OUSD School Choice & Open Enrollment
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Questions about How School Assignment Works
My husband and I are in the foster-adopt process and concerned about how we find a school
mid-year if we are fortunate enough to match with a child. Presently, we are limiting our search
to children before school age, but we are considering adopting a slightly older child.
Our neighborhood school in Oakland was closed in the last round of school cuts. It was probably
not a school we would have chosen for our child. The lottery and choice system has been daunting
for people we know with children and for us we add in the factor of not really knowing when we
will need to get a child in school. Frankly, we would prefer some schools to others, but are
pretty sure we would have real trouble getting into one of them.
We are now considering moving to a school district where the system is a little easier to
negotiate and where we feel we would have a better chance at being in a neighborhood school that
has what we are looking for (arts engagement, relatively stable teaching force, active parent
I'm wondering if others have faced such a challenge or if anyone has advice based on navigating
the various school systems mid year.
Hopeful Concerned Dads
I'm not a parent who's adopted a child but I'm a parent within OUSD. I'd call
the school district's student assignment office & ask where students from your
neighborhood are now being funneled since the school there has closed. It may
be that a better school is an option from where you are now.
If it doesn't look good, then I strongly recommend that you consider moving to
a better neighborhood for your new child's schooling. Our neighborhood school
isn't good & we had a hard time getting into a better school. The district is
currently trying to improve that process but realistically there are too many
students and not enough good schools.
I would also consider that your new child may need services if he/she has been
in foster care...totally not knowing this process so I can only guess that
there may be emotional / behavioral needs and if that be the case then that
should factor into your choice. Does the potential new neighborhood's school
have services at the site? (They're all supposed to by law but many do not.)
Or will the school accommodate such needs even if they don't have special
programs there? Again, each student is supposed to have his/her needs met at
their own neighborhood school, but it's not always the case w/ Oakland.
I've never heard of a child not being able to enroll in a school mid-year, but
I would verify that w/ the student assignment office as well as any potential
School sites are open in the summer for administrative purposes & usually
there is at least a couple of staff members there to answer the phone or the
door, in the morning hours. Group tours usually happen in the fall/winter for
I adopted my two boys (6 and 10) through the Alameda fost/adopt program. Since
both of my sons were placed with me prior to elementary school, I didn't have
your problem (but finding child care was difficult not knowing the age prior
to placement). However, I used the OUSD lottery and appeal process to get the
public school I wanted. It is tricky and a bit unnerving, but I encourage you
to ask for the school you want and keep appealing. Every year at our school
there are kids who transfer in mid-year. It is possible. I will make an
assumption based on your signature ''Hopeful Concerned Dads'' that you are a
two dad family. Our school, Kaiser Elementary, is a very welcoming school
across all levels of diversity and inclusion; one parent, two same-sex
parents, adoptive families, mixed race families, grandparents raising kids,
family income levels, etc. Families come to Kaiser from all across Oakland.
We are a small community minded school with great parent involvement. I
encourage you to tour the school and speak to the principal, who is great! If
you want, you can contact me off line to discuss more.
Really, you're going to have to play it by ear a little bit. The specifics of
the situation will end up determining things -- for example, maybe they're
already in a local school and if there's no security issue (eg. parents
deported as happens way too often these days), you may want to keep them in
their existing school, at least for the remainder of the school year.
If they're pre-school age, you can see about getting them in at Headstart --
you may have to check around (I don't have the impression that there's a lot
of coordination between programs) to see about vacancies or waiting lists
(foster kids are usually at the head of the line, due to a points system that
they score well on). Assuming the federal sequestration isn't still decimating
them when you need them.
If they're school age and you have to move them, you're likely to have to
engage with OUSD. I have found that working the system (telling them a
compelling story and additional facts like that you're going to move to this
neighborhood, meeting the principal, talking to multiple people on different
days, etc) can help. Here's the thing -- in the middle of the school year, you
may find an unexpected opening at a school you like. There are some good
schools out there, or in neighborhoods that you're thinking of moving to.
I never got much help from our social workers, so keep looking for resources
on your own.
Does anyone have any success stories about the Oakland Options process? All I hear are
stressful doomsday ''good luck getting in THERE'' when I tell people our top school is
Crocker Highlands. We do live in a Program Improvement neighborhood, but I know it's a long
shot. Any thoughts or advice in the process? I know the basics....appeal and be
persistent. But I'm looking for some real life stories. Thank you!
Stressed about Kindergarten Process
Yes your odds are good! I know lots of people who are in program improvementschool
zones and opted into better school. I even know people from non-PI zones who got their
top choice. (Someone in thornhill zone who got into Montclair!). The key I hear is to
go thru the first round and then if you don't get your choice do an appeal. Write a
persuasive letter to placement office that explains why your choice school would be
better for your child. And if you are willing to wait often spots open up the first
week of school. be persistent. . Good luck!
Yes and no. Yes, we absolutely know people who've gotten into high-performing OUSD
schools, even from non-PI neighborhoods--but most of them got in either during the
appeals process or late in the summer. Most of those schools are at or over capacity,
so neighborhood kids and siblings are on the list before you are, even with PI status.
However, I know several people (PI and non-PI) who've optioned into the schools just
below the radar through the standard options process--so I would certainly consider
those, too. The issue with Crocker specifically is that it is currently very
oversubscribed as a result of a boundary change last year. They are in the process of
correcting this, but the new boundaries aren't approved yet. Even with the new
boundaries, the catchment area is growing over the pre-2011 area, so there won't be
much room this year or in the coming years for non-neighborhood, non-sibling students.
When you visit schools, you can ask for information about how many K students in this
year's class are neighborhood or sibling; that can help you figure out which schools
you are most likely to get into through options or appeals. If you're willing to wait
through the summer (or even into the first weeks of the school year) you can sometimes
get a spot if there are no-shows, too. Good luck!
Another Oakland mama
Our son will be entering Kindergarten Fall of 2013. I've read through the
information on the OUSD website and have one remaining question. We are supposed
to choose six schools. Are we guaranteed placement in one of those six schools?
If not, then what happens? I welcome any insight into the Options process, even
that not addressing my specific question. Also, our neighborhood school is an
API improvement school and also wouldn't be one of my top six choices. Lisa
Unfortunately, no, you aren't guaranteed that you will be assigned to any of your top
six choices. However, since your neighborhood school is program improvement, you
have a much better chance than others. If you aren't assigned a school that you
want, you can go through the appeals process. Also, OUSD usually holds a session to
explain the options process, so keep checking back on the website to find out the
date. We went through the options process this past year, and my child got into our
first choice school.
There is hope!
I'm afraid I might sound very unaware, but I can't seem to find any info on
how the OUSD lottery works past elementary school. Once you're in an
elementary school, are you prioritized for its ''feeder'' middle and high
school? Or, do you have to do the lottery all over again? How hard is it to
move into non-neighborhood middle and high schools?
Confused about the lottery
No, if your elementary school is not your neighborhood school, you do not
automatically get routed to your school's middle school (I'm sure that sounds a
bit confusing). Middle and high schools are also assigned by neighborhood, but
the truth is, they are not oversubscribed like some of the OUSD elementaries are,
so your chances of going to a non-neighborhood middle or high school is good. I
have NEVER heard of a child not getting their first choice middle or high school
in OUSD (though that doesn't mean it can't happen).
Am a new member of Berkeley Parents in anticipation of a move to the
East Bay in July.
I am sorry if this question seems obvious, but just can't seem to figure
out an answer. Is the school district in Oakland lottery within a zone,
or pure lottery? My oldest son will enter K in the fall, and we won't
have an Oakland address until July. If we move to a neighborhood with
good schools, are we guaranteed a spot in a school IN THE ZONE, but not
necessarily the one closest to us? (Eg, if we moved to Rockridge, we
could end up in Chabot or Hillcrest, but not necessarily the one closest
to us?) Or is it that we'd be potentially given a spot anywhere in the
district? (Eg, we move to Rockridge and end up in a school 30 minutes
Again, apologies if this has been discussed before - I've scoured the
boards and just haven't found the answer. Appreciate any help!
Just to confuse you further--it's neither! Schools in Oakland are
neighborhood-based, which means that for most schools, if you live in the zone,
you go to the school. (One school per zone, generally.) The maps for each
school are on the OUSD website. There are a few exceptions (like Hillcrest)
where schools are oversubscribed, so then you may get redirected to a
designated second school if there's no room. You only go into the lottery if
you do not want to attend your neighborhood school. BUT a big exception to this
is if you enter the enrollment process late, as it sounds like you will. School
assignments for next fall are already made, so children entering late are
assigned whatever spots are left. However, you will get preference on the
waiting list for your neighborhood school if a spot opens up (which is
sometimes not until after school starts--there are usually no-shows). The
sooner you get your address and get your son on the list, the better. Good
luck, and welcome to Oakland!
Another Oakland parent
Call OUSD and ask them. People with children move all times of the year and
face the same situation.
There are no ''zones'' in Oakland. You're either in your neighborhood school,
or you're not. There are a lot of great elementary schools in Oakland, so even
if you don't get a coveted spot at your neighborhood school, you might end up
at some other excellent school. BUT, it's a little bit risky, the way you're
doing it. Kids already have their school assignments for fall and even though
there are many good schools, they are probably all filled up. I'm sure there
are others on this list who can give you a list of good elementary schools that
are likely to have a kindy spot available, but there are many schools where
that is highly unlikely (Chabot, Peralta, Crocker, Thornhill, etc.). It would
take some luck to get a spot at one of these schools in July, though it's not
impossible. It might be worth calling individual schools to get a sense of the
likelihood of getting in.
I hope I haven't confused you more...but navigating OUSD can be tricky.
Weary OUSD mom
Is it okay to move to a different neighborhood a few years after you've
enrolled in an Oakland elementary school? My son will be attending
kindergarten in 2013. We currently rent so we're planning on moving this
summer to a rental in one of the better school districts.
