Lamorinda Public Schools - General Discussions
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Lamorinda Public Schools - General Discussions
We're considering moving through the tunnel for reasons of safety and schools.
Everybody says the Lamorinda schools are great and the reviews on
greatschools.net support this, but I'd like to hear firsthand from parents who
have sent their kids through the system. How big are the typical class sizes at
elementary, jr high and high school levels? Did you feel like there were plenty
of supplemental offerings like art and music throughout? Are there problems with
drugs and alcohol (and/or snobbery/materialism) at the high school level? Please
share what you loved or didn't love about your kids' Lamorinda education.
Yes! The schools are really that great. I have 2 kids at Del Rey elementary in Orinda and
both have had a very positive experience - both learning and socially. This is in part
because the parents supplement the school's budget - between the school fund and the Orinda
education fund (distributed to all Orinda schools) , we cover more than 1/3 of the annual
budget. That means small classes (Under 20 in K, under 22 otherwise), teacher aide in each
class, music K-5, art K-5, PE, computers, math in the school garden, etc. On site after
school programs with supplemental enrichment (including option for after school Spanish
When I say parents support the school, the suggested donation is just over $1000 per
student per year. Not every family can afford this and that is fine - you give what you
can. Some parents have moved their kids from private schools and are happy to give more to
balance those who give less. They are more concerned that everyone gives something rather
than everyone gives a certain dollar amount.
There's less concern for material things in elementary school than middle and high, I'm
sure, but I've found a wide range of family incomes and experiences get along quite well.
Every student is either a little or big buddy to another student every year (depending on
grade level) and when my older child overheard me tell someone this is to combat bullying,
they said with a truly surprised look, ''there's no bullying at our school!'' Kids are
kind, polite, and focused on learning.
Happy Lamorinda family
I went to middle and high school at Acalanes, my brother went to Lafayette and Orinda
schools. (He's 11 years younger, graduated five years ago). I think yes, the level of
education is good. I had some very inspiring, excellent teachers that gave me a real love
of learning. Had a couple duds too, of course. But the lack of diversity really was a
negative, most of the kids I went to school with were extremely sheltered, and in
hindsight, it wasn't the best thing. It was hard not to feel like i had enough money (we
has plenty, but we were never as well off as most of my friends). When I went to my
brothers graduation at Miramonte, I was horrified by the level of entitlement and
superiority. The principal's speech was actually about how they were the cream of the crop
and that they would go out to conquer the world. Nothing about using their privilege for
good, nothing about the responsibility of privilege and excellent education. Personally,
that was the nail in the coffin for us, it for rid of any desire I'd had to move back and
put my kids in that kind of culture.
Been there, not going back.
We may be relocating from the Philadelphia and will be taking advantage of the public
school system. Currently all three of our kids are in private schools. 6th grade boy
at Episcopal Academy (co-ed), 5th grade girl at Academy in Manayunk (school for
learning disabilities, she has Auditory Processing) and 3rd grade boy at Haverford
(all boys school). Despite our daughter having a learning disability we would like to
try public for her first and if that doesn't work out we will find another school for
her. Ours boys are bright and athletic (our daughter is both as well just needs a bit
more help with learning) Our 6th grader plays water polo and all 3 do summer swim
team, play lacrosse & squash (big out here pretty sure not there) We are interested
in getting your advice, experiences, etc...on Piedmont middle and high school and
Orinda middle and Miramonte High school.
We live in Moraga (right next to Orinda), but our kids are younger than yours so I can't
speak to middle school or high school, although both Piedmont and Orinda are known for
their great public schools. I just wanted to comment on your kids' involvement in swim
team and water polo. The swim culture out here (Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek,
etc.) is HUGE. There is at least one year round swim team (Orinda Aquatics) and most
kids (who are interested in swimming) spend the entire summer at the pool on swim team.
Water polo is also big. Four out of the 13 members of the Women's US Olympic water polo
team are from this area. I grew up in SF so this is swim culture is all new to me,
however, I'm almost positive that it isn't as strong in Piedmont.
Also, if you decide to move to Orinda, both the middle school and high schools are very
close to each other, south of highway 24. The traffic each day to school for those
Orinda kids who live north of 24, going south, is pretty bad in the morning. I would
consider looking at houses that are closer to the schools.
I know this doesn't directly answer your question, but thought it might be helpful to
know. Good Luck!
Does anyone currently residing in the Lamorinda area, whose children are
attending the public schools, have any information on the scope of the
projected budget cuts over the next year or two? Have you heard about
increases in class size or elimination of programs? What are the class sizes
currently? I know that families donate extensively to offset some of these cuts.
Specifically, to what extent have any of these school districts been able to avoid
cuts through donations from families in these districts? I am particularly
interested in the situation in elementary and middle schools, and would be
appreciative of any specific information that you can offer, as I contemplate a
The school districts that service Orinda, Moraga and
Lafayette also include Walnut Creek. There are a total of
five districts in the area. With several
of the districts having schools in more than one city each
city has its own Educational funding organization. This
keeps funds donated in the city where they were donated,
and not spread out over the district. From what we've
heard so far, Orinda is minimally affected. The Lafayette
schools were hit a little harder and Moraga I have not
sizes will remain the same, (not increase), and none of
the programs are scheduled to be cut. In
general schools in the city of Orinda will be impacted the
least followed by Moraga, Lafayette and Walnut Creek.
