Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting Ready for school is... different here...

The Santa Fe school system is quite extensive. I will volunteer in one public school and my daughter will attend the public school in the neighborhood where I reside. Already I am discovering how different school systems are in different regions of the U.S. For the first time I have discovered how difficult it can be to be an outsider.

I tried registering my daughter in May but was told that nothing could be done ahead of time until we actually had moved here. This meant that I moved out here a bit earlier than I intended. In order to register her, we had to have a birth certificate, a passport would not do, 2 pieces of mail with the address of our residence and a copy of our rental agreement. I also had her medical records which proved to be handy. I never had to prove my citizenship when we registered our daughter in Vermont.   Once we were here in New Mexico we discovered a change in the system. We actually could register online and were required to do so. The district uses the Powerschool operating system which is the same system used in Lamoille county, Vermont. I assumed that data entered would immediately transfer to our appropriate school. I was wrong. We had to register in person at a central office 18 miles from were we live and from the school we will attend. I stood in a very long line of people who were be redirected to forms to sign, online registrations, etc. I discovered that high school students must pay an additional registration fee of $12-35.00. Once our paperwork was approved, we were given a school supply list and a dress code explaining what allowances were acceptable for a school uniform. We discovered how inexpensive shopping for uniforms is compared to our usual school wardrobe. Target, for example, offers collared shirts in 2 colors for $6.00 each. The supplies were priced low but we still spent a considerable amount of money and I wasn't entirely certain if all of the supplies would be necessary for my daughter's actual needs. No mention of technology was included in our list. Three days later, we visited the school. We met a secretary to give us a tour of the brand new facility.  They told us then that we should've scheduled to visit the next evening  in order to pick up paperwork concerning classroom assignment. I wish they had told us this when we scheduled the tour. Nevertheless, we came the next evening and discovered that our daughter was not on the school's list. I was chagrined but kept positive.  A PTA greeted us on our way out of the building. They were selling tshirts designed by a local artist. These tshirts are the acceptable substitution for the collared shirt uniform and supposedly enjoyed by a majority of the students. The shirts were $10.00. The PTA charged a membership and offered many club activities and volunteer opportunities for parents.
Please check out the school supply list and uniform policy. I see immediate benefits for my family but I worry about costs of supplies for others. Is the PTA involved in defraying these costs? Does buying your own supplies make you more responsible? What happens to the unused supplies? Where is all of the focus on technology?And what happens when you do not comply with the policy?
We arrive, August 15th, first day of school.  We stand in another long line to pick up our registration. Our daughter's information is still not in the system.  We are still not registered.  Friendly people run around and finally discover her name and room placement.  We go to the classroom.  The teacher is unaware and unprepared for our visit.  Stay tuned. 

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