However, we are hoping to buy a house in three to four years' time. If
the house we purchase is not in the same school district, would we have
to transfer our son out of third grade? For example, if we rent in
Rockridge but later buy in Temescal, would he have to transfer from
Crocker to Emerson? Or is it a case of once-you're-in, you're-in through
Also, I know siblings get first priority, but is that whether or not
you're in the district? If we moved before my younger son entered
kindergarten, would he still get priority for the school his older
Thanks so much!
Adams Point Mama
Yes, OUSD policy allows children to stay at the same school even if
the family moves. You also keep your sibling preference even if you're
no longer in the school zone. So your plan sounds like a good one!
Another Oakland parent
Once you're in a school you can stay there as long as you live
anywhere in OUSD. For example, our friend rented in the Thornhill
catchment to get into Thornhill kindergarten, then moved to a cheaper
part of Oakland but her child stayed at Thornhill.
You should confirm this with the enrollment office in OUSD but my
understanding is that you can stay at your school. I work in OUSD and
as far as I know they only do address verification once. But call the
school you hope to go to too to be sure.
Hi - So, not to worry. If I am understanding your question correctly,
once you are in a school in OUSD, you don't have to transfer simply
because you have moved. You CAN transfer - which is another story.
Once you are enrolled in an OUSD school, you are in until 5th grade.
Check with SAO if you are worried, but being a past OUSD employee and
current educational consultant - that is my understanding.
Best of luck,
Regarding Oakland schools, once you're in, you're in. You are free to
move around Oakland but stay in whichever school you're enrolled in.
Siblings, even non-neighborhood siblings, have priority over
Our son will start kindergarten in Fall 2011. We're renters
and can relocate anywhere. We're very interested in having
him attend either of the Montclair elementary schools -
Thornhill or Montclair. I assume we need to live in one of
those school districts to have him attend? Are there any
exceptions to that? Is renting okay? Do you have to live
there for any specific length of time beforehand? Should I
meet with someone at the schools first? What other practical
advice could help us? Thank you so much!
It's great that you are portable!
With ANY Oakland public school, you must have an
and related identification (car registration,
license, electric bill, etc) to prove your
the application date. Renting is fine. The date
for a 2011
start is likely in mid December 2010.
I suggest you visit the schools you are
interested in and
talk with parents and teachers. This school year
ends in 12
days-so act fast if you want to see action this
visit schools then move in the fall).
Please note- occasionally a school will have more
neighborhood kids applying then they have space.
that Hillcrest, for one, has this problem. So
wherever you move, your kid has a guarantee of
You can get a sense of capacity by talking with
parents, and the person who runs placement for
We toured schools and moved to the Montclair
just before application. We also considered
and Piedmont. We're very happy at Montclair.
Our daughter is currently enrolled in the 2nd grade at
Thornhill Elementary and we are very happy with her
teachers and progress so far. We have the opportunity to
buy a great house that, while still in Oakland and not
very far away, is in a different elementary school
district. Must we change our daughter's elementary school?
I would hate to move her away from her friends and
comfortable school envirnoment but also don't want to pass
up this opportunity to own a home.
Would love to hear from people who may have been in a
If you are still in OUSD, you can stay at Thornhill. Double check with Kathy in
the office, who knows everything. But I know people who've started out in the
Thornhill ''catchment'', who moved out of it, but still attend, because they don't
make you switch. People move apartments all the time, can't be switching all
No, you don't have to change schools. Once you're in, you're
in, the school district doesn't require you to change
schools because you moved, you just have the *option* to do
so, if you want to.
You do not have to move your child to another elementary
school. As long as you're still living in Oakland, once
she's in, she's in. Last Spring, I registered my daughter
in K at our then-neighborhood school, we moved during the
summer to another school neighborhood, she began the year
at the school where she registered. I updated the school
w/our new address to ensure we'd receive mailings, records
would be accurate, etc. no need to move though. Your next
school move will be middle school- which will be based on
your current Oakland neighborhood, not her current
Moved homes not schools in Oakland
Our son is starting Kindergarden in the fall. Our lease will be
up after he starts, and we'd like to consider buying a house.
What happens if we move, within Oakland? Must our child switch
schools? At the beginning of the next school year, would we
face the interdistrict transfer lottery? Once a child is in a
school, can he stay there until he graduates (so long as he
lives in Oakland)?
We haven't called the OUSD office because we have been told
more than once not to trust information from the OUSD office.
We like our current district school and wouldn't want him to be
forced to move. What are the rules? We're not trying to game
the system, but may likely buy in a less-desirable area.
We moved within Oakland when my daughter was in 1st grade and
had no problem keeping her in the school where she'd gone for
kindergarten. I think we discussed it with the principal
before we enrolled her in the school to begin with, since we
were renting at the time and didn't know how long we'd be
staying, and I think that the principal told us that it
wouldn't be a problem keeping her there if we moved as long as
we stayed in Oakland. If I were you I would check with the
principal of the school where your child is going to
I don't think you'll need to change schools. But, with the new
''Options'' plan (only for
kids entering K & 5th) I might be wrong. You won't get incorrect
information if you call
OUSD and talk to Noah Bookman. (Or, sometimes it's even better to
email him - his
address is on the OUSD website.)
Go to this website to find out your school. It is put out by the
To find out what to do and what the process is, go to the OUSD
site and click on PARENTS tab. There will be some tabs at the
top, right under where it says PARENTS in blue. One says
enrollment/assignment info and click on it. If gives you all your
You will never get an info by calling them. No one there ever
knows anything. The website is pretty good though.
The Oakland school district has a map tool at
http://mapstacker.ousd.k12.ca.us/welcome.htm that should help --
you can check any address in the City of Oakland to see its
Elementary, Middle, or High School boundary, among other
things. If you are in the boundary for the school you're
applying to, you do not have to go through the lottery system
UNLESS there are more kindergarten kids within the boundaries
than there are slots for. This hasn't happened at Montclair or
Thornhill yet, but it has happened at other Oakland elementary
We're going to be buying in Oakland, and want to understand the
impact of various neighborhoods for education options down the
road. Many things (including OUSD rules) could, of course,
change in the next decade, but we'd like to understand where
things are at right now. We will buy in the flats and will
decide based on many factors - not just the schools.
We are currently in Oakland Tech's area, which seems fine. How
about Oakland High School?
It appears that the high schools tend to have small-school
academies -- how hard is it to get in, if you meet the
academics, on a transfer?
thanks for any insight.
work at Envision Academy, a college prep charter high school in
Downtown Oakland. I wanted to make a pitch for the many charters
schools throughout Oakland that are providing students with a
quality education. As you may know, charter schools are public
schools, except that they handle their own finances and create
their own curriculum. They are not exempt from state mandated
test like the CAHSEE, etc. Lastly, the process of enrolling in
these schools is not dependent on where you live. Schools like
Envision Academy have great leadership and are doing great
things. You can find out information on EA and other charters
that doing good work at the California Charter School Association.
Dear Parents- I hope you can help. I want to get feedback on
the proposed changes to OUSD enrollment policy for elementary
schools. We're moving from Oakland to Boston this summer and
hope to buy a house by fall. We used to live in Oakland & my
husband worked for OUSD so we know its pitfalls. My question
is whether or not the proposed changes (sibs first,
megaboundaries for enrollment because of overcrowding) will
actually effect the neighborhoods/schools. Will people move out
if boundaries are expanded? Will home values dip? Will the
schools change that much as a result? I know it's an emotional
& political issue, but we're devestated to have settled on area
that was challenging to begin w/in terms of enrollment (REdwood
Heights) only to learn the policy might change drastically
w/the new boundaries. Would it be a mistake to buy in such a
neighborhood if the policy changed? Any answers welcome.
There is a good discussion of these changes here:
The Education Report is a blog where reporter Katy Murphy
discusses Oakland schools in great detail. There are many
active participants on the blog and it's a decent source of
information and opinion on the current issues.
I understand that OUSD in the process of making changes to the
cut-off date for kindergarteners from December 1 to September
1. I have also heard that they will be adding a lottery system
whereby people in neighborhood schools are not guaranteed their
neighborhood school and it is a lottery system instead much
like San Francisco Unified. A couple questions, one being when
are these changes going to take place, and also, do I have the
facts right? Could someone clarify? We are thinking of moving
to a new Oakland neighborhood for the schools and I would hate
to move and then find out that we can't even go to our
Most of the schools with high API scores (over 900) in OUSD are
full or are over capacity. I recently called OUSD about the
waitlist policy and the waitlist supposedly ends 2 weeks after
school begins this year. School in Oakland is slated to begin
on August 25th. Call OUSD directly to verify policies and dates
as they may change, 879-8200. You can also go directly to each
school's website to find out further information about any re-
districting that may affect you.
I heard the same rumor about OUSD cut off dates changing. I asked
OUSD and they referred me around until I got this reply on May
1st. Hope this helps.
In the last few years or more, there has been a measure in the
legislature to change the kindergarten age 5 date requirement
(usually a phase in) from Dec. 1 to Sept. 1. However, there has
generally been a conflict with folks that like it the way it is,
the fact that compulsory education begins at age 6-18, and what
to do about the kids that are not placed because of change-which
generally means some sort of preschool placement which is always
a cost issue. To answer your question directly, there is a bill-
AB 683 authored by Sharon Runner that failed to get out of the
Assembly Education Committee. See link below. Since
this bill failed passage, there is no real threat of anything
changing anytime soon.
future OUSD mom
Lupita Cortez Alcala
Director, Legislative Affairs
Office of Jack O'Connell,
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education
We live in the Montclair District of Oakland and have a son who
will attend elementary school in 2010. I need to figure out
which elementary school our son is eligible to attend in
Montclair (I assume it's based on our street address) and
whether or not there is a lottery system or if we are guaranteed
a spot by virtue of being Montclair residents. I would
appreciate some guidance and advice. I tried to research the
OUSD website but it wasn't very helpful.
