Editor’s note: this is the third in a series by a parent going through the Champaign Unit 4 kindergarten registration and lottery process. To see the first two installments:
Lottery Mom: Opening Remarks
Lottery Mom: Process of Elimination
Our registration materials are in, and the only thing left to do is wait. After spending the last couple of months attending forums, going on tours, talking to teachers, administrators, and every single parent I know (and several I don’t know), we have made our decision. I’m still feeling unsure about it, but I’m trying to tell myself that Mary Ella will be perfectly fine no matter where she ends up.
Truthfully, she would probably be successful anywhere. We are incredibly active, involved parents, and this kid already has a personal library larger than most adults. (Trust me, we’ve actually cataloged her books – it’s ridiculous.) So though I know it’s perfectly natural to stress the heck out about her schooling options, I’m going to try to take a step back and just trust that everything will work out.
Thankfully, I’m about to leave town for a few days, so I should be able to relax and put all of this out of my mind (at least until the week the letters are due).
I do want to thank the staff of Unit 4 for being so incredibly patient and accommodating. I really didn’t want to be a nuisance, but I had so many questions! I’m sure I’m not the first parent to pepper the principals and teachers with endless questions, but they all made me feel welcome, and were eager to share the great things going on at each school. I would like to give a special shout out to Stephanie Stuart, for helping talk me through my decision-making process, and for organizing a last-minute tour of one more school on the last day, when I decided to move a different school up to the top three.
I was especially impressed with the process of actually registering. The room set up for registration at the Family Information Center was very comfortable, and I loved having the ability to sit down at a table with Choice staff. Though our daughter wasn’t with us for this part, there were plenty of other families with kids in tow, and the set up in the room was very kid-friendly, with a great play area on one side. Before registering, I was picturing standing in a line and having to talk to a staff member at a window. I’m so happy that wasn’t the case!
We did end up changing our rankings on the last day, after taking a look at the dashboard, and asking Choice staff to estimate the number of sibling and proximity priority folks who had ranked our favorite school number one. I was really appreciative of the amount of time they spent helping us, and the amount of information they were able to give us. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! Though even they couldn’t tell us what to do when our closest proximity school had so many families choose it as number one. Even with proximity, the numbers are so high, that it’s far from a guarantee, especially since this is our oldest child (so no sibling priority).
And though our original first choice had far lower numbers, it is not a proximity school for us, and it’s very likely that it will fill on the first round with sibling and proximity families. So, we made the best choice we could, given the information at hand, and will now just hope for the best.
I should make it clear that though we definitely have preferred schools, mostly based on a combination of bell schedule, logistics (close to either home or work), and the overall feel for the school, there wasn’t a single school we visited that I would consider “bad” in any way. We ranked all 12 schools, and I think that if we were to be placed at our third, fourth, or even fifth choice, we could be very happy as a family.
Now to go get some sun, and think about something else for a while.
Katie Blakeman is a proud townie, married to Champaign City Planner T.J. Blakeman. Katie and T.J. consider themselves the Champaign welcome wagon, telling everyone they know how awesome it is to live in Champaign. Mother to Mary Ella and Juliana, Katie also serves as the Champaign County Circuit Clerk.