Manzanita SEED Elementary - recent experiences?

My son will be in Kindergarten next fall and Manzanita SEED in OUSD is one of our neighborhood schools. We've toured the school a couple times, and chatted with some parents, but we're hoping to hear from others about recent experiences at the school (and any associated aftercare).

Some thoughts about who my kid is right now in case anyone who responds has a child with similar traits: he's very physically active and independent-minded; he's a little guy with a swagger; he can be resistant when told what to do unless you give him a rational explanation or you ask him how to solve the problem; he's very sweet and affectionate with a small group of friends to whom he is very loyal; he loves being silly. He'd start school understanding Spanish but not speaking very much.  


Parent Replies

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My son is in 1st grade and entered in Kinder. He is in the EBAYC after-school that is on site. We are an English speaking home with no Spanish exposure (except for neighbors) when we entered. 

Good: Teachers so far have been amazing. My son has loved all his teachers. Ms Saleski for K last year was so great. My LO struggled A LOT with drop off. My partner and I had recently separated so I think that played into his separation anxiety. Ms Saleski came to US with solutions & to partner with us closely to figure out how to support him during the difficult transition. My LO loves his 1st grade teachers as well. 

Academics seem as good as they could be. All lessons are age appropriate & comprehensive. They often have a subject span through reading, writing, math, history, etc. 

Diversity of the school is great. Though we haven't met too many folks in our neighborhood that go.

After-school program is wonderful. My son LOVES Mr Marcel who runs the program. It's SUPER cheap and all staff are good. They incorporate some activities like Soccer for half the group in Fall and the other half Spring. They also focus on doing homework as well. Otherwise, I haven't noticed too many organized "themes" - which would be nice, but I'm ok with it being just play based at this point. 

Whole school is on Free Lunch program, so breakfast is available for those that want it and lunch is free for all kids that don't bring their own. Food seems fairly healthy. My kid likes it but I also had to put parameters around it like: always choose a vegetable and a fruit; plain milk only (no chocolate). 


- Lots of homework. A lot of other schools I toured have adopted a no homework policy. I'm torn. I like knowing what my LO is learning but this year in particular there is A LOT of homework. Huge packets with tons of pages plus a math workbook. We never get through it all in a week but teachers also seem ok with that. It doesn't seem "mandatory" to complete but we just do what we can and don't stress the rest but it does feel like a lot of cramming (which I assume is largely attributed to Common Core standards - ugh)

- Lack of funding. The school is definitely lacking in funds. I toured International Community School and was impressed by the principal there (at the time) that had a lot of experience in grant writing. She was able to leverage that to get "free" funds for the school and donations like tablets and such. SEED does not have this. I don't think there are any computer or tablets available for kid use - not that I've seen in the lower grades anyway. The library has struggled to raise funds to stay open and have equipment, books, etc. Though the librarian - Mr Todd - is amazing and has done so well with the little he has. Fundraising group is getting stronger but we do not meet our goals most of the time. 

- Split community based on language/culture. Hard to fully unite when there is a bit of split between parents based on language/culture, as well as who has time. Lots of working parents so we see each other at drop off/pick up but hard to get to know folks and feel connected otherwise. But I'm probably also not the most social. 

Overall good school and if it's your neighborhood one, I encourage you to attend as it is a GREAT way to make the school better and encourage more healthy and strong public schools in the flats.