Applying to SunRidge School—Frequently Asked Questions
School Site(s) Q: We understand that SunRidge has two campuses. How does that work and will that be the case next year? A: SunRidge has grades 1-8 and the administrative offices located on our town campus at 7285 Hayden Avenue in Sebastopol, and the SunRidge kindergartens and our Homeschool Program are located on our country campus at 487 Watertrough Road, about a mile or so outside of Sebastopol. This arrangement will continue at least through June of 2015. We are currently studying the benefits and challenges of unifying our K-8 school on one campus, weighed against the benefits and challenges of keeping the kindergartens in the current country setting.
Enrollment Factors Q: Do we need to get an inter-district transfer if we don’t live in the Twin Hills school district? A: No, an inter-district transfer is not required to attend a charter school in California.
Q: My child currently lives with his father in another state. Can I apply for him before he moves here with me? A: Unfortunately, no. As per California charter law, applications can only be considered for residents of California.
Q: My child has an IEP. Will that affect his application? A: No. While we need to know about a student’s special needs in order to properly understand what services s/he might need, having an IEP does not affect the acceptance of an application or participation in the lottery process. We do need a copy of any current IEP in order to consider your application complete.
Q: My child attends a preschool that isn’t a Waldorf preschool but it is nature-based. Does that count in determining what priority we would have in your enrollment policy? A: Based on information we have about your preschool, our kindergarten teachers decide if a preschool program is sufficiently Waldorf to meet the priority requirements for the “previous Waldorf experience” priority.
Application Requirements Q: I am unable to attend either of your mandatory orientation meetings for those wanting to apply. Is there another way we can meet that requirement?
A: Unfortunately, no. It is necessary for us to provide an equitable system of requirements for everyone who wants to apply.
Q: What should we do if we think our child should be in a different grade than the one expected by your age requirements for each grade? A: Circle both grades on the application form and attach a letter with your reasons. Under rare circumstances, and if a child’s birthdate is close to the cut-off date, we may include your child’s name in both lotteries so that we can make the final decision about placement after the lotteries are conducted.
Q: Can we still apply if we miss the open application deadline, or are unable to attend one of the orientation meetings? A: Yes, we will accept applications for the next year at any time after the open application period. These later applicants will be considered after those on the lottery waiting list.
Q: If we don’t get in this year, do we need to reapply the following year? Yes, our lottery lists are only for the year of application, and a new lottery is conducted every year.
The Lottery Q: Does the lottery include priorities for getting in? A: Yes, our lottery policy gives priority to applicants who are children of employees, siblings of current students, residents of the Twin Hills School District, and children who have been attending other Waldorf schools. For a complete description of our enrollment policies, see that document on our webpage.
Q: If I apply for my two children during the open application period and the first one gets in but the second one is farther down on the lottery list, does my second child now get to move up on the priority list because his/her sibling is now enrolled? A: No, sibling priority status is only given before the lottery is conducted. Once the lottery is conducted and the list is set, that order is followed until a new list is created (usually not until the following year).
Chances of Getting In Q: What are the chances of my child getting in to SunRidge? A: This is impossible to answer since it depends entirely on how many applicants we have for a given grade, and how many spaces we might have available in that grade. We typically enroll around 20-28 new kindergarten students each year, and the number of spaces in the grades can vary from none to several depending on the grade and the year. While we typically have waiting lists for most grades, it is not uncommon for spaces to open up and for those on the waiting lists to be called. The only way to be sure of not getting in is to not apply, so turning in an application is always a good idea even if the chances of getting in seem small at first.
Q: If we aren’t offered a space right after the lottery, is there any chance of getting in before the school year begins? A: Yes, there is a lot of shifting around with new families as many applicants have applied to more than one school, or their enrollment is dependent on a family move to the area that does not occur as planned. Sometimes when we have an available space, we have to call many people on our waiting list to get to someone who is ready to enroll right then, so being lower on a waiting list does not mean you won’t get in.
