Lafayette Public Schools (Lafayette, CA)
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Has anyone had the issue of not getting into your neighborhood
elementary school as a new resident at Lafayette? What has the
district office been telling you about the process for redirecting and
process for placement? It seems to me that the district office has
created a permanent problem of overcrowding the neighborhood schools.
I was told that they consider all inter-district (inter-neighborhood
transfers), redirected students of past years who decide to stay in
their non-neighborhood schools and redirected student's siblings AHEAD
of new enrollments in the neighborhood. If you think about it, new
students are considered last. I've heard that almost all new students
in my neighborhood almost never get into our neighborhood elementary
school at first. Has anyone else experienced the same problem? If I
call the school district office, I can't get a straight answer about
how these decisions are made. -lafayette mom
I've actually had the opposite experience and i'm going to guess you are in the
lafayette elmentary school district.
My story: moved to lafayette from oakland a year ago. moved into the downtown
neighborhood; registered by son at lafayette elementary. We recently closed
on a house in the happy valley district. We really wanted to keep our son at
lafayette elementary but were told we could not because lafayette elementary
has a long waiting list of in-district students. So we got the boot. I'm
guessing that may be in part because our son was registered but had not started
yet (he starts kindergarten soon).
That isn't my understanding of the policy. I thought if a child was redirected
and choose to stay at their school, then their siblings would not have priority
at that school but rather at their home school.
Nevertheless, if your understanding is correct, then I can understand that
policy too. If a child is redirected, then they are sent to another school that
is further from their home. They didn't have a choice in this matter. If, in
time, they choose to stay at that school, then there is a good chance that the
parents would like any subsequent children to also attend the same school. The
school district probably understands how hard it is on families to be split up
I will tell you about my experience. We live walking distance to Lafayette
Elementary. When we moved to Lafayette this past spring, neither of my two
children got into our local school. It was very upsetting and frustrating.
Fortunately both were redirected to the same school, Burton Valley (there was
no guarantee that they would be placed at the same school).
One of my children got into Lafayette Elementary after one month at Burton. At
this point, I had kids in two different schools and that was challenging. With
all the extra driving and coordinating, I didn't have a lot of extra time or
energy to get involved in either school! I'm sure this is what the school
district wants to avoid if they are trying to keep siblings together.
My second kid got into Lafayette Elementary this summer and will be a new
student there in the fall. We loved Burton, but felt that walking to school and
attending with our neighbors was the right choice. The round-trip commute to
Burton twice daily took close to an hour and that was also a big factor in our
decision to move schools.
Good luck and hang in there. Even if you didn't get your home school upon
enrolling, chances are you'll get a call this year with a spot. A neighbor of
ours was redirected to Springhill and she too got a spot at Lafayette this
Walking to school now!
We're planning to move to Lafayette with a first grader
and a third grader. The home we are considering is near
one of the four schools in Lafayette, but I've heard that
some of the grades may have no space. I've called the
school district to enquire and they can tell me nothing.
An acquaintance told me that if our neighborhood school
was full, that we'd be sent across town to Burton Valley
(of course this is a great school too, but just far from
where we would be living).
I was wondering if anyone can share their experiences
about getting their children into their neighborhood
school. Was it easy? Did you have to wait for a while? If
you had only one child accepted, would you split them up
into two different schools and hoped that the second would
eventually find a place? Does everyone eventually get into
the school that they want to attend? Any suggestions or
advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Excited but nervous
Our son was in the first grade last year when we went
through this. We moved midyear to an area in the Lafayette
elementary zone. They told us there was no room but they
could send him to BVE down the road AND there was no
guarantee that he'd even be moved to Laf. Elem. in the 2nd
grade. We had no other choice so he went to BVE. After only
two weeks at BVE they had space for him at his home school.
We were not quite sure what to do because in just those two
short weeks he found quite a strong support structure at
that school, and his first grade teacher was awesome. They
actually told us he could stay at BVE if we wanted, all the
way thru fifth grade, because they were the ones that placed
him there. They made it clear that if we didnt' move him
then, he still might not get in to Laf. Elem. for 2nd grade.
