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Hello BPN Families, Our family is considering moving to Alameda. I am hopeful to find parents that would give current reviews for Otis, Franklin, and Paden Elementary Schools, as the ones on the BPN archive are from 2008. There appear to be no tours or open houses offered until the January/February kindergarden ''round up'' process begins, and we are trying to find ways to experience each of these schools before we make a move withing the next two months.
Some of our main questions are: What is the school culture like? Are there performing/visual arts integrated into the school day curriculum? Do the children have PE? I've read about overcrowding in older posts. Is that still and issue? For which schools? What is your school's greatest challenge/asset? Any insight on how to visit/tour the schools would be very helpful. Many thanks! Peace- Erin
Our current public school has really punted the ball on issues related to bullying over the past couple years, and we've seen the effect on both of our daughters (not to mention on many other kids at the school). For this and other reasons we're planning a move to Alameda. Ahead of the move we're interested to learn what steps local elementary, middle, and high schools are taking to reduce and respond to bullying as well as less virulent forms of teasing/exclusion. We'd like to hear about any schools that do a particularly good (or not-so-good) job of creating a safe and positive environment for all students, and we'd love to hear from parents of Alameda girls who don't make friends very easily but are having a healthy and socially fulfilling school experience all the same. Thanks for your help. Anon
I believe the other elementary schools have been similar in their approach, but can't say for sure.
Another local resource is the Alameda Parents Network- on Yahoo Groups- and as you get closer to becoming a local, it will be helpful for many topics. happy alameda parent
We may be moving to Alameda and I am interested to hear people's opinions on their public schools, as well as St. Joseph's Catholic school. I have a kindergartner and 2nd grader and want to find a school that has solid academics. Thanks
(Editor) responses were also received for St. Joseph Elementary School
We love Alameda and are considering an in town move since our 2/1 ''starter house'' is getting pretty crowded now that we have 2 kids. One of the things I really value is the ability to use the local, community based public schools. I know that some are better than others. Which do you think are the best in Alameda (94501 NOT 94502)? Are Haight and Washington the only ones to avoid? Does your Alameda school have a great community feeling? Do you think they are gonna close Franklin since it is so small? If it is closed which will it combine with? Many thanks Island parents! jenny
My husband and I are planning to attend open houses for Alameda elementary schools next month. We'd appreciate advice from seasoned parents (AUSD or elsewhere) about what questions we should ask. What would you have liked to know before you enrolled your child in public elementary school? What do we *really* need to know to help us make a decision or get prepared for our local school? Many thanks to all who can shed light on this daunting process! Alameda Mom
My kid is just finishing up at Otis, which was overall a very positive experience. I can't really speak for the other schools but if you are curious, it's worth looking online at the schools' test scores and standing. The biggest indicator is the quality of your child's teacher! There are some teachers at Otis I'd recommend. Others I wouldn't. On the other hand, there are other parents who would disagree with my assessment - we had a very positive experience with a teacher I heard a lot of nasty rumors about.
An important factor is the PTA's activity level. The teachers at Washington are reputedly quite dedicated, but there's almost no PTA activity. Otis has a VERY active PTA which means there are extracurricular activities and educational opportunities not available to some other schools. For a long time, Edison was THE elementary school benchmark. 10 years ago Otis was sort of a dump, but its climate has changed as more young families have moved into the area. Efforts of the garden club, art docents, Art is Education, science docents, and even the Dads' Club have made Otis a more vital, welcoming school.
I think that, particularly if some west end schools are consolidated, it might actually be good for the AUSD student body on the larger scale, where more active parents are spreading their effort amongst a larger pool of students... sometimes inexperienced parents just need a little nudge or guidance from those more active. However, AUSD's budget crisis is such that there WILL be budget cuts again, and likely closures, within the next 3 years whether or not the parcel tax (Measure E) passes. Crowding will be an issue. ... PTA - active parent
I currently live in Oakland Laurel neighborhood with my wife and daughter (20 months). We are considering buying a new house in Alameda and are starting to do some research of the Alameda public schools. From our research up to this point, it seems like the public schools are overall decent, but the better ones have enrollment issues. We would consider paying more on a mortgage to get into a better public school in a better neighborhood, but there are no guarantees. I've also heard of school closures.
We are hoping that BPN members living in Alameda can help with your most recent observations on the public school landscape. Most of the archived info on the BPN website on this subject are a couple of years old. Where is the best place to live in Alameda for schools? Thanks for your help.
Over-enrollment: It is true that some of the schools have over-enrollment issues at this time and so far there is no long-term solution. In the recent past, extra children at Edison have been able to enroll by creating a 4th kindergarten classroom, this has occurred twice so far, and now the school is pretty much out of room. For the upcoming year, they are considering changing the student-teacher ratio to 25:1 instead of 20:1 to absorb the extra few children that signed up for this fall.
