Saint Paul Public school choice – Our Story

I’m writing this post for two reasons: 1. Because someone’s personal story should be on the interwebs about how the Saint Paul Public Schools admissions process and 2. So my friends who live out of state and outside of Saint Paul and Minneapolis can see how much goes into choosing a school for your child.  (My suburban friends have fewer options, thus an easier process)

I’m in my nine month of learning about my options and trying to choose a school for my daughter. For other mamas like me who don’t have many friends with kids who’ve gone through the process already, or who don’t attend an ECFE class, there’s not much information available.  I sought out info on the district’s website a year and a half before Mariah needed to start kindergarten.  I thought I was on top of things.  I wasn’t.  We missed our chance for an easier “in” to one of the schools through the Pre-K program. (I’ve since discovered it’s good that I missed the deadline – our school year is just the way it needs to be for our family)

So here’s how it works (in a nutshell)

We have open enrollment, which means we can attend any school in the Saint Paul Public School district. Any school!  Which is great in theory. You can choose a school that suits the needs of your child, your views on education etc. But with so many choices, it’s overwhelming. I’m talking magnet schools (art, science, music, technology etc.), Montessori, Language Immersion (French, Spanish, Chinese), plus your traditional schools as choices. And once you feel like you’ve found a school that would be a good fit, you’re not guaranteed a spot. You apply for two. Only two, and hope you get into one based on the priority guidelines.

For most people,  maybe this isn’t a big deal. For me – Oh it’s a big deal! For one, I’m a planner and a control freak.  Second, I have an Elementary Education degree. Third, I have a child reading at a 2nd/3rd  grade level 7 months before kindergarten. All of those powers combined means I NEED to find the perfect school for my child.

Well that’s how I feel at least.

Some days I’m so grateful for the opportunity to chose. Other days I wish so badly the district would just tell me where to go so I could keep my issues out of it.

So we tour schools and attend open houses. Tours during the school day are MUCH better than evening open houses btw. With a two year old who screams “GO! Go Mommy! GOOOO!” every time we step into a classroom. No one else brings their kids. Or if they do, the children are silent. Not a peep.

We talk to Mariah about how there might not be room at these schools. We ask her opinion, because it should weigh into the decision, but we remind her we have the final choice. I try to trust my “Mommy intuition” when at a school. I pray God helps us chose the right one. But all this decision making takes it’s toll on my mind. It wears me out.

At this point we’ve submitted our two choices and praying we get our first choice.  Applications are due by next weekend, but we’ll be notified via letter by the end of March where our placement will be. So we wait. For a month and a half!  Good grief! (yeah, I’m not so good at waiting)

If you’re wondering, we’re hoping Mariah gets into the French Immersion school.  We feel like it’s a good fit because it “levels the playing field” for her.  She’s known letters and letter sounds since she was two, she started reading last summer, and she’s teaching herself multiplication. So this means she starts fresh learning something completely new.  She’s excited about the idea, and we know two other families with kids in the school, so I feel good about it too.

In a million years 8 weeks I’ll let you know the outcome. Until then I hope I don’t go crazy!


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