadays, when lotteries are conducted, a handful of extra names are drawn, forming a small waitlist so that when parents decline a spot offered to them, there are immediate names next in line to call. But there is no long waitlist because each year is a new year. If a new kid comes into the district, they can add their names to the pool for any of the choice programs, and if spots are available, names are drawn from the pool.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Is the Ohlone lottery still done in secret at the school?
It always seemed strange to me that the draw did not occur at the district office.

Posted by mare, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm

what is the ohlone philosophy?
Is it good for all kids or only certain types?
clue me in please

we go to our neighborhood school - wondering how they differ other than mixed grades

Posted by Mom, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Ohlone doesn't give out additional homework. If they don't finish in class, they can finish at home. They mix grades so that each grade can learn from each other. It's project-oriented. Its reputation is liberal and touchy-feely as opposed to traditional, structured teaching.

Posted by Ohlone, a resident of Ohlone School
on Mar 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm

After the initial lottery, the "follow up lottery winning" are not randomly picked.

Posted by AA, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I live one house away on the same street and we didn't get in either.
I contacted Dr Skelly and the board about the lack of transparency in their "waitlist" procedures and got a lot of lip service. The information on the Ohlone site was totally contradictory to the information given to me over the phone and I still had to badger them for a simple apology.
We were told there was no waitlist, both by the Ohlone website and directly by various people at PAUSD. Then the Ohlone office said they did have a waitlist of people but that we weren't on it, when I asked where the list came from they told me "the district just sent it to us" I again contacted the district and was told that actually there was a waitlist, but we didn't make it. Apparently we would have been welcome to come see the drawing. Really and when was it? Why didn't you publicize it? If we had been told on day one we didn't make the list then we wouldn't have held out hope but we were told repeatedly that every time a spot opened up they would draw a new name. This simply was not the case.
Why PA chose this school with only one street entrance to be a lottery school I will never know, the traffic at drop off and pick up is horrendous, just backing out of my driveway is dangerous and once a friend waited for 15 minutes simply to turn into my driveway because a parent too lazy to walk was blocking it while sitting there. That's in addition to the number of times we have had to call the police as our driveway has been totally blocked.
To add insult to injury our name was also pulled at the Palo Verde reverse lottery as this school was oversubscribed (good job voting against re-opening Garland a few years ago, PA school board, heavy sarcasm intended). When I asked where we would go at that point, I was told the district didn't know. Thank goodness we were able to secure a spot at Palo Verde after all.
We will be walking past Ohlone, a mile down the road to go to Palo Verde this fall. PV is wonderful and we will be very happy there but this lottery situation is just a giant mess.
Would I have applied to Ohlone even if we didn't live so close? Yes, we went to a play based preschool and strongly believe in the Ohlone core values. Am I extra pissed we didn't get in because we live next door? Absolutely. I've heard a lot of reasons for parents choosing Ohlone and their core philosophy isn't usually at the top, location and friends seem to be the most important. Palo Alto needs to revise their system.
Why have Ohlone applicants write an essay if the selection process is just totally random, what's the point? If you pick someone and you don't like the essay, is that really going to change the decision? Of course not, so stop stringing parents along.

Posted by Linda, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

Does anyone have news about the numbers in this year's lottery, which just took place? We did not get in and we got a postcard the very next day (Saturday) letting us know that we are not even on the waitlist. At least they are notifying people promptly.

And as far as the system being fair, I think people with only one child get a raw deal because we don't have sibling preference working for us, ever. We get one ticket in the lottery, essentially. I am NOT suggesting a change, just pointing out that the random selection process with no accommodations for geography, alignment with philosophy (which as a Bank Street School of Education graduate I couldn't be more aligned with) or family size affects each one of us negatively in different ways. The current system is really the only way to make it basically fair and doable for families. Though that doesn't make me any less disappointed. I am crushed.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Not even on the waitlist? That's a new one.

Well, I said ages ago that it was unfair to put in an MI strand when we had a large waitlist for the existing 3.5 strands of Ohlone.

Now we have a huge school--around 600 kids and still not coming close to serving the demand for the program. (I feel for that parent listed above who lives on Amarillo and couldn't get in.)


If you really want your child at Ohlone, call up, make sure you are put on the waitlist and be prepared to transfer in a couple of years--spots *do* open up later on and there is much less demand for them.

I'll add, though, that a lot of families do end up very happy with their neighborhood schools.

Posted by Linda, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Hi OhlonePar,

I will transfer my son in on the last day of 5th grade, if that's what it takes. We'll be there, though it may be a long long haul.

For the waitlist, they take the original pool of applicants, draw the names of students who get this year's open spots, and then draw 15 names for the waitlist. When they start using the waitlist to fill spots, they go back to the general pool and draw more names to bring the waitlist back to 15 spots. So we sit in the general pool until we get extremely lucky.

Did anyone get the numbers for this year? I called the office and left a message but never heard back.

Posted by anon, a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Mar 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

An earlier poster suggested that Ohlone and other special program schools should become charters. I doubt if many who are watching the horribly acrimonious and expensive legal battles that the creation and subsequent growth of the charter in the adjoining LASD would make that suggestions.

PAUSD has been wise and creative in allowing choice schools while still maintaining control over enrollment, locations, etc. In contrast, it now seems likely that a court will decree which current LASD school will be closed to house the charter. If the expansion to a second charter takes place, as has been mentioned, it may mean the loss of a second neighborhood school, to an organization with a self-selecting board.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Charters are a headache for basic-aid districts, which is how the district let itself get cornered into the MI program and turned Ohlone in a megaschool.

Both Ohlone and Hoover, the two "choice" schools, way predate charters.

We desperately need, though, Green Gables to reopen--I think part of the reason the Ohlone lottery's so bad this year--this is the first time I've heard of a waitlist within the waitlist--is that there's been such a pile-up at all the schools.


There tend to be more boy than girl applicants for the open lottery, so it is harder to get in with a son. I've known of more than one case where the older sister was transferred to ensure a spot for the younger brother. People tend to be more concerned about whether their sons are ready for a highly controlled environment.

But the number of people ready to transfer their child from one school to another is relatively small compared to the initial list. There are also a number of people who apply to all the choice schools under the assumption that choice must, somehow, be preferable no matter what the choice.

I've seen kids transfer into Ohlone in the higher grades who've just moved to the district.

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