At the end of November, a bunch of parents in the district made a fuss when the deadline came and went for applying for a seat in the Buffalo Public Schools for 2012-13 -- and many people of them weren't even aware that the deadline existed until it was too late.
Many parents complained that the district hadn't done a very good job of getting the word out -- a perennial complaint -- and initially won some sympathy from board members who were inclined to extend the deadline by a couple of weeks.
But then Jackie Ross Brown, the director of student placement, told them that if they extended the deadline, her office would end up delayed in sending out placement letters to families.
Student placement letters this year would go out around Feb. 15, she told them. That was to be about two months earlier than most years.
Most years, the BPS letters went out so late that many parents had already put down deposits at private schools -- so parents who might have wanted to enroll their kids in public schools decided not to, because the system was too slow to make its decisions.
Ross Brown hoped that this year, the BPS letters would go out early enough so parents would get the letters before the private schools' deadlines for submitting a deposit to hold a spot.
"We continually run into some difficulties with private and parochial schools," she said.
Well, it's a couple weeks past mid-February, and I've been hearing from plenty of parents who are wondering why they still haven't received a placement letter from the district -- and want to know when they'll actually find something in their mailbox.
The short answer is: If you haven't heard already, you should get a letter by mid-March, according to district spokeswoman Elena Cala.
As with so many things in the district, the student placement process is quite complicated.
When you get your letter depends on what grade your child is going into, first of all.
Two rounds of placement letters have already gone out to students who will be in high school in 2012-13. The first round -- that of students who were accepted to their first choice -- went out the week of Feb. 9, Cala told me.
The second round -- for high school students getting their second choice -- went out this week, she said.
The third round of high school placement letters will be going out in the next two weeks, according to Cala.
And placement letters for elementary school will be sent out in mid-March.
(One parent pointed out to me that the BPS website finally has some admissions information readily accessible on it -- a welcome development. But, as this parent told me, "it's all about a one-way flow of information -- when I need to get which information to them -- when the tests are, when the application has to be in." Nowhere on the website does the district indicate when the information -- student placement letters -- will flow in the opposite direction, back to parents.)
- Mary Pasciak