It is based on street address. Call the schools nearest to you, or call a real estate
office. OUSD is in the process of changing the ways kids are assigned. Even now, you
aren't guaranteed a spot in your neighborhood school, some have too many entering K
students. Once you find out what school you are in, get in touch with the school
parent association to find out more and how to get involved. OUSD has been holding
A couple years ago I was told by an official at OUSD that
neighborhood children who had a sibling currently enrolled at
school would be admitted first, so we thought we'd be fine when
it came time to enroll our second child. Now I've been hearing
rumors that ''neighborhood siblings'' will be in the same pool as
all other applicants from the neighborhood and may not be
assigned to the same school at their older sibling. Has anyone
else heard this or had this happen? Are you aware of any other
school districts that don't prioritize siblings who live within
the school boundaries?
Just want my kids to attend the same school!
No! I went to an OUSD meeting two weeks ago with the head of
the schools and issues realted to the options program. (I can't
remember his name.)
He was very clear that neighborhood siblings do NOT get
priority over regular neighborhood kids. The computer program
that runs all kids who apply to each school picks neighborhood
kids first, then, if spaces are available, chooses siblings,
then moves to other groups of kids. You older one's little
brother or sister has the same chance of getting into that
school as any other neighborhood kid does. This OUSD man
expressed his frustration that the same family could be sending
different kids to different schools, but that is just the way
it is. I have a child entering kindergarten in Redwood Heights
in 2008. The numbers show that Redwood Heights will not be a
problem this year. Next year, however, is going to be a
problem. I have another little one who will be in school in
2010. I plan on pressuring OUSD to change their policy on
siblings for 2010. I would imagine, if they change it at all,
it might take that long!--but one never knows. Good luck!
We are hoping to send our son to public elementary school next
year. Does anyone have any current information on how open
enrollment works? Is it hard to get into your school of choice?
How soon do you have to apply? We are debating whether to move
to another area with a better elementary school or to stay put
and hope he gets into one of the schools we prefer. We were
thinking of listing about 6-8 schools. Is there a good chance
we will get one of them? Our local elementary is in the low
600s for API performance, and we are not very comfortable
sending him there, but we want to send him to public school.
As far as I know open enrollment applications had to be in at the end
with assignments being mailed in mid-march. If you do not want to
neighborhood school the best thing to do is call the placement
specialist at OUSD. If
you are okay with your local school go talk to the administator as they
spaces for late registration/late moves to the neighborhood.
Just an aside - don't judge your school by the numbers. Go for a tour,
parents, etc... we have two children in the public schools in Oakland
and have been
very impressed and happy.
Open Enrollment ended in January. I'd contact the district to see what
the next step for
you would be.
We are thinking about moving from SF to Oakland in the next few
years for the schools but are not sure about how the neighborhood
school system works. If we move into a home that would be in the
district for, e.g. Crocker Highlands, before the application
deadline, are we guaranteed a spot as neighborhood residents? It
wasn't clear from the OUSD website whether living in the
neighborhood is more than just a priority ranking.
Also, is it difficult for families in the ''more desirable''
school neighborhoods, like those funneling to Crocker, Joaquin
Miller, Chabot, etc., to get their kids into their local school?
Do neighbors living in the area by the application deadline ever
(or routinely) lose places to applicants from other areas? One of
the reasons we're thinking of moving from SF is to get away from
the uncertainty of the SFUSD's assignment system and we'd hate to
move into Oakland only to face the same.
Thanks for any insight -- and any recommendations on elementary
East Bay bound?
Yes, I know, that same OUSD ''explanation'' made me nervous too. But
it seems that,
at least for now, your kid gets priority in your neighborhood school,
if you get your
application in by the proper deadline. Of course, the hill schools
tend to be full, so
this doesn't guarantee you a spot.
Please think at least somewhat carefully before you choose Oakland for
Be sure the system there is one in which your child will do well. All
of the schools
are required to use the Open Court reading curriculum pretty
religiously. Even in
my school (one of the ''better'' ones), this results in what I consider
number of worksheets, homework, and assessments. My son, who is plenty
but has writing difficulties, hates kindergarten halfway through
(although he loved
preschool, and loves his current teacher) -- he hates the work and it
is too hard and
too boring, at the same time!
A kid who's better at both sitting still, and writing, would probably
do a bit better.
Information from my experience 2006-2007: You are not
automatically enrolled in your neighborhood school: You need
to choose it as one (your first one, I would guess, for the
popular schools) of your choices in the school option period,
although you have priority. If you don't already live in the
district, I think they keep some spaces open for move-ins. YOu
should call Noah Bookman in the OUSD assignment office, and he
can give you all the details. It is a bit of a pain but not an
Only a few Oakland schools get full with neighborhood kids. As
of three years ago, these were only Hillcrest & Manzanita
(elementary schools) and none of the middle or high schools.
In all other schools, if you registered before the late-January
deadline you are pretty much guaranteed a spot, although it
does not say ''guaranteed'' on any paper since any school is
limited to its capacity (but some schools do use the
word ''guaranteed'' in the public forum). If you are in the right
neighborhood and do paperwork on time, you have nothing to
In good schools there are good teachers. They teach great under
Open Court or any other system, with lots of support from
parents, and lots of school support (including individualized)
for high-performing children, of which in good schools there
are very many.
I have two quick comments on your question. First, someone
else suggested you call Noah Bookman at OUSD. Unfortunately,
he is no longer with OUSD. The current head of the school
assignments office is Elizabeth Hensley.
Second -- if you're going to move to Oakland for the schools,
you might want to read some BPN reviews on the middle and high
schools here. Your child will not be in elementary school
forever. Obviously, opinions on the grade 6-12 options here
vary, but unless you're SURE you want to move again in 6 years,
I think you ought to at least think about the schools beyond
elementary. You may or may not find them acceptable, but I
think it's worth at least thinking about.
Regarding elementary schools in Oakland, I wanted to mention
that IF your address assigns you to a NON-program-improvement
(PI) school, it is very difficult to transfer to an ''already
excellent'' elementary school that is not in your Oakland
neighborhood. If, on the other hand, you are assigned to a PI
school -- and there are more than 20 elementary schools in
Oakland that this applies to -- it is very possible to transfer
to an ''already excellent'' school. Without getting into the
merits of this direct effect of the No Child Left Behind
legislation, as applied in the OUSD, it does mean that non-PI
kids have very few schools available to them, outside their
neighborhood school. (Of course, it also means that the PI
schools lose a lot of neighborhood kids.)
One thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to go
through the recent OUSD ''Options'' process -- results of this
will be out in March -- and if you receive none of the choices
that you requested, appeal and get your child on a waiting list
at one of your school choices. Then, you have to wait it out,
sometimes until August, or even the first week of school.
People do this and it is risky but possible. (Note that for PI
kids who don't get their choice of school, appealing the
Options outcome is an excellent strategy -- the PI kids are put
on a waitlist that is entirely separate from the non-PI kids'
waitlist. In other words, the PI waitlist must be exhausted
before any non-PI kids are taken.)
The other thing to do is to think about what would make you
comfortable sending your child to your neighborhood school,
even if it's not a ''10'', or even a ''7''. What if there were an
active PTA, and several other neighborhood families that were
open to sending their kids to the school? Or what if you don't
feel comfortable with your immediate neighborhood school, but
you've heard that there are some good things happening at
another school close by -- would you consider sending your
child there for kindergarten, knowing that you could try for a
transfer again at 1st or 2nd grade if things didn't work out?
If in March, PI or non-PI, you find yourself with a difficult
decision to make, please consider Piedmont Avenue Elementary
School. There is a new-ish, very active PTA doing some good
fundraising; there are neighborhood families sending their kids
to the school as well as lots of Oakland families who've
transferred into the school because of some of the good things
going on there; and the school's physical facility is
excellent, unlike some OUSD schools -- no portables, well
heated and maintained building, safe neighborhood, and lots of
garden and playground improvement in the works.
If you'd like to hear more about the school, or would like to
follow its progress, please sign up for our Yahoo group -- send
an e-mail to walktoschoolPANSAfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your interest,
I recently decided to enroll my daughter in public kindergarten
instead of continuing with her private school. When I called
the school to inquire about registering, I was told that the
school is full and that I should call Oakland Unified to get
assigned to a school with space available. This is our
neighborhood school, btw, not one we were hoping to transfer
Has anyone else had this happen? What stategies did you use to
get your child enrolled? Do I have any legal right to enroll
in the school that is in my neighborhood? Any advice at all
would be greatly appreciated.
Just because you live in your OUSD public school neighborhood,
you are still required to go through the standard registration
process in order to enroll your kindergartner in your local
school. This is true for everyone in the neighborhood, even
those with siblings already attending the school. Good public
schools in Oakland are in high demand, so the spaces that are
not filled by neighborhood kids are quickly filled with transfer
students. Meeting the registration deadline is the only way to
guarantee your place in your neighborhood school, which must
meet enrollment levels in order to receive full funding and
continue the level of educational excellence. Residing in the
district won't guarantee your place if you haven't gone through
the process. People who move into the neighborhood during the
school year face these issues all the time.
The first thing you should do is schedule a meeting with the
principal to learn about the waiting list process. OUSD schools
don't have an actual enrollment count until around the third
week of the school year, so there usually are unanticipated
openings. Sometimes people move away during the summer and
don't notify the school; sometimes parents get accepted to
private schools... there are a myriad of reasons that create
Rather than pursuing any type of legal action, which may or may
not get you the desired result (and likely leave a foul taste),
you would be better off to work with the principal and show your
willingness to be involved with the school and an active and
positive member of the school community. Principals have more
pull than one might think. I know of at least one case in our
high-demand local school where the principal went out of the way
to enroll a transfer kindergarten student simply because his
parents were so enthusiastic about being part of the community
and it was clear that their unabashed involvement (which was
not, I might add, financial) would make a great addition to the
school. As it turned out, there was an opening to accomodate
him anyway, but the principal added him without knowing that
because of the perserverance and enthusiasm of the parents.