I think that's a very slight chance. I think they just say
that in case the numbers are too high. Anyway, we moved him
to the new school after 2 weeks, and while it sucked at the
time, he flourished in his new class and is now having a
great 2nd grade year (only 3 days into in now though). Also,
the numbers in the district are not as high as they thought
this year, because I have two friends who are trying to get
their kids in the district through the Allen Bill. At first
the superintendent denied all Allen Bill applicants because
he had promised the parents low enrollment. But on Friday of
last week (Aug. 27th) both my friends were given the option
to enroll their kids in the district.
Hi - We just moved to Lafayette last year and our son just
started kindergarten. I think its pretty rare not to get
your neighborhood school in general, but this year, class
sizes are up to 24 kids and I know certain schools have
reach their maximum for K - Burton valley being one of
them. I have a friend who teaches at the school but lives
outside the district and her son was not able to go to
burton valley because it was full. I think springhill was
not full. At any rate, all the schools seem very good. we
do the drive to burton valley everyday from the other side
of town and it is about 20 minutes each way.
trying to help
It's true that the local neighborhood school may or may not
have a spot when you first move, but usually a spot will
open up within a year or less. When we first moved there
was no room in the neighborhood school for our first grader,
but a spot opened up midyear and we took it. Burton Valley
is the largest school, but is not always the overflow, since
they try to rotate the overflow school. We found the
district was pretty helpful working with us, and all four
elementary schools are excellent. Our two daughters are at
Springhill, and would be happy to let you know more about it
if you are interested.
My family is considering moving to Lafayette for more challenging
schools for our kids. Our daughter is in 1st grade in a Berkeley
public school and the curriculum is just not challenging at all
for her. She spends much of her day waiting for the other kids to
finish their work, as her teacher does a lot of direct
instruction. Her reading and mathematics skills are far above
grade level and she is sort of out on her own with that. We've
heard that in the Burton Valley school they have a good GATE
program, while Berkeley's GATE program is basically nonexistent.
We'd be interested to hear if other families have found the
Lafayette schools to be challenging enough for kids who are
working one or two grade levels above.
Also how are the arts integrated into the day in Lafayette
schools? Berkeley talks a lot about valuing the arts, but I don't
see that at all this year in my daughter's classroom.
Pondering a Move
Our family moved over from Berkeley through the tunnel and have
had mixed feelings. Yes the schools are a lot better then Berkeley
but thereC-s more to it then that. Every year we are expected
to pay $1,200 to $1,500 to the educational foundation, then
thereC-s the school auction, the sports boostersC- dinner and
other ways the Parent's club extract money to supplement the
schools. (After a few years of paying we found our kids were
not benefiting from the money we pay. Schools out here take
the Gate students and use them to teach the C,No Child Left
BehindC. students so No Child Get's ahead either. This policy
is having a devastating effect on my daughter. We have hired
tutors to teach her to keep her challenged. The school is mad
at us for doing that and want her to skip a grade.
It's a lot different out here. So many of the parents drive the
humongous gas guzzlers and look at us like we are crazy for driving
small fuel efficient vehicles. I don't have the need to wear designer
clothes or color my hair which seems common out here.
My kids have had a hard time too. Seems like lots of family's
move here who can't afford and move out after a year or two.
As a result my daughter has to make new best friends every year
or so. I can't wait to move somewhere where money, blond hair
and designer clothes don't make the friends.
-I can't wait to move back to Berkeley
Re: moving to Lafayette for the schools. Both my children have
completed 6 years in the Lafayette elementary schools, and are
both now attending the middle school. You should know that the
GATE program is invitation only to children who score EXTREMELY
well on the OLSAT test, administered in 3rd grade. It is a total
of about 15-20 kids (so just a couple from each of the four
schools) who are invited to attend the pull-out 4th-5th grade
class at Burton Valley. On the other hand, the teachers do try
to do differentiated instruction (to varying degrees of success),
and there are things like challenge math and spelling groups.
