Cook Wissahickon School - This year
We have a little kid who will be entering kindergarten in the fall, and one of the schools we are considering is Cook-Wissahickon.
I've done some searching here, and the reviews tend to be positive, but everything I've seen was posted before the most recent round of School District budget cuts, and I'm wondering how things have gone there since September. Or what the outlook is going forward, with even more budget cuts looking likely.
I like the principle behind public schools, but on the other hand, entrusting my child's education to the vagaries of the dysfunctional and despicable School District of Philadelphia is something that I'm not sure I'm comfortable with.
Does anyone have any comments about the school in general, or the kindergarten program in particular? Especially this year?
My comments are a bit vague, but one of my back up babysitters works there now (and one of my close friends was a teacher there for several years and although she's left, she still is there for special projects a couple of times a week). Last time I saw my back up sitter I asked her how things were and she said they had settled down a lot since her fears at the beginning of the year. She had been very concerned but feels like the school has rallied and is still a special place.
Definitely don't take that as sufficient feedback, but it's initial positive perspective.
My child is a student at Cook-Wiss. It's still a quality school. There's a solid group of parents who are active in the school. The students perform well on standardized tests. And, many students are from the neighborhood. However, I'd be lying If I said I was 100% satisfied with the school. Budget cuts have eliminated teaching and other positions at the school, leading to increased class sizes. Lack of money is so bad, that parents are donating student supplies AND office supplies.
My opinion of Cook-Wiss. is still high. However, I have very little confidence in the School Districts ability to cope with budget cuts. While I believe in a strong, well-funded public school system, I will be applying to a charter school for next year. If my child is accepted, I'm not certain I will accept. But, because of the school districts awful financial situation, I want to keep my options open.
That has actually been common in district schools for a long time. For schools that serve communities with less funds, its usually the teachers and administration that supplement. I would not take that as a significant sign as to the school's financial health.
Originally Posted by Nick19128
ETA: Also Cook-Wissahickon parent Rebecca Poyourow has been a really impressive advocate and organizer in response to the budget cuts. I would encourage anyone considering the school get on her mailing list so as to help contact legislators etc.
Last edited by annie; 01-30-2012 at 11:33 AM.
This is very helpful information - thank you all.
All three of my children attend Cook Wiss. We made the switch a few years ago, pulling my oldest daughter out of a private Friends school so that she could actually be in a neighborhood school with her friends (we found the commute to Germantown every day prohibitive for play dates and after school sports teams as did a number of our neighbors).
We're really happy with Cook Wiss. For the most part, I think the teachers and staff are excellent. We're fortunate in that we have a supportive group of parents who have helped fill in the gaps when needed (after school art programs, clubs, etc.).
The budget cuts have been painful but as has been pointed out, there's a great group at the school who have continued to be great advocates. Despite the cuts - and too many kids in some classrooms - Cook Wiss continues to excel. Our latest SPI (school performance index) score was a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the highest. That makes us a Vanguard school, joining the ranks of Meredith, Penn Alexander and Central.
We have made sacrifices at our school in order to keep things as normal as possible for the kids. Like other schools in the City, we've raised money to retain staff even as we continue to lose admin and staff. Parents have spent hours painting and cleaning and helping keep the campus neat. We do fundraisers so that our kids can take trips to shows at the theater and tour museums. But on the plus side, those things are still happening.
So could things be better? Yes. Sadly, though, despite the emphasis on the SDP's budget crisis, the overall budgets for public schools in PA have been slashed resulting in programs (especially music, arts and programs for the gifted) across the state. Some districts have been hit more than others, depending on their fiscal health before the cuts (which is why, of course, SDP is in the state they're in). But we fight on even in the midst of all of that. Cook Wiss was the #1 most represented school across the state at the Rally for Education in Harrisburg - we sent over 200 students, parents and teachers.
Despite the cuts, despite disappearing programs, I don't question my decision to make the move to Cook. My kids are happy and they're performing well (they're even taking language courses at home through Rosetta Stone, made possible through a deal at the school). Do I wish that they had more offerings? Of course I do. But when my 5 yr old gets up first in the household almost every day because he loves his kindergarten teacher so much... when the nurse calls to tell me that my 9yo is sick but "really doesn't want to leave school"... when my 7yo clearly holds her own when talking books and reading with the girls in her dance class who go to private school... I know we've done the right thing.
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