Also, be willing to have some flexibility to enroll in another
Oakland public school in hopes that something will come up at
your neighborhood school. Chances are better than one would
think that even at the highest-demand public schools, there will
be an opening at some point (even a few days before the school
year). Yes, it can be frustrating and stressful for you and
your child. However, I would be willing to bet good money that
if you stay on top of things, are patient and work in
partnership with the principal and can be flexible right up till
the end, that you will be able to enroll your child at your
neighborhood public school. Patience, pathos and perserverance
will pay off.
Knows whereof I speak
We have been looking into this issue of legal rights to enroll in
your neighborhood school and as it turns out you do not have any
legal rights to your neighborhood school. We have this issue in
Pacifca, which is an all open enrollment system. Also look to
the SF School district for other examples. The school districts
are required to treat everyone equally and to of course provide a
spot at A school, but not necisarily the school you want. If
your child has some disability and it just so happens your
neighborhood school is the only school in the district that can
accomadate your child then you would have a legal basis to demand
enrollment in that school. But other than that there is no legal
basis to demand access to your local school.
I put my kids through my neighborhood elementary school, which
is one of the more popular ones in Oakland. To my knowledge,
neighborhood children are given priority to register through a
certain date, which I believe is sometime in March. At that
point the school opens the unreserved spaces to the out-of-
neighborhood children on the wait list. If you decide, after the
deadline, to put your child in the school, they put you on the
wait list. You might go to the top, but they won't displace
anyone already given a space, which certainly seems fair to me.
I know this is after the fact in your case, but,a word of
caution to others: If you think there's even a slim chance
you'll use your neighborhood school, register your child early.
You can always call the school and tell them you won't be
attending. The logistics of assembling classes is mind boggling.
The schools have no choice but to set limits for the good of all
Our child attends a private Kindergarten. We recently moved
into the district of a desirable elementary school. When I
went to register my child for Fall, 2005 in first grade, I was
told that there would only be space if one of the current
Kindergarteners didn't attend first grade at the school. I've
learned that as many as one-quarter of these Kindergarteners
are inter- or intra-district transfers. As we live in the
neighborhood, doesn't our child have the right to attend the
school, even if it means displacing a current transfer
student? Trying to get an official statement out of the
superintendent's office is challenging. Is there a written
policy? Any advice would be welcome!
The OUSD is confusing and impenetrable. As a result of this, each school has it's
own creative procedures. I recommend going to the principal or secretary of your
local school and letting them know you are very interested in the school. (Don't be
put off by busy or monosyllabic desk people, get all your questions asked.) They'll
tell you that the window period for open enrollment is already over, which is true.
BUT, each school saves a number of slots for last minute neighborhood enrollers.
They have to let you in! I think you're entitled to sign up right at the school. Don't
be intimidated by the desirable school thing, many families leave after kindergarten,
desirable or not. You may have to also go downtown and enroll with the people
there. The secretary at your school can tell you where that actual downtown person
can be found, it seems to change every year. Volunteer at your school before you
are enrolled, ask if there are any garden or pta tasks you can help with, attend a pta
meeting, make yourself known & get a feel for the school at the same time. Good
luck! You're welcome to contact me if you wish.
Happy OUSD parent,
Unhappy with School Assignment
I just got my childs elementary school assignment & she was assigned to Carl
Munck. Although it is the closest to me, I applied for the options program
because I had not heard 1 good thing about Carl Munck. Can anyone shed some
light on the school? Is there any other way around this assignment?
Try Community School for Creative Education. It is a sweet public charter in Oakland that
is still accepting applications for Kindergarten.
Appeal! Go down to the district office and request to be put on the waiting list for the
school you want. They may try to discourage you; that the wait list is long, but get on
it anyway. I got the school of my choice this way. If you are willing to wait through
the summer, and maybe even to the first week of school, the chances are high that you
will get the school you want. In my son's K class this year there were a few kids who
arrived after the first day of school since several kids who were assigned didn't show up
and didn't tell the school. The school has to hold those spots for a certain number of
days, and after that they open up to the waiting list. Stick to your guns!
I know several families at Munck who are perfectly happy there. The staff is very caring,
there are some great teachers and the diversity is a huge bonus. Before you write it off,
why not pay a visit and consider it against the criteria that are important to you.
I read the postings about OUSD School Choice and Open Enrollment and
I need advice for anyone who has recently gone through the options
process and appeals. We did not get into any of our 6 choices, we are
hoping to get in to the NOCCS, however we know it is not easy - the
percentage for getting in is not great. My son is going to be 5 in
October of this year and his pre-school said he is ready for
kindergarden, however our neighborhood school is Santa Fe Elementary
and this was our assignment. It is program improvement school and I'm
afraid he will not do well in Santa Fe. Does anyone else have
experience with Santa Fe or advice for what you would do. I hate to
hold him back - we do not have money for private schools and I don't
know if we can still get into another pre-school now that it is
getting late. We had such a hard time just finding good daycares,
that I'm not sure I will have time to find a good pre-school now. I
don't know much about homeschooling, and my husband I both work full
time, so I don't know if we would even have time to be home with him.
So sorry to hear your son didn't get placed in a school of your
choice. I think you have a few things to consider...since your son
has a late bday, you can consider waiting one more year. I would
try and use every option available. Meaning, go ahead and appeal to
OUSD, find an alterate preschool or day care in case you need to
wait a year, and also get an inter-district transfer to Anna Yates.
We also live in the Sante Fe zone. If we had not gotten one of our
choices for OUSD, our back up plan was to send our child to Anna
Yates for a year and then try again. Anna Yates is certainly better
than Sante Fe, and much smaller class sizes too. Also, don't get
too discouraged just yet. With OUSD options, things shift around a
lot, especially toward the end of the summer. I saw another parent
on hear who was also zone for Sante Fe. She put her child in Anna
Yates while appealing to Peralta. She got a call for an open spot 2
weeks into the school year, but ultimately decided to stick with
Lastly, if you are zoned for Sante Fe, NOCCS is putting 2 lottery
tickets in for your child, so that helps your chances as well.
Best of Luck!!!
very fortunate ousd parent.
Dedicate yourself to the appeal process. It does work. Email me if
you'd like to hear more about our experience.
I'm surprised that you didn't get into any schools if you're zoned
for a PI school. Did you apply for the hardest to get into hill
schools? Here's what we found when we were desperate to get out of
our zone school 5 years ago -- that there are some not-so-hyped
schools that were easier to get into. Then there are the rising
schools, which are on an upward trajectory.
At that time, Cleveland (near the lake) was fairly easy to get into
(I believe this is no longer the case, but it still doesn't have the
hype some other schools like Peralta and Chabot do). Our second kid
is starting K in the fall and will go to our neighborhood school,
Piedmont Ave. which we avoided 5 years ago. New principal and now
it's a rising school. It will never have stratospheric test scores
because of its demographics, but it's doing a fine job. I'm sure
there are other schools that are similarly rising. Look around and
be open minded. I also think it's possible that the Title 1 schools
(more low-income kids) will not get hit as hard in next year's
budget. It's going to bad for all the schools. (Of course, less
ability to raise money from the parents so maybe its a wash.)
I suggest that you appeal first to get into a school you really
want. But, start figuring out a rising school that you can easily
get into. Also, lots of things shake out at the end of the summer
(and even into the first weeks of school).
Remember, every study says that a child's home situation is the
predictor in school success, rather than the school.
You can appeal to 1 school. All appeals postmarked before a certain
date will be put on a waiting list in random order. There are always
kids taken from the waiting list, but how many depends on the school
and the year. Since OUSD is cutting school budgets by up to 10%, a
lot of schools will be losing 1 or more teachers. That means class
sizes will be bigger as they have to accommodate all the students in
the school into fewer classes. Also, because of the budget
uncertainty, they probably won't know for sure how many teachers and
how big they have to make the classes until June. There may be more
uncertainty about how many K students to accept, at least until the
summer. There are always a lot of last minute changes and kids
getting into the school (from the waitlist) either at the last
minute or after school starts. Thats what you will have to live with
I would advise you to pick a school you want to go to
(but maybe isn't the most popular school you would send your kid
to), get on that waitlist and wait it out. Also, if you can send him
to a year of pre-k, keep that as a backup plan and if nothing comes
through by the fall, wait another year and try again. That is what
we did with our fall birthday boy in 2009. We were on the waitlist
at Peralta for months and had given up hope of getting in, but in
late October there was an opening and we took it! He started K on
Nov 2, but it all worked out in the end. Openings that late are
unusual, so you may only end up waiting until sometime in September.
We kept in touch with the principal and with the assignment office
(Mike Bonino). In October we were offerred spots at Chabot or
Kaiser, but we chose to wait for Peralta (we were prepared to wait
another year). But it did show us that openings are often available
once school starts and not being there at the beginning of the
school year was a little disruptive, but totally worth it in the
end. Remember also that class sizes are getting bigger in public
schools because of the budget cuts and so waiting a year may not be
so bad for a younger kid. There will probably be 27 kids in K, 28+
in 1st and 2nd grade. There just isn't enough teacher time to spend
a lot of time on kids that need a little more help staying focused
and following directions.
I Did not get my child into an Elementary school of our choice, we
put down all schools not including our neighborhood school, and got
our neighboorhood school.
We are not happy and going to make an appeal. How does the wait list
work and how many appeals can you make?
I called a few of our schools of choice and they had not sent our
their letters to the children they are offering spots to yet. I had
hoped to get an idea which school I should put down so that we would
get into any of our 6 choices, however, the schools were no help,
because they have to wait for the children to register before they
know the projected attendance apparently.
Does anyone have any advice?
See my response to the other question about OUSD school assignments.
To answer your specific question, you do have to pick 1 school to
appeal to and commit to that one. When we did it in 2009 we were
assigned to Piedmont Ave Elem and we did register there to hold the
spot but also appealed to get on the waitlist at Peralta.
