Frequently Asked Questions
General Admissions & Policy Questions
- How do I start the admission process?
- I was not able to tour the school. Can I still apply? Will I get a chance to see the school?
- I have submitted my online application before the deadline. Can I put my check in the mail or does it also need to be received before the deadline?
- What is the transition like for new students?
- What are your main entry points into the school?
- Do you have priority for siblings, children of staff and alumni families?
- When does the application process begin for my child? Do you have a long wait list for your preschool program?
- Does my child need to be potty trained in order to start school?
- Is your preschool program full time or do you offer partial days?
- Can my child come and visit the school?
- Can my child visit before submitting an application?
- How many middle school students do you accept each year?
- Where do most of your middle school students come from?
- What is Middle School Assessment Day?
- My child needs special accommodations. Can we request to have these accommodations put in place for them during Middle School Assessment Day?
- Where are you located?
- Do you offer morning and extended care?
- What is the average class size and student teacher ratio?
Access and Affordability
- Are there any school events that are open to the public?
- Where do most of your families live?
- What does parent/guardian participation look like at SFS?
How do I start the admission process?
We know that the admission process can be daunting, but one of the benefits of living in San Francisco is that you have many great choices when it comes to schools. This means that your child will most likely end up in a place where he/she will thrive and be happy. Be thoughtful of your choices and keep your options open. Your first step in the admissions process is to attend a school tour or information session. Sign-ups are available online on our website beginning September 1st of every school year. We recommend that you sign up to attend a tour as soon as possible because space is limited. School tours run from September through January.
I was not able to tour the school. Can I still apply? Will I get a chance to see the school?
Yes. You are still welcome to apply after the application deadline. However, all applicants who apply before the designated deadline receive priority consideration. If you are not able to tour the school during the months of October through January, and we feel as though your family is a good fit for one of our openings, we will give you an official tour of the school when we bring your family in for an interview and assessment.
What is the transition like for new students?
All new Preschool 3 students are “phased in” to our program throughout the first weeks of school. All new students, Preschool through Eighth Grade, are also paired with a current SFS family, called a buddy family, the spring before they enter the school. New families are also invited to welcome events and other community-related events beginning the spring prior to entry.
What are your main entry points into the school?
We admit a new class of students at age three and later on in 6th Grade because we expand for Middle School. On average, we have 22 spaces for three-year-olds and 14 spaces for new Sixth Graders. Other openings depend on attrition and space availability.
Do you have priority for sibling and alumni families?
The school does give priority for any open spaces to children with siblings currently enrolled in the school, as well as the children of current staff members. Sibling and staff families must apply by their designated deadline, December 1, for priority consideration. Sibling and staff applicants are still assessed to ensure that the SFS program is a match.
The school values partnership and an understanding of the school’s mission and values. The relationship that exists with alumni and legacy families is valued and taken into consideration as as part of an application, but these applications are considered in the main applicant pool, with no special application deadline or process.
What is your birthday cut-off?
We require all of our three-year-olds to be three on or before September 1 of the year they wish to enroll. The same applies for our four-year-old program (i.e., four years old on or before September 1st) and our five-year-old/Kindergarten program. We feel it is important to be consistent on this rule and do not make exceptions.
When does the application process begin for my child? Do you have a long waitlist for your preschool program?
Unlike some other preschool programs, we simply ask that you apply the year before you wish to enroll your child. We do require all Preschool parents/guardians to attend a tour and/or open house event the fall prior to their desired enrollment. We assess all applications every year to find families who will be the best fit for the spaces that we have available. All of our applications remain active for two years. Therefore, if you are not offered admission the first time around, you are more than welcome to reactive your application the following year. All we ask is that you update your existing application with any new information that will be helpful to our process (i.e., a new teacher evaluation, if applicable).
Is your preschool program full time or do you offer partial days?
SFS offers only a full time program for our preschoolers. The day begins around 8:45 am and ends at 3:00 pm. We find that the consistency of a full day program is most conducive to the educational success and personal growth of the child.
What is the process for Elementary School admission?