Pledge Donations Q: I understand that you ask parents for monthly pledges. What is that and why do you need to ask for donations? A: Public school funding is sorely inadequate to fully fund a school such as ours, especially since State funding has been cut severely during the last five years. Even before those cuts, however, we depended on parent contributions to enable us to offer the small school environment and enriched Specialty classes that are integral to a Waldorf-inspired curriculum. Pledge donations provide about 12% of our annual budget, so are absolutely essential to the operation of our school.
Our pledge program has operated successfully since the school opened in 2002. This community effort is designed to get all of our parents to contribute a monthly amount that is based on their ability to contribute. The desired amount for each child is $225 per month, and many parents contribute this amount or more. Many others contribute between $100-$200 per month per child, and some can only contribute as little as $10-$25 per month. Every contribution is needed as it adds to the whole that supports our school. Our parents contribute over $200,000 per year, all of which is spent on the education program for our students.
Q. What if we can’t afford to pledge? A: We ask, and need, our parents to participate to the degree they are each able, as we could not provide the educational program parents want for their children without those “extra” funds. Typically, parent donations vary from $10 per month to over $200 per month so virtually everyone can contribute something. It is understood, of course, that some families are struggling financially and are unable to contribute at all. Pledge donations are voluntary, and are not a factor in the application process.
About SunRidge School Q. Do you offer “Transitional Kindergarten”? A. Transitional kindergarten is a term now used to designate kindergarten for children turning 5 years of age between September 1 and December 2 of their first year of kindergarten. Regular public schools are now required to have a more developmentally appropriate curriculum for these youngest children, and to require them to attend two years of kindergarten. As a Waldorf inspired school, SunRidge has always offered a developmentally appropriate kindergarten curriculum for all our kindergarteners, and we enroll the youngest students (with birthdays between June 1 and December 2) in our two-year kindergarten program. So, yes, SunRidge does offer a transitional kindergarten program, but instead of making it a separate class, we offer two integrated kindergarten classes that include both one and two- year kindergarten students.
Q: Can we, or our child, observe a SunRidge class? A: Because we are a small school, we are unable to offer tours or classroom visits to every interested parent. Our informational events and tours are scheduled leading up to and during our open application period. Once a student is on our lottery or waiting list and is being offered a space (or is close to being offered a space) we encourage parents to observe the class if they would like, and to have their child visit for a day or more to experience the school and classroom first hand.
Q: How “Waldorf” are you? A: SunRidge follows the Waldorf curriculum that is used in other Waldorf schools, both private and public charters. We do our best to remain true to the intent and principles of Waldorf education while also meeting the requirements and accountability standards that are expected of a public school. We see Waldorf education as a living, evolving model, and think the combination of Waldorf and public education can have a positive impact on the evolution of Waldorf education and its accessibility to an ever-larger number of children.
Q: Are your teachers credentialed and have Waldorf certification? A: Our teachers all have California teaching credentials and are also expected to have Waldorf training and experience. Most of our teachers have full Waldorf certification. A few have not quite completed their Waldorf certification program, and a couple of others do not have official Waldorf certification but have many years of training and successful teaching experience in Waldorf schools.
Q: What Specialty classes do you offer? A: For 2013-14 we offered Handwork, Woodwork, Choir, Instrumental Music, Gardening, Games/Movement, Art, and Eurythmy. In our middle school grades we also offer elective and exploratory courses (e.g., courses such as leadership, drumming, costume design, calligraphy, sports, watercolor, etc.).
Q: What is the difference between SunRidge and the Sebastopol Independent Charter? A: It is always best for parents to learn about and make their own judgments about different schools. In general, since our curriculums and methods are basically the same, the differences between the two schools are probably much less than are the similarities. Every school has its own unique culture. Check them out and find the one that is the best fit for you and your children.
For more information, see our website: www.sunridgeschool.org School • 707-824-2844 • firstname.lastname@example.org Rev.2-5-14