(Neighborhood school was Santa Fe). We later took our kid off the
list at Piedmont because we decided we'd wait another year if
Peralta didn't come through. In the fall, about 6 weeks after school
started, we were offered spots at Kaiser and Chabot even though we
weren't on the waitlists there. Still we waited and eventually got
into Peralta. The important thing is to have a backup plan. For us
it was another year of PreK. It could also be a less desirable
public school (but one that you are willing to attend) or one of the
many charter schools in Oakland. Most are not as hard to get into as
I recently gave some advice to a parent who did not get into the school
they chose. Perhaps it can help some other people.
Overall, I urge parents not to freak out about low-performing schools.
There are often complex reasons behind test scores that have nothing to
do with your child's experience.
- visit the school. Start by coming in after school and poking around
the kindergarten classrooms with your kid - less intimidating than doing
a class visit. Meet some teachers. Ask questions. Caring teachers who
can talk to parents make the biggest difference in a school.
- talk to parents. Talk to neighborhood parents. Ask them what best and
worst experiences have been.
Here are some things I've learned about public schools:
- API can be decieving. Parents want to go to schools with the highest
numbers, but that's only one part of the picture. For me, having my son
be around people from different countries (who of course don't score as
well - until they know the language) was more important to me than being
around brainiacs. Parents are the greatest determinant of a child's
success, so early on, have confidence that your child will do well in
- Don't be afraid of black kids, brown kids, or poor kids at your
school. Schools with a high number of kids on the lunch programs get
funding for great programs. Their parents all want the best for their
-Playgrounds are scary. Kids are so big and noisy, and thinking about
putting our babies in the mix is horrifying. But I mean it when I say
you can make a difference! Our school had a horrible playground when we
started, now it's green and drought-resistant and welcoming!
- Character education is important. Ask parents and teachers if they
have Second Step or Tribes or equivalent programs. See what p.e. and
playground programs they have. Sports for Kids, for example, really
creates a great playground dynamic a fabulous thing.
- Parents really make a difference! People were afraid of our
neighborhood school until neighborhood parents got involved. They
started a yahoo group, set up pre-k playdates, built a community,
started a parent's group. Today's 'scary school' might become tomorrow's
'hot school' once the energy and direction builds. It feels really great
to be part of that, WITH your kids.
If you decide to go with a school you're not crazy about...
- volunteer once a week in the kindergarten classroom and try to find 4
other parents as well. Kindergarten teachers really need help. It makes
a big difference to the kids, and you get to know other parents and
- know that you are doing a great thing for the greater good. The more
you learn about how public education works, the more you realize it only
works if people - especially educated people with some skills -
I am a parent of an incoming Kinder and I completed the
Options enrollment form for Oakland Unified Schools and
was told at the options enrollment process meeting back in
December to list 6 schools I would like to get into and I
am guaranteed to at least get 1 of my choices. Well, I
didn't get any of my choices. They assigned me to my
After reading the Appeals process paperwork, I am told
that I need only petition/appeal one school of my choice.
The issue I have is that I have no idea which of my
original 6 I would have a better chance of getting in at?
Sorry (teachers) for ending my sentence with a
Anywho, when I went to the tours and asked about
potential class sizes and incoming neighborhood kids,
siblings, and others, none of the principles or tour
guides seem to have a clue about potential slots open for
outsiders. I feel like I am shooting in the dark here. How
am I supposed to put ALL my eggs in one school's basket
without knowning my chances of getting in to that school?
Also, in terms of my appeal letter, does someone know on
what grounds my appeal should be submitted? In other
words, what situations or circumstances will make my
appeal stronger for my son?
I am desperately seeking answers, if any of you parents
have navigated this process, or you are a teacher,
principle, or a OUSD employee, I would LOVE any feedback
or insight you have.
Thank you so very much
You might want to take a look at this. It is from Katy
Murphy's log. She writes about the OUSD. Apparently as of
last year the Hills schools are really full of neighborhood
kid so trying to get your child into one of those is
difficult. There are very few spots.
We followed the advice we found on the Berkeley Parent
Network to appeal last year for the 2009-10 school year.
Though the advice was a couple of years old, it was still
relevant. This is what we did:
We put down the schools we wanted on the Options form,
listing Crocker Highlands first and our neighborhood
school last. In late February or early March we got a
letter that said we had been assigned to our neighborhood
school. My husband went down to the School Assignment
office the Monday after we received our assignment letter
at 5:00 am to stand in line to appeal to Crocker. We were
about 3rd or 4th in line. He filled out the appeal form.
Some time in May we got another letter saying our appeal
had been denied. My husband went down again to the School
Assignment office and said we still wanted Crocker. About
2 weeks later we got a call from the office saying that
our appeal to Crocker had been granted.
A few notes:
1) Michael Bonino at the schools assignment
office was very helpful. I don't know if he is still
there, but try calling the office.
2) If you received the assignment letter a few weeks ago
and missed the Monday morning line, I would still appeal
to the school you want. Be peristent. Every time the
office tells you your appeal has not been accepted, tell
them you still want to go to the school of your choice.
3) One thing I appreciated about the interim principal of
Crocker last year was that she was clear about how many
appeals had gotten in. She told us all appeals the year
before we started had been accepted but that the year
before that, not all had. Some of the schools we looked
at wouldn't give us any information about this.
The Elementary Options brochure on the OUSD website lists,
for each school, the percentage of families who were
accepted (out of those who chose it as their first-choice
school). So, a 100% school is easiest to get into, and a 40%
is harder. Here's the link:
and if that doesn't work, click through from the ''enroll''
portion of the ''for students and familes'' page at
My son will attend our local grade school this fall, and I am
already worried about it. We applied to a few private schools
but got no financial help and so we are forced to go with the
'option' of our nearby school. My child will be in the minority
- the school has 3% Caucasian kids; it is mostly working class,
nice kids, but I feel a bit out of place. The teachers are long
timers who do not like to have parents in the classroom, which
makes me nervous; there are very few extras like art, music,
computers, Spanish. I could do some things after school, but
with the all day K I have been told not to schedule anything more
for K year!!
We are thinking if the Oakland school isn't adequate we will try
to move. Any advice on where to go? Piedmont, Albany,
Lafayette?? We love Oakland, but also love our kids, and want
them to get a good education. Thanks...
you are still pretty early in the game, from my experience. i
have a current first grader in OUSD. 2 years ago, when we ''walked
through the fire,'' we found that EVERYONE got assigned to their
local school in the first round. so then you ''appeal.'' and you
STILL get your local school, but do get to choose which other
school to be put on the waiting list for. THEN... you wait. we
got the news that we got into our first choice school in mid may.
some of my daughter's classmates found out in july.
during all this time, be in frequent contact with your preferred
school. see if the principal has a ''list'' of his/her own of
interested out of neighborhood families. go to volunteer days
(garden/work days, festival, garage sale...), talk to current
parents, talk to the principal, the secretary, the parent
i nearly gave up on my preferred school, and switched to the
waiting list of a school i thought we'd stand more chance of
getting into (one where the waiting list was shorter). two days
later the principle of my preferred school called me and curtly
said, ''i'm about to take everyone on the waiting list, and you
are in my 'book,' but you are not on the waiting list. get on
it.'' i quickly made a phone call and sent an email to OUSD to
switch us back to our preferred school's list, and we got in that
next day. the principals do not have the ability to pick and
choose from the waiting list, but they DO want motivated
families, and will help you though the process, if you show them
you are willing to invest your time and energy in their school.
signed: learned to have nerves of steel
Have you talked to any of the families that attend the school? I
find that many people just assume the school is bad - based on
what other people say, what the papers say, what real estate
agents say, etc. Visit the school, meet the parents/families/kids
... then decide.
I am in the Oakland Unified School district..the elementary
school my son has been assigned to is Santa Fe....unacceptable
according to lots, including people who work for the district. I
filled out an ''options'' form listing Peralta as my n8mber one
choice...but we were turned down for everything...all six
options. I filed an appeal, but was again turned down. I cannot
afford a private school, didn't win the NOCCS lottery...I feel
totally helpless. I cannot send him to a school that I would have
considered a nightmare as a kid.. I went to all public schools in
Berkeley...including continuation high school, so I'm no prude.
anyone have any ideas? thanks, tresca
I am assuming that Santa Fe is your neighborhood school. It was placed
on PI starting in the 2006-2007 school year. This probably didn't
assist you in the lottery, although it would give you lottery priority
if you were to delay and re-apply next year (is this an option for
you?) If you reapply, then make a more conservative first choice, not
somewhere so wildly popular as Peralta, Chabot, etc that can't even
accomodate siblings. My understanding of the lottery is that choices
2-6 on your list are basically ignored because the lottery tries to
assign everyone to their first choice first and that fills all the
seats leaving no room for 2nd choices, 3rd choices, etc.
There are more charters than NOCCs: Lighthouse, Berkeley Maynard, and
EBCC are all in North Oakland. You have missed that application
deadline, but all are posssibilities if you go for it again next year.
Berkeley Maynard (in the old Golden Gate School on San Pablo) is new
(so not wildly popular YET) and accepted applications until the start
of school last year: check with them, thay may have space available.
-Parent in the Santa Fe neighborhood
I need advice on what tack to take to get my child into
kindergarten at our local school, Hillcrest. Although we have
lived in the area for years and registered on time, this year our
child and several others were turned away. (The rumor is 25.)
They have also decreased the class size by 10. I immediately got
on the waiting list, but the district didn't give me any
information about how that list works. The principal and staff
are being evasive.
The school he was enrolled at is much farther from our house, and
not what we want.
Can anyone tell me how we can find out how many children were
turned away, how the waiting list works, whether the school has
to at least go back to the class size it had last year to
accomodate a few more children, whether it can use its large
excess funds raised by the PTA(over 100K) to help accomodate
displaced children? Does the school have any legal
responsibilities to neighborhood children? Who in city
government can advocate for us?
Has anyone else been displaced from their local school in
Oakland, and if so what did you do about it?
We cannot afford private school, and really didn't think would
would have to.