Admission into 1-5th Grades depends on spaces available. Therefore, we are only able to invite a handful of families in for an interview and assessment based on the number of spots we predict will be available for the following school year. Maintaining the balance of class composition is very important to us. Much of how we decide which families to bring in is based on the current class composition. Therefore, if we feel as though your family is a good fit for a specific space, we will contact you in early February for an interview and assessment. All families will receive a letter by early February with an update on your child’s application status. Applicants for 1st-5th Grade are invited to spend time at the school to meet their potential classmates and teachers. Parents/guardians are interviewed on the day of their child’s visit.
Can my child visit the school?
Yes, we offer optional half-day shadow visits for our prospective Middle School students in January and February. Students are paired with a SFS “buddy” in the grade to which they are applying.
How many middle school students do you accept a year?
We expand our grade size for Middle School, which begins in 6th Grade. Therefore, we add around 14 new Middle School students to the 6th Grade every year, increasing the class size to approximately 36 students. Each Middle School grade is then split into two groups in order to retain the low student-teacher ratio.
What is Middle School Assessment Day?
Middle School Assessment Day is just another opportunity for us to get to know your child. We invite all of our Middle School applicants to the school on a Saturday morning for an interview, math assessment, reading and writing assessment, and group activity.
My child needs special accommodations. Can we request to have these accommodations put in place for them during Middle School Assessment Day?
Absolutely. Please contact the Admissions office beforehand.
Where are you located?
We are located in the middle of a family-friendly and wonderfully diverse neighborhood called The Portola. We are just south of Bernal Heights, east of Glen Park and just blocks from the historic Alemany Farmer’s Market.
Do you offer morning and extended care?
Yes. Morning care begins at 7:30 am and extended care ends at 6:00 pm. We offer a variety of after-school programs. An indexed rate is available for families who are a part of our indexed tuition program.
What is the average class size and student teacher ratio?
The student teacher ratio is 9:1 for Preschool/Kindergarten through Elementary School. The Preschool consists of classrooms with 22-24 students and three teachers in each classroom. The class size for our Elementary School – Grades Kindergarten through 5 – is approximately 22 students with three teachers in Kindergarten and two teachers in 1st - 5th Grades. We expand for Middle School beginning in 6th Grade by increasing the grade size to 36 students. Each grade is then split into two cohorts of 18 students so that the small student/teacher ratio is retained.
Access and Affordability
What does tuition cover?
Tuition for Preschool and Elementary School covers the regular school day including all snacks and a home-cooked hot lunch (Elementary School does not provide lunch on Friday). All over night trips, performances, and special events are also part of tuition. Middle School tuition does not include lunch, but it is available for an extra fee via an outside vendor.
Does the school have different types of payment plans?
Yes, we have three different types of payment plans. Tuition can be paid in full with one payment or can be broken up into four payments or 10 payments.
Do you provide lunch?
We provide a healthy snack and lunch for all students Preschool through Fifth Grade. Middle school students are required to bring both a snack and lunch daily and we partner with an outside vendor that delivers lunch for families who wish to purchase it.
Are there any school events that are open to the public?
Yes. We have several school events that prospective families are more than welcome to attend. The first is the Back-to-School Picnic and Field Day which takes place in September. The second is our Holiday Plays which take place in December. All events are posted on the calendar portion of our website. Please check it periodically during those months to find details about these events.
Where do most of your families live?
Most of our families live toward the southern end of the city: Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Glen Park, Excelsior, Portola, Ingleside, etc. However, we do have families who live further north in Pacific Heights as well as farther south in Pacifica, Burlingame and Millbrae. Many of our families live in San Francisco and commute to the Peninsula or South Bay for work and find the location of our school very convenient for drop-off and/or pick-up.
What does parent/guardian participation look like at SFS?
We are a community-minded school that relies heavily on parent/guardian participation and volunteerism. Since tuition does not pay the full cost of a child’s education at The San Francisco School, all families are expected to participate in the Annual Fund and in periodic campaigns for capital improvements at a level consistent with their capability. This participation is key to maintaining moderate tuition and an economically diverse student body. In addition to voluntary financial contributions, parent/guardian participation is essential to the overall functioning of the school. We expect all school parents/guardians to be personally involved as volunteers in a capacity appropriate for their interests and skills.