Friday, September 29, 2006

Stressing about school two years early

My son's birthday is 9/1. This is one day short of the 8/31 cutoff for kindergarten in Somerville. This is a hard and fast cut off and they do not make exceptions. Eric is only three but we're gathering information so we can decide either to suck it up and keep him in preschool for three years, or to send him to private kindergarten.

Rich and I both went to public schools and we believe in them. Plus contrary to popular belief Somerville public schools are excellent. The classes are small, there are diverse choices for types of programs Eric could attend and kids from Somerville High get into good colleges if they do well.

There is a free preschool in Somerville, but it's nearly 2 miles away through the worst traffic in the city. The whole reason I love being an urban parent is because I don't want to spend my life behind the wheel of a minivan. Somerville has zilch, zero, nada for school transportation, (unless your child has special needs) so if you don't want to attend your neighborhood school you're on your own. Carpooling in the age of carseats is complicated. We could fit a maximum of one additional child in our cars, and only if he or she does not require a carseat.

There are four choices as I see it:

  • Hold him back a year and have him start kindergarten when he's six. Suck it up and shell out an additional 10k or more on a convenient preschool.
  • Hold him back a year and have him start kindergarten when he's six, but send him to free preschool. Suck it up and do a daily commute, the thought of which makes me physically sick. Depending on where Kaylee goes, we'd have 2 separate drop off's. Did I mention I hate driving at rushour?
  • Send him to private kindergarten. I'm still waiting to find out if he goes to a private kindergarten if he could start first grade when he's six. Unless we send him to catholic school, we are talking some serious cash to do this.
  • Move. (I don't think so. We LOVE it here)

Great options, eh?

We met with the Superintendent of the Somerville Public Schools today. He is a mensch. (that IS a nice thing to call somebody.) He made us feel a lot better about Eric possibly going to public preschool at the Capuano Center when the time comes. He explained that the strict cut off is to avoid expensive and inevitable lawsuits when districts do assessments for kids on the cusp like Eric. We pretty much knew going into the meeting that we were not in a position to negotiate. The rules are the rules and it would be a HUGE can of worms if they let him or any other September kid into kindergarten when they're five. But we did leave the meeting feeling better about the school system than when we went in there, so that's something. And I was really pleased that he agreed to meet with us in the first place.

But for now I grind my teeth and feel awful about Eric's fifth year. I think a third year of preschool would be a waste of time, and/or money. I simply don't think he would need it. But private kindergarten is expensive and there's no guaranteeing that we'd get in even if we applied.

We'll see what happens.


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