School Stories: Making the “Choice” for Public School

Jill is a single mother living in Colorado with three sons. She works full time, functions as CFO, maid, psychologist, chauffeur and coach, and specializes in maximizing her income through smart, careful budgeting and cost-saving strategies. Her humor and frugality play out at Single Mom on a Budget.

How old is your child(ren) and do they require special accommodations in school?

Jonesie is 7 years old and I have two older boys (15 and 16) in high school. None of them have required special accommodations. This year, however, Jonesie tested in the 97th percentile on the COGAT (Colorado gifted and talented) so some type of academic accommodation will be required from here.

Which school did you ultimately choose?

We “choiced” Jonesie into Semper Elementary School. Jefferson Academy (Charter school) was our first choice, but they do not have a before/after school care program.

Do all of your children attend the same school? Why did you make that choice?

My older boys both attended a different elementary school when they were younger. And while I believe the boys got a good education, I wasn’t happy with the Principal and had a few other issues. In Jefferson County we have choices so I researched my options.

Jonesie attended a higher end (read expensive) daycare from age one. In addition to having curriculum for the young’uns they also had an accredited Kindergarten program. Because of the set curriculum from such a young age, had we decided to put Jonesie into public school at age 5 he would have been ready to go straight to first grade. We didn’t feel that that was the best option. So we kept Jonesie in the Kindergarten program at the daycare and searched for the best public school option for grade 1.

Semper has proven to be a fantastic decision. Jonesie has continued to stay “ahead of the curve” and it is because the staff recognized the need to challenge him and help him succeed. They do not have a gifted and talented specific program, however since he tested high, they have to provide viable programs for him.

Did you, or would you consider relocating or driving a long way for a school and why?

Luckily Semper is fairly close, but I would not have been able to drive farther than 10 miles for another school simply for single parent reasons – convenience.

Who did you ask for advice and how much research did you do on your school choice?

I did quite a bit of research online and since my older boys went to a different elementary school, I didn’t actually have any personal recommendations on Semper. I believe that this may have been a wise choice because people, by nature, have their own preferences and we all like different “things”. A few people I have crossed paths with don’t have great things to say about Semper, and perhaps those would have swayed me? Personally, I have fantastic things to say about everyone I have been in contact with thus far.

What information made the biggest impact on your decision?

Test scores, overall proficiency, and my gut.

Since Semper just received the 2010 Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award I think my gut led me to the right place.