Check out the Tues March 20 SF Chronicle. There's an article about
Redwood Hts and how 15 local families were redirected for
Kindergarten. They had an emergency PTA meeting and it appears that
the school district is going to put in a portable and let all these
families in. I think it's a Chip Johnson or CW Nevius column? Maybe
the Redwood Hts PTA can give you advice.
The principal at our Oakland Public School sent out an e-mail
reminding parents who are disappointed about their assignments that
there is an appeal period (which apparently has to be done through the
District Student Assignment Office--Portable 15). She has also told
parents that when that process is over, parents can request to be
placed on waiting lists. If a family is willing to wait until the
last minute for an assignment or will accept a transfer at any point
during the school year, it is very likely you can end up at your first
choice school. In her experience, there are always families who move
out of the area, transfer their child to a preferred school or choose
to send their children to private school, so spaces will open. Our
principal says parents who keep in touch weekly and are eager to
enroll in a particular school often can make a change. She wants to
keep our school fully enrolled because it keeps the money flowing. So
she enrolls children throughout the school year. She also wants to
enroll families enthusiastic about attending our school because their
participation is so much stronger than families who wish their kids
could go somewhere else.
To be honest, I wish families who don't want to go to our school could
transfer out to their first choice school. Instead of working hard to
create the school experience they wish for, some dissatified parents
just discourage and sap the energy of the rest of us. Even the best
schools aren't perfect.
I know a lot of us don't want to upset our Kindergartners by enrolling
them at the last minute or moving them after they get settled
somewhere. But you can work to prepare your child for that
eventuality if you think your first choice school is the best place
for child to attend. When we didn't get the Kindergarten assignment
we had hoped for, I chose to keep my child at her assigned school.
It's actually worked out very well for us. But I know others who have
transferred and it's worked out well for them, too. Even a mid-year
transfer can make sense if you think your child will attend the school
of your choice for many years. A child could be at their elementary
school for six years. So several months out of so many years may not
be that significant for many children.
I think you deserve to send to your child to your neighborhood school.
(I read in Tuesday's Oakland Tribune that a family who did not get
into their neighborhood school was told it was a mistake by the the
District Assignment Office and assured that their child would be
re-assigned. So you might find it easy to get your child
re-assigned.) But where ever your child ends up going, I hope you can
make it a great experience for your child.
You are not alone. This has happened across many ''hills
schools'' in Oakland. I live in Redwood Heights and 16 families
in our neighborhood were redirected to an underperforming
school nearby. In our case OUSD and the principal had stated
previously that all neighborhood kids would get in. That,
combined with pressure for the displaced parents and other
concerned citizens, led OUSD to reverse its decision and make
room for all children within the Redwood Heights School
boundaries. Official letters have not gone out yet and they are
trying to figure out how to accommodate a huge number of
incoming kindergartners. If I were you, I'd get together with
displaced parents and others in your neighborhood and demand
that your children are admitted through any means possible. One
final consideration: there are families that use false
addresses to enroll their children in the desirable ''hills
schools''. OUSD should be encouraged to do surprise home visits
to deter this practice. It's only fair that legitimate
residents of the neighborhood are admitted first.
The SF Chronicle wrote about what happened in our neighborhood:
Redwood Heights neighbor
Unfortunately, we hear that there were over 65 kids trying to
get into Hillcrest this year. Given that there are normally 2
classes of 20, that means that the excess represents even more
than one extra class. It may seem like the principal is being
evasive as you noted but this is really a district issue. She
can't make space when there is no space at the school. It seems
that they did a lottery after they let siblings of current
students in the neighborhood in, which sounds reasonable. Also,
they placed those who did not get into Hillcrest very close at
Chabot and Kaiser. Both of these are excellent, nearby schools
with good test scores. I recommend that you get on the waiting
list for Hillcrest just in case some people who got in don't go
there and that you visit the school to which you were admitted.
You will find that they are both great and that your child will
have other kids from the neighborhood at the school. I think
that being in a small classroom at one of these two schools
would be better than being in an overcrowded classroom at
A group of North Oakland/Temsecal parents who did not get their
Oakland school lottery choices are attempting to join forces to
make Emerson Elementary School (located in the vibrant Temescal
neighborhood) a viable option for our prospective
kindergarteners. (Emerson is the neighborhood school for most
of us; my daugher's local school is Santa Fe). We would love
to hear from any other Oakland parents in or out of the
neighborhood (the school is currently underenrolled) who would
like to help us make Emerson a vital school. You can email me,
or better yet, show your interest at
I think that not getting in to your Oakland elementary school of
choice if you don't live in the neighborhood of one of the higher
rated schools is a problem of supply and demand, rather than a
problem with the Oakland School district registration office.
There was a report in the Montclarion last fall that quoted
several principals of local schools saying that the new
registration process would have little or no effect on their
schools because the students all or mostly come from the
neighborhood. As long as my children have been in the OUSD,
Hillcrest has not offered spaces to children outside the area,
and this is now true of Thornhill. At Joaquin Miller, there have
been only a handful of spaces open in kindergarten each year to
children outside the neighborhood (and a long waiting list).
In previous years, parents registered at the local school so you
knew where your child would attend elementary school, and it was
a given that the open enrollment period to change schools would
result in only a few available spaces at the coveted schools. My
feeling is that the new central registration process has given
parents false hope that there are suddenly more spaces available
at the top rates schools, leading people to believe that there
was a better chance of getting in than in previous years. From
what I see, this isn't the case. Montclair and Rockridge are
full of little kids (''baby boomlet''?) and, as the cost of private
education and life in the bay area gets more expensive, more
people in these areas will send their kids to public school. For
the first time in several years, Joaquin Miller has 3
kindergarten and 3 first grade classes.
Mom and supporter of Oakland schools
I also applied through the OUSD Options process for several of
the high performing elementary schools -- for the record, I
think there are at least 8, and probably 10 or more. However,
our neighborhood school, Piedmont Avenue, is not Program
Improvement, and there isn't an older sibling already attending
one of the schools we applied to... You guessed it, we were not
given a spot anywhere except back in our neighborhood. After
the process was over, I exchanged e-mails with Noah Bookman, who
is the architect of the Options process for OUSD, and who had
already answered questions for me via e-mail prior to the
Lottery taking place. He let me know that ''At kindergarten, 278
students were admitted through the open lottery round or
approximately 12%. However, almost none of these admissions
were at our most sought after schools. We had approximately 250
students assigned to their neighborhood schools because they
were not admitted to one of their selections.''
We also applied
to a charter school, only to find ourselves competing
(unsuccessfully) with 74 other families, for 5 kindergarten
spots! To me, it seems pretty clear that we will not be able to
transfer to an already excellent public school outside of the
neighborhood, this year or in the near future. Therefore, I am
hoping to feel comfortable sending my child to our neighborhood
school next year -- we're doing 1 more year of preschool, for a
number of reasons. For those who live in the Piedmont Avenue
Elementary School neighborhood, and are thinking some of these
same thoughts, I hope that you will sign up for the Yahoo group
I started. Here's the information:
Group name: walktoschool
Group home page: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/walktoschool
Let's talk about what we can do together so that our kids really
can walk to an excellent Oakland elementary school.
Piedmont Ave parent
I have several friends and acquaintances who have children
starting kindergarten in the fall. They put in intradistrict
transfers, since their assigned school was considered really
awful by most measures. None of them got accepted to any of the
schools they listed on the intradistrict transfer forms. I also
have a daughter starting kindergarten this fall, and I put in my
forms for transfer as well, but can probably kiss that (already
mediocre) solution goodbye, as I didn't even make the open
enrollment deadline. I have also applied to three different
charter schools in the area, all three of which have admitted
that they have received around 100 applications for anywhere
from 5 to 15 spaces, with decisions made by lottery. I have
even looked at numerous private schools, though I cannot afford
them. I am overwhelmed, stressed, and full of anxiety about
what my daughter's education will hold for her next year. As a
single, working parent, options are limited, so the really
wonderful cooperative schools and homeschooling are,
unfortunately, out of the question for now. But I am desperate
not to put my daughter in our assigned school, (Emerson
Elementary), which I've heard horrible things about. A couple
of people have mentioned being in similar circumstances. What
is the possibility of forming a small group of parents to hire a
kindergarten teacher? Has anyone heard of anyone doing this
kind of thing? Or does anyone have any other advice for me? I
could really use any information anyone can offer! Thanks!
My advice is to visit the school (whether elementary, middle or
high school) before becoming desperate. If the school does not
allow visits, ask the office or PTA if there are any
opportunities to volunteer in a work day, the library, or to
read stories to younger students. In the course of my job, I
have visited several schools with horrible reputations and found
them to be just fine, schools to which I would send my child.
that sounds terrible. There is a public school or two in
Oakland that have open enrollment, and need students. One is up
near the top of Broadway near Claremont -- can't think of the
name right now, but its reasonably close to berkeley. you can go
on line to the oakland school district and find it. its a really
good school. also, though at this point its getting really
really last minute, you can apply to a private school or a
Catholic Private school and ask for tuition assistance and you
would likely qualify. That is what we do, and what many of the
people I know do who don't have the extra funds for it. We are
very grateful for the support and help, and it makes a huge
difference in our ability to go to an independant school. I
think of it this way: if we were to go to a public school (in
oakland) I'd be spending the same amount of money on after
school care plus other enhancements.
OUSD Options - Requesting a Non-Neighborhood School
Our family will be in the East Bay area for the 2014-2015 school year (husband
doing sabbatical) and we'll most likely be renting in Montclair. We're trying
to fill out a ''late'' enrollment app for a school slot at one of several
schools in the Montclair area. Wondering how to rank the following schools (the
app requires 6 schools listed) when we don't know a lot about them (we used to
live in Montclair when our daughter was little and knew that Thornhill was a
good school...) Our daughter will be going into the 5th grade. We're thinking
of putting some of the following schools on our list: Montclair, Thornhill,
Joaquin Miller, Chabot, Kaiser, Peralta, Hillcrest, Crocker Highlands... Thanks
for any insights!