My kids are Junior and Senior at Campo and from my
experience, the lionlike parents there do not allow budget
cuts to affect their kids. Grad night this year, will again
top (well Im embarrassed to say how much) They tried to
pink slip the music teacher and hundreds of us went to the
district meeting and put a stop to that conversation.
How do we do it? Well, it does mean a heck of alot of
popsicle sales, fundraising dinners and organized committees
but the price for going private is far greater. We hardly
feel anything in la la land. Again, I am kind of
embarrassed to say.
If you would like more information about the projected
impact of the state's budget crisis on the Lamorinda
schools, I recommend you check out the website regarding
Measure A (a proposed parcel tax of $112/year). The
website address is: http://aboutmeasurea.org.
If Measure A does not pass, many here feel that the
effects would be devastating. While I believe that is
true, I also recognize that every public school in
California is being adversely impacted by the budget
chaos, so unless you are interested in private schools,
I'm not sure there is any ''safe haven.'' The parents in
this area are passionate about the quality of the
schools. I reflected on that fact today as I spent over
four hours driving and walking to more than 100 houses to
hang reminders to vote for Measure A. Parents are asked
to contribute each year toward the Educational Foundation
of Orinda (many describe our school district as a
public/private partnership) -- I think the recommended
donation is about $600/year per student currently, but no
one says anything if you don't/can't contribute that
amount. Some do less; some do more. Most people feel
like it is a small price to pay to be in one of the
highest performing high school districts in the state; two
of our high schools were ranked in the top 100 in the
country. If you have more questions, I'd be happy to talk
further with you -- (925) 324-6246.
Happy Mom in Orinda
We are looking to move out of El Cerrito and private schools to
the Orinda area to go to public school. We'd love to hear from
people who are in Orinda schools now. We're concerned about
being in a school that's too competitive for our middle
schooler, since she struggles academically. We're also
concerned about no diversity and about being too far from the
Berkeley area. We were originally hoping to rent in Berkeley,
but there's so much more available and at a better price in
Orinda. Thanks for your advice!
Glorietta is a great elementary school in orinda as are all of the schools on
academic level and they have the resources to help struggling kids unlike most
public schools, this is due to the massive parent support financially. My
child is now
in school in Lafayette and as in orinda there is very little diversity. My
half black half white and my son is one of four African Americans in his
one of maybe twenty non whites. We came from a very diverse school in Oakland
and there was a trade off , diversity for education. I suggest classes and
outside lamorinda to balance it out. Good luck!
I thought I would post a reply despite living in Lafayette.
Lafayette is further from Berkeley than Orinda, yet I feel
completely connected to Berkeley. We are 2 stops away from
Rockridge via BART and my husband and I often do datenights in
Berkeley painlessly. I am a Berkeley transplant myself and love
the schools here. I believe that what makes our schools great
in Lamorinda, despite California's current budget challenges, is
that families are 100% behind their children with regards to
education. We make annual monetary contributions to our
schools, but they are small when compared to private school
tuition. Families are willing to contribute in so many ways in
the schools and sports and the children here know that education
is an important stepping stone for them in their lives. You
will pay a bit more for a home here in Lamorinda, but there are
positives beyond the schools. The summer weather is great for
swimming (kids love that), the organized sports are fun for
families, you will feel safe and secure living in Orinda and I
believe there is less congestion day to day here. All of these
things add to my family's quality of life.
Lamorinda is different than Berkeley but great too
We recently moved to Lafayette after many years living in
Berkeley and Oakland. We looked at both Orinda and Lafayette
and ended up deciding both the Lafayette neighborhoods and
schools were a better match for our family. My impression from
both friends and realtors with kids in the Orinda system is that
the Orinda schools are more competitive and intense than some of
the Lafayette schools. Our daughter is at Springhill school and
thus far we've been very pleased with it. She was at an
excellent private school in Berkeley but I haven't found the
education to be as different as one might imagine. They have
art, music, science, computers, p.e. and optional Spanish, and
I've actually found that they do a better job at differentiating
instruction to help kids working at different levels than even
her private school did. I also think they do a better job at
handling issues like social bullying. Diversity is obviously an
weak spot compared to Berkeley public schools, although there
are a few African American and Hispanic families and lots of
Asian families at her school. It's probably not that different
diversity wise than her private school in Berkeley. Springhill
also is one of the better places to be if you have a kids with
ADD or other special needs. Burton Valley has a special GATE
program with separate advanced classes in 4th and 5th grade,
although kids from all over the district are eligible if they
qualify. I really like the Reliez Valley/Springhill area, but
it's a bit more rural feeling than downtown Lafayette or Burton
Valley, so it all depends on your preferences. If definitely
doesn't feel as funky and progressive as Berkeley, but there are
lots of other Prius driving families and a nice farmers market.
I have to admit it's nice not to get our car broken into on a
weekly basis and to feel fine letting our daughter play with
other kids in the neighborhood without constant adult
happy Lafayette parent
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