LASF (Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation) comes into each
classroom several times a year with wonderful art and science
programs at each grade level, and some of the art the kids do is
quite amazing. I believe all of the schools have an art show at
the end of the school year to display special works that the
children have done. Of course, we are asked to financially
support LASF, as well as each school's parent's club to help make
these programs possible. Hope this information helps.
My son is also in the first grade too, and we live in Lafayette.
We just moved here last year for better public schools.
For academical challenge, you may want to compare, for example,
the homework in your school and also here in my son's class,
and see if you feel that is challenging enough. I cannot tell you
if it is more challenging than the schools in Berkeley, but
at least at our son's school, they have done evaluation on
his reading and math at the beginning of the school year.
The homework just started since the lastweek.
He brings back the books to read based on the level that
he was evaluated at. They are also doing sight words based on
there level too. So,,, in terms of reading, I see some teaching
differentiation there. About math, I unfortunately don't know
much about the differentiation teaching in the class room, and I
don't see it either in math homework, but we supplement his
math at home greatly, since he loves it so much.
About math, my older son's 4th grade class room had math table
every Friday. Kids in similar math level got together at each
tables, parent volunteers were assigned there to let them do
some math activities suitable for their level. I believe the 5th
grade class is also doing the same thing.
About GATE program, the kids have a standard test at the end of
3rd grade. If your child scores very high, (I believe,,,
at 99 percentile), your child is invited to do GATE program.
I heard it is not a mandatory, so you can choose to stay with
a regular program, or move onto GATE.
You may want to speak to PTA president too to get the feel of
the community. I don't know if that is possible, but that is
what I did when we were trying to decide where to move or to stay
in El Cerrito. I spoke with a member of PTA in Madera Elementary,
and they provided lots of information about the school.
All being said, I feel the best person who can give tailored
academical education is you. You are the best person to
know her strength and weakness, and also where her interests
(both academical and non-academical) will lie. There are
so many online websites with interesting word, math, and science
games that you can print out for her. That can be a great thing to
do just for fun on weekends.
newbie mom in Lafayette
Well, I'm not sure what you are expecting, but the GATE program
only accepts students who test into it based on the OLSAT test
in 3rd grade (it is a 4th/5th program at Burton Valley. If
your child attends one of the other 3 schools they would have
to switch. My child is top of their class, but the
differentiation is not as good as I would like. There were
many very bright kids who didn't test into GATE. My impression
from our school is that they offer the GATE which very bright
students who are not gifted don't really get into and they feel
that they have done their job. Having said that my child is
happy and I am basically happy overall - we have had great
teachers nearly every year. I hear that Happy Valley is the
best of the 4 schools and it does have the best test scores.
The schools in Lafayette simply have way more resources than the schools in Berkeley.
They ask all parents to donate about 400 dollars per year per student (and almost all
families do). thus, they have more aides, more programs for kids who are struggling
and more time for differentiated teaching in each direction. Burton Valley is a great
school. I have relatives who go there. But remember, no matter how smart you think
your daughter is, she will still need to test into the gate program. I know a girl there
who works 2-4 levels above grade level in most subjects who is amazingly bright who
didn't test into GATE there. But even then, in the regular class, she is still getting a
great education and lot of opportunities to work at a higher level.
