Counting down

Hopson: Registration numbers ‘somewhat disappointing’ as Memphis schools approach Day One

PHOTO: Laura Faith Kebede
Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson speaks at a news briefing days before the start of the school year.

With only days before the opening bell for Tennessee’s largest school district, a fourth of its students have yet to register and more than a hundred staff positions must be filled.

Leaders of Shelby County Schools reported Friday that about 74,000 kids were registered for classes that begin on Monday. That’s up from 34,000 students as of mid-June but nowhere close to the projected enrollment of more than 103,000.

Last school year, the district’s enrollment was more than 109,000.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said the registration numbers were “somewhat disappointing” since the district opened the process in May, more than two months earlier than in years past, to give families the flexibility to get their kids registered on time.

“It was our hope that we’d have pretty much all of our kids registered by now,” Hopson said at a news briefing.

Late school registration is a chronic issue for the district, with a high rate of student mobility and many parents bringing their children to school days and even weeks after classes begin.

Hopson said the school system also is seeking to fill 108 vacant staff positions, 80 of which had opened up in the last three weeks.

The superintendent urged parents to double-check school bus routes, as many have changed since last year.

“We did some work around some of our bus routes, and we believe that we were able to be smarter about the way we route this year,” he said. “It’s going to lead to more efficiency … but it’s also going to generate some savings.”

Most of the Memphis schools operated under Tennessee’s Achievement School District also start classes on Monday.

list list

Here are the 50 New York City schools with kindergarten waitlists in 2018

PHOTO: Christina Veiga
Kindergarten students at the Brooklyn School of Inquiry.

It’s the most anxiety-inducing season of all: Kindergarten placement letters are out in New York City.

All kindergartners are guaranteed a spot in a city school, and almost all families that prefer their zoned school ultimately get to enroll there.

But the city’s admissions process yields waitlists at dozens of schools for a period of time every year — and this year, there are 50 schools where not all local families who applied by the January deadline could be given a spot. In all, 590 applicants were placed on waitlists, compared to 1,083 a year ago, according to the city’s admissions tally.

Here are the New York City schools with kindergarten waitlists right now:

Waitlists typically clear over the spring and summer, as families opt for schools outside of their zone, including private or charter schools, or relocate out of the city. But each year, some kindergartners are assigned to schools outside of their zone — an issue that typically affects a few crowded neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn.

Half of the schools with waitlists had five or fewer children on them. Three schools had waitlists with more than 60 children: PS 196 and P.S. 78 in Queens and P.S. 160 in Brooklyn.

In a sign of just how volatile the admissions picture can be, just 23 of the 50 schools with waitlists this year also had them last year.

Some schools with large waitlists had none last year, according to a comparison of education department data from the two years. P.S. 78 in Queens has 73 children on the kindergarten waitlist this year, for example, but last year all zoned students who applied by the deadline were admitted right away.

On the other hand, some schools that placed many students on the waitlist last year were able to take all applicants this year. Last year, 43 children landed on the waitlist at P.S. 176 in Brooklyn, but this year, the school has no waitlist at all.

back to court

Nashville appeals judge’s order to share student information with state charters

The battle over student contact information will continue between Tennessee’s charter schools and its second largest school district.

Attorneys for Metro Nashville Public Schools on Friday appealed Chancellor Bill Young’s order to provide state-run charter schools with the names, phone numbers, and addresses of students.

The appeal came on the same day that Young originally set for Nashville’s district to comply with a new state law requiring sharing such information if charter operators request it. But a recent court extension assured Nashville leaders that they could exhaust the appeals process first.

The disagreement — which also touches on student privacy, school choice, and enrollment — has vexed state officials and lawmakers as they’ve sought to mitigate skirmishes between the state’s growing charter sector and its two largest districts, in Nashville and Memphis. Last month, Gov. Bill Haslam brought all parties to the table to seek a solution outside the courts. The State Department of Education was tasked with developing a way forward, but has not yet submitted a proposal.

While the state has urged local districts to comply with the year-old charter law, Nashville leaders argue it runs afoul of a federal law that gives districts discretion over who gets student contact information. For instance, school systems routinely share such information with companies that sell yearbooks and class rings.

The tussle has implications for the state’s largest school system, Shelby County Schools, in Memphis. Leaders there also have refused to hand over the information to charters in the state’s Achievement School District, which seeks to turn around Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools.

What Memphis parents should know about how schools share student information

Parents are divided on the issue. Some say the information exchange is an invasion of privacy, including when a Nashville charter school sent a barrage of text messages to parents, resulting in a $2.2 million settlement last year. Others say allowing charters to contact prospective students allows them to better explore their options.