Editor’s Note: there will be school tours of the Champaign Unit 4 elementaries as scheduled on Tuesday, Feb. 11. More info on our events calendar.
By Jenny Lokshin
It’s early February, and we should be well into our kindergarten selection process! However, it seems that winter in central Illinois had something else in mind. So my family, like many others that I’ve spoken with, has barely started figuring out our rankings. We’d planned on attending the first community forum at Stratton in January, which was cancelled. This is absolutely understandable, the weather has been crazy this winter and safety is a huge concern. I didn’t want my family out on the roads any more than we needed to be, and Unit 4 said the forum would be rescheduled.
With a couple weeks to go until the Barkstall forum date, I figured I could hit some of the elementary school tours at campuses near my office during the day on January 23…which turned into another snow day. Again, this was perfectly understandable. The weather was pretty awful, and Unit 4 promised to reschedule. We would just put things on hold and plan on attending the next community forum on February 4 at Barkstall. I think you see where this is going.
I don’t blame Unit 4 for the weather. I do, however, wish that there had been a rescheduled forum on the books before the second date was cancelled, and I hope there is a plan to reschedule the second forum. Right now, there is a single event scheduled at Stratton on March 3, with no other date listed. If every parent of an incoming kindergartener plans on attending this forum, it’s going to be packed. I may not get the chance to speak to every school, and I can’t see how the school administrators would have time to spend answering questions for every parent who would like to find out more about their campus.
Also, as it currently stands, now the only forum takes place after all of the scheduled elementary school tours. I’d hoped to attend the forum as a way to figure out which schools we’d like to visit during the open house windows. Now I’ll be budgeting my time to visit places recommended to me by my friends and neighbors, and may miss out on a school that would have been perfect for my kid but I’d never considered because I knew next-to-nothing about it.
I would like to thank the moms and dads who have already gone through the process for stepping up and offering to help the frazzled lottery parents through this winter craziness! It was great to see a couple of moms comment on the ChambanaMoms Facebook post announcing the cancellation of the second forum offering to share their experiences with specific schools, and members of my moms’ group have e-mailed advice to our mailing list to benefit the few of us going through the process this year.
What I hope that the Unit 4 administrators take away from this crazy winter is that it may be a good idea to pre-schedule an alternate third forum date and extra school tour date. I have no idea what this would mean logistically for the district, it may be impossible for any number of reasons. Snow days are unpredictable, but I’d imagine most years they wouldn’t need to use the date. I believe a lot of stress (and calls to the Family Information Center!) could have been avoided if parents already had another option on the books after the first forum at Stratton was cancelled. For now, my husband and I will continue to discuss our options, and start narrowing down the choices for the big K decision.
Jenny Lokshin fell in love with a Champaign townie while studying at the University of Texas, and made the move to C-U with him in 2010 after a decade in Chicago. Mother to Dexter and Nina, she works in higher education marketing at Human Kinetics.