All of the schools on your list are great, but all are popular with long wait
lists, so you may not get into any through late enrollment unless you are in the
school zone. I would try to find out which schools might have open places in the
fifth grade and rank them based on that likelihood. If you're renting in
Montclair, get your lease signed ASAP and provide that to OUSD and it will bump
you to the top of the list for any openings at whichever school you're zoned to.
Montclair Elementary is likely a good bet from your list simply because it's a
large school, so more chance of turnover (coupled with the fact that you may be
in the school zone anyway). Chabot is also on the larger side, so might have
openings. Kaiser is somewhat less popular/less well known than the others, so
might also be a better bet. The good news is that it does tend to be easier to
get into these schools in the upper grades. Good luck--and the sooner you can
get your lease squared away, the better!
Another Oakland parent
You can't go wrong with any of those schools--there's a lot of love for all of
them. It's easier to get a 5th grade spot than a kindy spot, so it seems likely
you'll get one of your top 2 or 3 choices. Also, it sounds like you will be
here for one year only, in which case you don't have to think about middle
school (kids like to go where their friends go), so really your only issue is
commute. I am a big fan of walking to school. If that's not an option, then at
the very least I would not put a freeway in my commute to school. So I guess
what I'm trying to say is choose a local school. You will have no regrets when
your child can easily get to a friend's house after school, birthday parties are
more local, etc. It will be easier to build yourself a little community. Good
luck and welcome to Oakland!
We're thinking about buying a house in Oakland and in our research discovered
that the elementary schools aren't that great. They rank about 2-3 on
I've heard that if you don't want you child to attend the school in your
neighborhood, you can apply to be in a lotto for the school you desire. Does
anyone know about this or have personal experience with this situation? The
housing market is insane enough, but schools add a whole new layer to it.
We did the lottery and got into Montclair. Other people we know did the lottery and didnt
get placed anywhere. I've heard that if you don't get in anywhere, appeals can be
We like Montclair but definitely get the side eye from neighborhood families like we
don't belong (and I've talked with other lotteried families that agree). If I was making
my top five over again I'd probably pick other schools and not just look at the API as
First off, Great Schools is a NOT a reliable resource for assessing whether a school or
district is good or not. It just happens to be an easy site to go to. The best way to
find out about any school is to talk to people who have kids there. OUSD has plenty of
wonderful schools and others that are not as well resourced. After you do a bit more
research, you can post questions about specific schools here to get a better picture
about what is really going on.
If you go to the OUSD website there is a description of the options process for school
Happy OUSD parent
Highly recommend Chabot Elem. We transferred from private Montessori to Chabot, and the
transition was easy. Great teachers, beautiful library, diverse student body, strong
parental involvement. If you are out of district you should apply at district office.
My family is a recent transplant to the east bay so hoping someone can help. We're
currently renting in oakland with our older son enrolled in a K program we're very
happy with. However, our lease is up in the winter and we're looking for a house.
Until now, we've been focused on other homes in our very small zone, and frankly
there just isn't much out there.
I believe I understand from the Ousd website that once enrolled, we could move my
son out of zone and he could remain enrolled at his current school. Has anyone done
Similarly, if we moved to Berkeley, could we keep him in an oakland school?
Any help is appreciated!
Yes, once you have a spot at an OUSD school you can move anywhere in Oakland and
keep that spot. But if you move to Berkeley, officially you have to be released
by BUSD, then accepted by OUSD, in order to continue at your Oakland school. I
don't know anyone who's attempted this and have no idea how likely it is to
Another OUSD mom
I'm curious as to how the OUSD options process went this year. I heard
about Crocker being over-subscribed and neighborhood kids getting turned
away. Did this happen for any other schools (beside the usual suspects --
Hillcrest, Thornhill, Redwood Heights)? I'm curious about Glenview,
Montclair and Peralta mostly. Did all the neighborhood kids get into these
schools? Did any non-neighborhood kids get in? In general, did parents get
the assignments they were hoping for, or were there a lot of disappointed
families? Thank you.
Adams' Point Mama
This is a rant. We live in Crocker Highlands, bought in this
neighborhood specifically because we were told we would get into the
school and did not. Beyond disappointed about the school closings in
OUSD. I'm wondering how long it will take Crocker residents to realize
that their property values (including ours) are going to plummet with
the loss of the school being a given. OUSD is a mess. Decisions are made
with short-term goals in mind. They saved a million bucks by closing and
displacing kids at five schools??!!. And they're turning one of the
closed schools into the new OUSD headquarters--doing construction WHILE
SCHOOL IS STILL IN SESSION!!?? Is anyone paying attention? Are the kids
at Lakeview at risk due to exposure to potentially hazardous
construction materials? I hear they're talking about closing more. I'd
start looking at independent schools and financial aid.
Upset Crocker Resident
We got our first choice (not our home school), Sequoia Elementary, which is a
great school with wonderful teachers and awesome supportive families. OUSD did
right by us & we couldn't be happier!
Happy Sequoia mama-to-be
It went great for us: we got into our 1st choice school, Sequoia Elementary!
Our home school is Cleveland, which we would have been fine with since it
really is also a great school, but a lot of my daughter's friends are also
going to Sequoia and we wanted to keep her with them.
After researching the OUSD options process, we knew it would be pointless to
try for Hillcrest, Thornhill, even Redwood Heights, so we ruled out those
schools & researched lots of others and found Sequoia to be the best fit for
our family. With all the school closures, we were expecting to go through the
appeals process, but it didn't come to that. It may have been due to the fact
that they were opening a 4th kindergarten class, which we found out at an open
I know there are a million different ways of looking at this
and a thousand different opinions, but what are people
doing? Should I try for a competitive well reputed school
where there are 30 kids per class starting in 1st grade (my
dtr's year) or one that has more resources and smaller class
sizes, but was totally underwhelming when I toured? Is it
worth it to try to get into Thornhill being outside the
neighborhood, especially as schools are being closed and
kids are being moved in (increasing competition for those
precious few 1st grade spots in any good school). I'm
thinking of Thornhill, Joaquin Miller, RedwoodHts, Sequoia
(my neighborhood school) Glenview, Crocker. Any ideas?
Unfortunately I don't have any answers--hopefully others who have
transferred after kindergarten can weigh in--but we have been looking at
a similar list of schools and it's my understanding that even in the
upper grades, the OUSD preferences still guide enrollment (so because
your neighborhood school is high-performing, they would assign all
siblings, neighborhood kids, and students from schools in Program
Improvement before getting to your daughter). The students from closing
schools have already been assigned, though, so that's not a factor
(though it undoubtedly affected how many available spots remain). We have
several friends with kids at Sequoia who love it--I'd look closely at
that, since it's your neighborhood school and you'll be far more likely
to get a spot there since you'd be at the top of the list. Good luck!
You could call the individual schools now and see if there are any
kindergarten spots (due to people moving mid-year) and try to switch
schools now. I do hear good things about all of those schools that you
mention. As between two schools that are comparable, I'd choose the one
with the lower class size because the teacher can get to know 20 kids way
easier than 30 kids, and because the kids get a chance to get
attention/participate more often and are more engaged. Also there's just
a smaller chance of getting a really disruptive kid when there's 20 kids.
Hi, I think if you are really committed to a school, you should apply for
it as your first school and then be really persistent (with both the
school and the district) if you don't get it. Don't list a school in your
first three choices if you are not super excited about it.
Thornhill is our neighborhood school (and our first choice) but I don't
think it is out of reach for you -- even if it's full after the options
process, things will change as time goes on (people opt for private
school or change their minds, move, etc.) You only need ONE spot so stick
with it and be enthusiastic and persistent. The only school this doesn't
apply to is Hillcrest -- not even room for those in the 'hood.
Opinions, not insight!
You are asking what people are doing. People are doing a lot of things.
Several years ago, my family only listed our neighborhood school,
Sequoia, and we've been very happy there, so much so that I can't really
understand living in the attendance area and trying to get out. However,
other families in the neighborhood chose other schools. I'm not sure why
but my guess is that they thought those schools were ''better'' in some
way. Anyone can find all of the statistics (''Live/Go'' info) on the OUSD
website. Sequoia has a new principal who is smart, thoughtful, and
committed to serving the needs of all of Sequoia's kids. She has a plan
for keeping the school open in time of closures and for returning to
small class sizes in K, 1, and 2. There are many, many amazing teachers
at the school, and the community is wonderful in many ways, but it's not
for everyone. Those who want a more affluent school are probably right to
look up the hill.
so glad I didn't over think it
We are looking to apply to transfer within Oakland. Our son starts
Kindergarten in the fall. From what I can tell reading on BPN and
talking to others it makes no sense at all to put schools in my
application that are overcrowded as is (i.e. Chabot, Hillcrest,
Thornhill). I know parents are happy with Kaiser and that they
need to increase enrollment for the fall. What other schools do
people feel are headed in a positive direction, have strong school
leadership, and have a creative nurturing school environment? In
other words...what are some other ''gems'' I should look at THAT
WE MIGHT HAVE A PRAYER OF GETTING INTO??! Thank you! Sarah
Glenview and Cleveland are both on their way up with active parent
Slated for Lakeview
I recently wrote in to BPN about Emerson Elementary and all the
exciting things happening there. We've got great teachers, a
wonderful new principal, an active PTO and a ton of great new
enrichment, including music, poetry and art. We're in the Temescal
neighborhood, but families come from all over Oakland. Definitely
call to arrange a tour.
Glenview comes to mind, but sorry, I don't have firsthand info. Just
the word on the street.
I realize this is a bit of an annoying question, but here goes.
Our child will be entering kindergarten next fall and we live in the Crocker
Highlands neighborhood. Our first choice is actually Chabot (for a number of
reasons that I won't get into- I realize they're both great schools).
