Thanks to everyone who replied to my frustrated vent a few days back....I spent the last several days visiting and talking to several school choices in our area for DS6 for First Grade. We homeschooled for K and then a few weeks ago, he asked about trying school again.

My husband and I were really disappointed in our choices here..I don't know if it is just because we have such high expectations or what. I think part of it for me is because I saw this amazing school in Tampa (2 hours away) that was sprawled across this beautiful tree lined lot with gardens the kids planted, artwork/paintings everywhere on the outside, was hands-on project based learning and just this inviting, creative atmosphere. Now when I go look at places, I get so bummed out when I see old, cracked buildings that look stark and rundown. And that is all we pretty much saw from some of out choices.

We narrowed our choices down to 2 and neither are stellar....one is just a plain old, local elementary school - the one that we are slated for in our neighborhood and is 5 minutes drive so I could come eat lunch with him every day to solve the SPD problem he has of not being able to handle the lunchroom noise - we can eat outside together and I can volunteer all the time since it is so close. It is a very good school in a very good area with very involved parents/families. The problem is that it is overcrowded and class size will be between 18-26 and there is a very high chance he would just become a number. The teacher choice will be what makes or breaks this and the principal is a real pain in the neck(I used to teach in the county and he has a reputation for being abrasive and not so accomodating amongst the staff/parents). My son's OT and Speech teacher are there and he has been going to that school for IEP services for 2 years so he knows the building. They don't offer any kind of acceleration (they frown on it)but does have the typical one day a week/3 hour gifted pull out and with his SPD issues, he gets overwhelmed walking down the halls sometimes when he goes for services so I don't know how he will handle a busy classroom. Any friends he makes there will all be in driving/neighborhood distance so he could have some local buddies. They have a library and computer lab and lots of after school programs like robotics, oddysey of the mind...

The other choice is a small school that is about 35 minutes drive. It is a Charter school and has no more than 14-18 in a classroom. The principal sat and spoke with me for over an hour and I got a really good vibe from her. She knew exactly which 1st grade teacher he would mesh with when I told her he is an out of the box kid and shared all the info about him. She said there would be no issues with acceleration/going to 2nd grade for reading/math. She shared how she does not like the FCAT test and that she prefers to look at a student's overall school work for the year. She said she would be very flexible with a possible trip we have planned at the holidays to New Zealand to see my parents and that she would have no problem writing excused absenses if our trip needed to go over (said - he would probably be learning more on that trip than what he could be learning if he was in the classroom- the other school would not be so understanding). He will be able to get his speech/OT services but there are only 1-2 other children slated gifted in the school so he wouldn't have as many peers he could mesh with gifted wise unlike the public school which has a larger population. Their curriculum is the Core Knowledge curriculum (which I have taught and really enjoyed) and has a lot of project based learning which means less focus on the traditional teacher lecture and then follow with a workbook (which the other school will be). It is farther away which means I can't come for lunch every day (they eat outside though...no cafeteria and they also have no library or computer lab) and any friends he makes may be a distance away for play get togethers or hangouts. Limited after school programs

So we are stuck with a school that is close,not so flexible, regular public school or a school that is a bit of a drive and is flexible. Both have good and bad points. Husband and I spoke and said if we could eek out this school year in one of these public schools then he would be eligible again for the McKay Scholarship here in Florida (IEP students-if after a year of public school you are not happy then the state will give you the cost the public school would have gotten for our child and we can take that money and go attend any school of our choice). There is an amazing private school an hour away that is just unreal but is more money than we can afford. But give a year, he will be more mature, more able to deal with the hour drive and the tuition would be covered by the McKay. The video of their school is a gifted parents dream
http://www.thewillowschool.org/video.html

So, would love to hear any comments/suggestions about our 2 choices we have.


Edited by Belle (07/08/09 08:40 AM)