The Montclair kindergarten morning tours have, thank God, ended. The extravaganza not only ate the better part of a whole week, it also consumed my brain cells. Last Monday through Thursday, I listened as six principals sold me their schools. I walked through elementary institutions that were vastly different but still somehow the same. Each day, I grappled with emotions around why I responded to certain schools and disliked others. Thursday, I guiltily revisited an elementary because I didn’t trust my first instinct. Note to self: Trust your first instinct.
I’m not going to sit on a pedestal and say all of Montclair’s schools are equal. They’re not. They each have pros and cons. For example, one school has smart boards in every classroom and another boasts only a handful of the white contraptions. Both of these elementaries boast the top scores on standardized state tests. All I’m saying is that there are reasons some people prefer Watchung and others steer away from Edgemont. (Don’t roast me for dissing Edgemont, it’s high on my list.)
I did figure out three things, and those are my top choices for school next year. I don’t want to jinx my chances by listing my new favorites here. I will say that my original list of schools in order was: Nishuane, Northeast, Bradford, Bullock, Watchung and Edgemont. Now my preferences are completely different.
My husband didn’t have to go on PTA-lead tours, but he still put in his time. While at work, he used the School Report Card button to your right on the Barista Kids home page to crunch data. He factored in test scores, volatility in scores from grade to grade and subject to subject. He made a chart and spreadsheet to view each school side by side. He came up with what he believes should be our top three schools. His list matched mine perfectly. Using statistical prowess, he also figured out the best strategies for getting the outcome we want in the kindergarten lottery. But that’s another story I might write later.
Last Friday, school choice applications were available at the Montclair Board of Education. Parents have to walk the applications to the building on Valley Road along with stacks of documentation between April 25 and 28 from 1 to 8 p.m. It’s nail-biting time after that. Placement letters go out on July 15.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my kindergarten journey. My fingers and toes are crossed that we get our first choice. Or at least our second. Or maybe our third…