stayin in berkeley
Dear Moving to Lafayette,
It sounds as though you've had a disappointing experience in the Berkeley school
that your daughter attends. Although you didn't ask for advice from other BUSD
parents, here's my two cents worth. Our daughter is in third grade and we put her in
the Berkeley Public Schools midyear during first grade year (she went to a private
school before that). She's also 1-2 years ahead of grade level. Although it's taken a
little effort at times to let the school know what we're hoping for, we've found that
the they have been very responsive. The district actually promises to provide an
appropriate learning environment for all children, and part of that involves flexible
grouping and differentiation. Our daughter has been in reading groups at her level
(with 3-4 others) and accelerated math groups as well. If moving doesn't work out
for you for one reason or another, I'd recommend talking to the teacher first, then
the principal and possibly contacting the School Governance Council. With respect
to art, it's happening at my daughter's school, but I also check in with the teacher
periodically to see if I can help assist with art projects. The teachers have been
really receptive and are already doing art. I also try to check in with the parents of
other accelerated learners in my daughter's class. You can end up developing a
team of parents who pitch in where they can. Sounds like you are well within your
rights to start advocating on behalf of your daughter. Still, not all Berkeley public
schools are created equal, though they like to say they are, and if you are really
dissatisfied, then moving to Lafayette sounds like a good option. Best of luck no
matter which direction you go in.
My son has a (mild) Asperger's diagnosis and we are considering
moving to Lafayette or Orinda for better schools. We have
started looking at different homes. While I know both these
districts have very good schools in general, does anyone have
information (positive or negative) on the ASD support services
at a particular elementary in either of these towns? What
about Happy Valley Elementary in particular? Any school in
either town which you have feedback in terms of special ed services?
Thanks so much for any input on this topic.
-looking for school advice
We don't have a kid on the Asperger's spectrum, but we moved to
Spring Hill elementary last year and have been very pleased with
the school so far. I think they did a great job of handling our
somewhat shy difficult to transition daughter. I have heard
Springhill does handle a fair number of special needs kids. I
don't know much about Happy Valley's programs, but they
generally have a reputation for being one of the more
academically intense programs. It's definitely the wealthiest
community in Lafayette and socially we didn't feel like it was
our cup of tea, whereas the Springhill community seems a bit
A happy Springhill parent
I would love to hear of the experiences of kids with ADHD in
Lafayette elementary schools. Is there a particular school that
supports and works well with these types of kids? We will be
relocating to Lafayette shortly and are weighing our options for
our first grader who will be coming from an independent school.
If I had to do it over again, I would have put my child at
Burton Valley. Larger school with more services, active special
ed parent community, less social stigma for a kid
We recently moved to Lafayette. Our children go to Springhill
Elementary School. From what I have heard, Springhill Elementary
school is like a hub for the special education, fully staffed
with special ed. teachers. I heard that if kids who go to
schools in Lafayette school district need additional supports for
their special needs, they come to Springhill Elementary school.
(Sorry if my understanding is not correct. For that part, you
can contact Lafayette elementary school district.) The
principal, Mr. Wodhams, has been very responsive to our concerns
and needs since the time we were enrolling our kids.
So far, we are quite happy with the school. Please feel free to
e-mail me if you have more questions.
My child will be starting Kindergarten at Springhill Elementary
School in Lafayette this fall. I was wondering if anyone had
any experiences, good or bad, about the two major after-school
care options, Kids Hideout on campus or Happy Days preschool
across the street. I'd also like to know if there are any
other options in the area, particularly any home-based daycares
in the area that pick up from the school. Thanks.
I was a Teacher's Aide for several years at Springhill and from the parents and children
I knew that attended Kids Hideout and some friends and parents whose children
attended Happy Days, I only heard good things.
In response to Kathy from Walnut Creek: We have found the
Lafayette Public Schools to be wonderfully warm and
welcoming. My children are now at Stanley Middle but went
k-5 through Happy Valley. Through town sports, scouts etc
we are friends with many people from the other schools too
and each has much to recommend it. While each is unique,
all four elementrys have a strong sense of community,
active involved parents and fine staff. HV, Springhill and
Lafayette are all around 450 kids, Burton is closer to 900 -
but still enjoys a tight knit community. Through
Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation, all the schools have
strong choral music programs from K and instrumental
programs from grade 4. LASF also provides a very strong
art program at all schools. None of the elementry schools
have foreign language available during the school day
though several have pay to participate afterschool
offerings. There is also a very strong private French
program in town for preschool through grade 6 open to
anyone wishing to sign up.
this page was last updated: Sep 25, 2011
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