School reputation: For what it's worth, some elementary schools are considered more desirable than others... on the main island that would be Edison and Otis, which are east end schools (east of Park Street). Franklin and Lum are also considered pretty good. The two on Bay Farm Island have good reputations as well. What does this mean? Well I would say all public schools in Alameda are good schools. However they are public schools, and parent participation and willingness to create extra programs and make things happen at each school is what makes the difference. Some schools have a greater amount of parent involvement than others. For example, Edison has a very active and involved PTA that provides and funds many school programs and events (Art Docent, Garden Docent, Science Docent, assemblies, field trips, game night, fall festival, etc). Other schools may not have such a wide variety of ''extras'' and may not have the overabundance of volunteering parents (we don't have one room parent, we have 3, we don't have 3 art docents per school, we have 3 per classroom... you get the idea).
Overall I would definitely recommend moving to Alameda, we love how our children go to the neighborhood school and the sense of community it provides. We do pay a higher mortgage specifically to have our children attend the school that they do. There is a pdf map available on the AUSD website with school boundaries if you have not seen it already. I know it's a tricky time at the moment and a bit of a leap of faith due to the recent over- enrollment issues, however so far AUSD has been able to keep families at their respective schools somehow... not sure how this will play out by the time your 20 month old is kindergarten age... however there seems to be some general understanding of the seriousness of the issue. Many people buy homes here in certain areas specifically for the local school so AUSD has tried to keep everyone happy... however funding and space issues are unfortunately very real, regardless of good intentions. Best of luck and hope you find what you are looking for. Alamedan
We are unhappy in Moraga and would like to move to Alameda. I am concerned that I will be doing our two young children a disservice if we move b/c Moraga schools are supposed to be 'the best' which I guess makes Alameda schools 'lesser'. Is there anyone who has made this move, or a similar one? How did it turn out? I don't want to harm my children's future but I can't see spending the next 15 years in a place I dislike. Our older child just finished kindergarten at CP in Moraga and had a great year - but she is very bright and outgoing! and would probably do well anywhere. Still, I have a nagging feeling that I if I were a better parent I would make the sacrifice to stay here and send her to 'the best' schools. anon
As for the elementary schools, it depends where you go. If you move to Harbor Bay you'll get Bay Farm and Earhart which are supposed to be the cream of the crop. Bay Farm was like a 10/8 in API and I'm not sure about Earhart. My take on those schools is that they can be competitive, although you will have a very active parent community. I think Bay Farm raises enough money to give each of its teachers 200 in classroom funds each year and fund a great variety of activities. On the main island I've heard really nice things about Otis, Franklin and Edison. They seem to have a very diverse population of kids, well respected teachers who have been there for years, and a nice community focus. The further west you go, the more you will confront ''Oakland Issues'', which I think is a code for the racial stuff I mentioned earlier. Woodstock is a title I school and struggles with test ! scores every year, but I know some teachers there and they are amazing, dedicated and proud of their school.
As far as Middle School goes, I know Lincoln has pretty good academics but the kids can be quite cliquish. I'm aware there are some principal issues (at one point grieved by her staff over the last two years) but I'm not sure if she's still there. Chipman seems to be the ''diamond in the rough''. They're new principal is extremely well respected and has done wonders with the Math and Language Arts programs. There is apparently some District Math trainer who is working with the teachers to raise test scores in Math and better prepare students for Algebra. He also worked with Hayward and did some good things for them. I believe Chipman has really jumped on board and is seeing positive results.
I'm in the dark about High School.
All in all, Alameda is a nice, safe place to live and is a great place to raise kids. It offers a lot more diversity than I imagine Moraga does and is very child centered. It may not have all the bells and whistles that Moraga does but it graduates some very successful people (as any school district will).
I don't think you're being a ''bad parent'' if you choose to move to a place that makes you happy. If you're happy, you're children will be happy. But you'll do what feels right. Go visit the schools, that's the best way to find out.
BTW, I have a friend who is a teacher and lives in Alameda. That's where I'm getting my info!
We have had great success with the Alameda schools. Paden provides a developmental approach and the teachers are remarkable. You can apply to have your child attend there. One son is currently at Lincoln and is doing well. Lincoln has a huge nature area along the bay where students learn science. The band program has been great for my son, and the music teacher inspires him daily. My older son had a good experience at Wood Middle School Academy. It is a small school within a school. Currently he attends the Alameda Community Learning Center. Both schools addressed his special needs and are very supportive. Patti
Does anyone have information to share about Alameda Public Elementary Schools? Danielle
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