Officials with the San Francisco School District are apparently scrambling to lure students to a new Bayview middle school, going as far as considering a plan to allow enrollees the chance to attend whatever San Francisco High School they desire.
According to the Chron, the SFUSD's "state-of-the-art" $54 million Willie Brown Jr. Middle School is set to open next year, but the district fears that just because they built it doesn't mean that anyone will come.
Part of the issue, perhaps, is the school's location. Willie Brown Middle's built at Revere and Silver Streets, on the site of Willie Brown Academy, a school that opened in 1992 as part of the Dream Schools initiative, the New York Times reported. It closed in May, 2011, the victim of notorious levels of "chronic student underachievement and high truancy" as well as "a breakdown in teaching and discipline." It was demolished in 2012, around a year after it was named one of the worst schools in California.
In its place has risen the Willie Brown Jr. Middle School, the previously-mentioned $54 million, 88,000 square foot structure (you can see the building's overview from architects K2A here), which totally doesn't have a name that's easily confused with its infamous precursor's, does it?
Perhaps that's one reason that at this evening's SFUSD board meeting, officials will discuss a proposal allowing students who attend the new Willie Brown to choose their own high school (with some exceptions: School of the Arts and Lowell are apparently off-limits), a move the Chron describes as "a golden ticket," and "something parents could only dream about in the odds-against-you lottery for the city’s most desirable high schools."
“You have to offer something that is so powerful that it can make them disregard the decade of the old Willie Brown,” school board President Sandra Fewer said to the Chron, apparently failing to consider that two ways to do this would have been to build the school on another Bayview site (obviously too late for that now), or to call it something, anything besides "Willie Brown" (still seems like an OK option from over here).
This whole plan has, to quote the Chron, "a whiff of desperation" about it — the paper says that this proposal is coming so late in the lengthy planning process that tonight's vote will be rushed, and that the Board will "introduce the measure and vote on the same night, bypassing the customary first reading and public committee hearings."
Think that the Board's plan is a little more Augustus Gloop than Charlie Bucket? Tonight's meeting is open to the public, and begins at 6 p.m. in the Irving G. Breyer Board Meeting Room, on the First Floor of 555 Franklin Street.
Update: As expected, the SFUSD Board passed the plan, over the objections of "some parents didn’t think a golden ticket was a fair way to dole out high school seats," the Chron reports.