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Castro Valley Schools

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Castro Valley Schools


April 2005

We are planning to move south of the immediate Berkeley/Oakland area (to get my husband closer to his South Bay job), and would like to hear from parents in San Leandro and Castro Valley about their experiences with the public schools in both communities. We are drawn to San Leandro's neighborhoods and diversity, but are concerned about the relatively low school test scores, and the reports (from a friend who teaches in the SL schools) that San Leandro has the lowest teacher salaries and highest class sizes in Alameda County. Castro Valley schools have better scores but the town is a bit further away from our work and friends, and seems less diverse and interesting as a place to live. We are struggling with how to weigh all this, but schools are definitely an important piece of the mix for us. For parents with kids in school in either community (especially in elementary school), how satisfied are you with the public schools? How motivated are the teachers and administration? What do you wish you had known before you started your kids there? Any specific school recommendations you'd like to pass along? Thanks in advance for any advice and perspectives.


As a mom with two children, I would definitely encourage you to consider Castro Valley. Overall, we have been really pleased with the quality of education, the active parental involvement (especially at the elementary level), and the many wonderful teachers. You might try going to some of the parent Open House events (www.cv.k12.ca.us and click on district calendar) coming up this spring to get a feeling of which schools seem most comfortable to you. You go to your neighborhood school in C.V. generally, so this is important in the home buying/renting decision. As for the issue of diversity, Castro Valley is a more divese and less conservative place than when we first moved here 15 years ago -- the town's demographics are changing considerably. Again, being a bit of a research nut, I suggest you look at the school profiles (on the CV school district website, click on the link to a specific school and look at the School Accountability Report Card for more data than anyone needs). Frankly, I'm glad to live in a community where they are dealing with these issues head-on, painful as this can sometimes be, rather than pretending they don't exist. While we moved here for the commute, bigger house for the $ (back then!) and good schools, I found I really like the small town feeling and green space/parks as well. --good luck with your decision
October 2002

Hi. I know that most of you are in the Berkeley area, but now and then I see some from the Hayward/Castro Valley area (where I am). I was wondering if anyone can make kindergarten recommendations about the following schools in the Castro Valley area (I'll be sending my 4 year old son to kindergarten next September.) I'm interested in the ''scores'' and academic rating those schools have, but most importantly, I'm more interested in how parents have found the school to be community/family-orientated, parent- involved, PTA, diversity, involvement/availability in nature activities/programs, and availability of sports programs/pee- wee/little league teams. I'm also interested in hearing about the principal of each school, because I've heard that's who sets the general tone/feel sometimes. And if you have anything to say about the kindergarten teachers, that'd be very helpful! Thanks so much! -Islena.


I can't speak for all the schools in CV, they're all pretty good, but I can tell you about Palomares. All of my children have gone there. Three have ''graduated'' and one is still there in second grade. It is a great school. It is a family. The small school atmosphere is what makes it so great. There are four classrooms and a library/Kindergarten room (K, 1, 2, 3, and 4/5 mix). Your child will eat outside in the fresh air every day. There are thirty acres, hillside trails, a creek and an upper field. A really great parents club (they don't call them PTA anymore). There are activities that you will never find anywhere else. I'll list them: a huge get together before school starts to see everyone else again, almost the whole school shows up and the kids run around like crazy laughing and playing while the parents all talk; a Halloween parade; a Thanksgiving feast; a trip to the rodeo; a Watershed Festival that the county sponsors with environmental booths, creek and hill walks; a camp out at school with a talent show (At the campout, the kids all stay up late and have a blast while the parents sit around the fire and talk and play music); Animal day/nature day where people bring in horses, birds, snakes, etc.; and a real graduation ceremony on the outdoor stage. The Parent's club has done most of this over the years. We have a very strong sense of tradition. We celebrated our 125th year a few years ago and lots of alumni showed up to enjoy the big party. The small school give you the sense of belonging to a group. The kids remember everyone who went there. My wife knows the name of every child in the school. We know a lot of the kids since before they were born. It is really about accountability. If a child acts up it gets noticed, not lost in the crowd. If someone needs something, people come together and help. If you want to join a school, not just attend one, then go visit Palomares. You have to go by the old school where the kids did archeology work, cross the one lane bridge over the creek and through the trees to get to the school. Visitors get noticed and someone will ask if you need help, and they will help you. The teachers are environmentalist and artists. The curriculum is demanding as in all the schools these days. There are a lot of field trips and overnight trips to nature areas in the state. I've been on lots of them and love them. There is a fifty foot slide built into the hillside. New playground equipment. We don't do too well in the track meet against the big schools because we don't have enough people. We have birds flying overhead, deer in upper field, fox and other animals that come in. It is a great place. Go visit and you will be amazed that there are still schools like this in California. As for monoculture: It has a real mix of people from town and people from that school area, which is Palomares Canyon Road (you have to transfer into the school, but once you're in, you're in to stay - if you want). But, I have found that the people I've met from the canyon have really opened my mind and rounded me out. I thought it was great that there were some kids in cowboy boots. They turned out to be some great kids who I really love. Most people are from very different cultures, as in most schools in Castro Valley. Go and look for yourself. Don't skip the chance. It might not be for you but you really owe your child the chance to get in a small school environment. Most people ask if it is a private school. They can't believe it is as good as I say it is. Good luck. The school can be reached at 510 582 4207. Bob
I am a teacher in Castro Valley (not Kindergarten) and I think that all the schools are quality schools. You should know however, that the school your child will attend is based on where you live. If you live in Castro Valley you should call the school district (537-3000)to find out which school is your neighborhood school. You may transfer to another school if space is available and you have to reapply every year. I would be happy to give you more information about each school if you e- mail me. kathryn
Hi. Funny that this topic should come up! I've been working at the Independent School in Castro Valley for a little over a month now.

I'm running their computer lab and I get to work with all the teachers and kids including kindergarten. I'm new to Castro Valley and the school district so what I can tell you is only my experience at the Independent School.

It's a great school no matter what age your child is! The PTA is really well organized and very involved with the school and the children. In fact the PTA president is also a sub. for the district and she has two children in the school.

The prinicpal is fantastic! She really loves the kids and dedicated to making the most of her school. I was surprised at the diversity in the school. I see the breakdown as being primarily asian (different nationalities), latino, white, and african american.

Kids will go straight through from K-5 without ever leaving the school. Parent volunteers bemoan the thought of their kids finishing 5th grade and finding a school as good as Independent.

Please keep in mind these are the opinions of one employee. Beth


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