After an exhaustive and exhausting school search, and an additional exhausting soul search, we chose to send our eldest to a private school for Kindergarten. It was not my first choice, nor my second, but those two were charters on which we're 100+ on the waiting list. It was, literally, the last school of the 10 I visited.
It had only 1 of the 4 "wants" on my list, making it 1 more than most schools I visited. (Only one school had 2: one of the charters we're wait listed at.) (The 4 wants were: 1) half day, 2) use phonics, 3) use Singapore Math, 4) have recess in addition to lunch recess.) They use Orton Gillingham to teach phonics. But they do have music, art, gym, library, and an ice rink, with ice skating for the kindergarteners. Still, I wanted to believe. They have been working with MSMI, and they have some very experienced teachers. The kindergarten teacher we wanted had a concrete plan for how to work with our child, who reads anything you hand him, does arithmetic already, etc. etc. And the principal, when I asked him "what will you do for our son?" answered "I don't see why we don't do whatever you want".
What sealed the deal was that they were conveniently located near 2nd child's preschool, and ended at 3:00 pm, allowing me to pick up 2nd child from preschool between 3:15 and 3:30. The preschool is outstanding, and I was not going to deny 2nd child this preschool for such mediocre kindergarten options.
But then two weeks ago, I got an email from the school, a welcome letter. In it, in small print at the bottom, "this year, class ends 10 minutes later, at 3:10. 10 minutes more instructional time a day translates into ...."
I read this at 3 AM, at the height of sleep deprivation due to the newborn 5 week old. Needless to say, I was irrational. I burst into tears. I could not for the life of me figure out how I missed that school was ending at 3:10. I'd only visited 4 times, had a dozen conversations with admissions folks, met the principal 3 times, met the K teacher twice, been to the kindergarten readiness day with the asst principal, read all of the paperwork for admission, read all of the paperwork for acceptance and payment. Right then and there, I blasted off a short email to the principal, telling him that I didn't know how I'd been uninformed about this, but I couldn't possibly have our son enrolled unless I could find a way to pick him up at 3, and that even a ten minute change was devastating to us.
He wrote back that he would find a way to accommodate me. I calmed down for a while, though how we'll manage I still don't know.
But today, I met the Kindergarten teacher, and explained my predicament. She told me that she appreciated my problem, because *the staff returned from summer break to find this change in the school day too*.
I didn't miss it. It was never mentioned in any of the prior interactions, because they consulted no one. No parents. No teachers. Not even the pretense of focus groups asking our opinions. No, the principal and asst principal thought it best to solve a non existent problem and add 10 minutes to the end of a day to "increase instructional time", so they did.
They do what they do.