My first thought was that we'd be safe with choosing Chabot first, Crocker
second because we could be assured a space in the neighborhood school if we
didn't get Chabot (a likely scenario given how popular Chabot is). Anyone know
if we would be shooting ourselves in the foot with this plan? Do we give up our
neighborhood slot by doing this?
You won't get into Chabot. The few available slots for
the 'preferred' public schools go to kids whose
neighborhood school is a low-performing school. Since
your neighborhood school is a 'good' school, you won't be
thrown into the lottery.
We tried to get into Chabot 6 years ago (and a few other
preferred schools as well), but because our neighborhood
school was Peralta (a mid-range school at that time) we did
not get into any of our choices.
As of last year, you could put the first choice of
whatever you wanted and if you didn't get it, you would
then be defaulted to your neighborhood school. Either way,
both schools you mentioned are excellent, so you can't
really go wrong.
In the Oakland School District Options program, we are supposed
to list up to 6 schools in order of preference. Should we also
take into consideration whatever information we can learn about
which schools are likely to be full of neighborhood kids and not
taking any, or few students through Options? For example, if I
list ''The Perfect School'' as my first choice, but I don't get
in, will I be at a disadvantage in getting into ''Pretty Good
School'' that I listed as number two, since other people
listed ''Pretty Good School'' as their number one?
Along these lines, can anyone tell me which schools are
impossible to get into through the lottery?
Dear Oakland Mom,
Having been through the options process last year, though I have
no proof, I absolutely believe that it puts you at a
disadvantage to ''shoot for the moon'' with your top choices.
Last year, it seemed that most people who filled up most or all
of their choices with the most well-known and highly regarded
schools did not get a single one of their choices and were
assigned to their neighborhood schools, even if their own
schools were program improvement (which last year gave you third
priority after neighborhood kids and siblings). That said, our
school is program improvement and we did put ultra-popular
schools down as our first two choices--just to see if we could
get in--but were assigned to our third choice school and are now
very happy. After hearing other people's experiences, though, I
felt that we really gambled in making our choices and were very,
very lucky to even have been assigned to our third choice
school. My advice to you is to think very carefully not only
about the schools you choose, but about the order you put them
in. And if you are not successful into getting in to a school
that is acceptable to you, use the appeals process.
To answer your question about schools that are pretty much
impossible to get in to via the options process, and often don't
even have room for all neighborhood kids: Hillcrest, Thornhill,
Redwood Heights, Montclair, and Joaquin Miller. I believe that
Peralta is also now overenrolled.
Good luck in your search!
Another Oakland Mom
I haven't taken a poll, but I don't think I have met any who
got his or her second or third choice on the options-- unless
that choice was the crummy neighborhood school (Which most of
us put last!) What i have seen is that it pays to be informed,
persistant, and yes, to make strategic choices based on the
information one has (which differs year to year as OUSD tinkers
with the system and as school boundaries and politics change).
So, I suggest: start calling the district office and the
principals of the schools you are interested in and ask what
their projections are for enrollment. Keep calling for
updates. Then, if you don't get your first choice, update your
information and make your appeal (immediately!) based on that
updated info.Good luck!
Happy Kaiser Parent (who got in on appeal)
I am the parent of twins in Oakland who will enter K in 2009.
We will not enroll our kids at the neighborhood school (yes, I
have put in a lot of time looking into this school and am not
blowing it off without consideration). My question is, how in
particular does the Options process work for twins? We need
them to be in the same school, so are we that much more
disadvantaged because we need two spots instead of that one
lucky spot? Do the forms even have something on them to take
this into account (i.e., two siblings entering K who must be
placed at same school)?
-mama de gemelos
Your chance of getting out of your neighborhood school are
probablly 0. I tried this year to get my son into a good
kindergarten for 2008 because I too felt that my neighborhood
school was unacceptable. We did not get any of the 6 schools we
were willing to transfer to. I don't know ANYBODY who was able to
transfer out of their neighborhood school. I suggest that you
explore the independent/private school options and apply as this
may be your only option.
I just went through this process with my twins. I too was in a
position where the neighborhood school just wasn't where I
wanted my kids going, and in fact was preparing to move to
another district before the lousy housing market made me
reconsider and stick around to fight the good fight at OUSD.
There were a few things I did that were good strategies and a
few that were not. First, when I filed my form in January, I
listed as my top 3 or 4 schools, schools where while I would
have loved to see my kids go, I had a pretty good idea we
wouldn't get in due to oversubscription (Montclair, Thornhill,
Redwood Heights and Joaquin Miller), but figured they would take
pity on us and give us our 5th choice. Bad strategy: we got
assigned our neighborhood school, which wasn't even on my list.
(In fairness, though, most people I know got assigned to their
neighborhood schools initially, so I'm not sure it was my
strategy that failed.)
Second, because you can only target one school at a time to
appeal to, and I needed two spots, I chose to focus my energy on
a school I would be happy to send my kids to, that was a bit
under most OUSD parents' radar (at least it was - that is
changing), but where I thought I had the best chance of getting
Third, I went in a filed my appeal promptly, and treated the
office staff very well.
Fourth, I met with the principal to talk about the school and my
family, and why we were so exicted to attend this school.
Officially, the powers that be will tell you the principal has
no influence over school assignments, but I think the fact that
I got a call from the district the next day, and my twins were
accepted to this school within 2 weeks of that meeting, is
telling. I did not ask for assistance from the principal, just
met with her, learned more about the school, and shared with her
my family's situation. Lastly, be persistent -- persistent
without being a pest, that is. Also, if you are willing to be
hanging out until August not knowing where your kids will go to
school, I've heard there can be a lot of last minute shuffling
around that goes on right before school starts and even into the
first few weeks. While not ideal, if you have your sights set
on one of the more popular schools, it may be the only way to
And yes, they will place both your kids at the same school.
When you file your appeal (assuming you don't get your choice of
schools right off - although that is a possibility), make sure
you tell the office that you have twins. They will mark the
front of each application accordingly.
OUSD Twin Parent
I know so many people who did not get assigned to an out-of-neighborhood
school the first time around. It seems that OUSD is trying to get people to invest
their neighborhood schools (which may not be such a bad idea, because when it
happens, neighborhood investment usually produces success. Just look at Peralta,
Glenview, Sequoia, and others...there are many ''rising schools'' in OUSD that were
considered ''undesirable'' not so long ago, and there are many, many more that
could follow if people would take the leap and get involved). But anyway, once the
assignments happened, parents still had a choice. Those I know who were already
leaning private went private and claimed they did not have a choice, and complained
about Oakland and the options process, and how much their private tuition cost.
Those who were committed to public for whatever reason kept appealing, with
success. I know many, many people who got into their school of choice through
appeal. The uncertainty is hard for many (because we all love our kids, right?) but
there are ALWAYS spots at schools, especially at the last minute (yes, even at some
hills schools--I know kids who got into several of those via appeal) and I think
being open to a variety of schools and being persistent is good advice (unless
paying $30K+ a year to avoid that uncertainty seems like a good deal to you). (I
met a mom of twins who are going to a private school that is constantly praised on
this forum. I asked her how she liked it and she said, ''It (the tuition) is
life'' and ''We were too scared of our local school, but I bet we could have gotten
into ____ if we'd tried'') Your twins will get in somewhere. And despite what you
may hear from BPN or elsewhere, there are more than a handful of OUSD schools
Very happy at our non-hills school
We're gearing up for kindergarten and the Oakland Lottery for Fall 2009 and wanted
to get your feedback on 2008.
- Did you get your first, 2nd or any choices on your list? So far, I've only heard of
families getting their local schools.
- Is there anything you would do different?
- What school will you be attending in the fall?
Obviously we are nervous about the process, but hope for the best outcome
-Nervous Oakland Mom
You should assume that you will not get placed anywhere but
your neighborhood school. Don't let the name ''options'' fool
you. It's not right that the program is marketed the way that
it is because many families count on being able to go outside
their neighborhood and make no contingency plans, only to be
greatly disappointed. Of course go ahead and try, you never
know what factors will be in play from year to year, but having
just gone throught this I can tell you that no one from my
child's pre-school community got into a school other than their
neighborhood school. Look at your neighborhood school now or
early in the fall and decide whether or not it is acceptable to
you. If it isn't you should look at independent schools too
and be mindful of their timelines for tours and applications
which are due in January. Unfortunately this is the reality in
Oakland and it seems like it will only get worse with the
economy such as it is private school is not an option for many
people. There also seem to be a huge number of young children
living in Oakland because so many familes haved moved here
after being priced out of San Francisco and other areas. Good
luck, I hope it will be better next year but have a back up
The lottery for Oakland schools was a major dissappointment for
us. We did not get into our neighborhood school, and we paid a
premium for our house because of this school. Not only did we
not get into our neighborhood school, which only started turning
away kids this fall, we didn't get into our top 3 school choices
in Oakland, which we listed on our preference list of schools in
December. This lottery process was like a slap in the face
because we pay a premium in property taxes for a non-existent
police force, high crime, and now lack of a neighborhood
elementary school which is a block from our home. The appeals
process for Oakland is interesting, once we found out what the
process was. OUSD is not informative and when I called a few
times in December no one knew anything. I always reached
someone who said, ''talk to your neighborhood school.'' When you
call your neighborhood school, they say to talk to OUSD. It is
first come first serve on the Monday after you receive your OUSD
letters the first week of March and the waiting lists for the
schools are apparently based on timestamps for when you submit
your paperwork (though who really knows), which we didn't know
about. The waitlists or lotteries could just as easily be based
on new, multiple sibling families or certain areas getting
rejected. Most of the better elementary schools in Oakland are
impacted and are facing major dilemmas with how to handle the
overflow of children.
Sorry for weighing in late on this. We just went through the
lottery process and were thrilled to be assigned via the lottery
to our first choice school, and it's NOT our neighborhood school!
I know we're in the minority, and that the vast majority of
families were assigned to their neighborhood school regardless of
their choices (many, many of our friends are in this boat), but I
did want to share our experience so that others know that the
lottery process does work (sometimes). Some of the things I think
worked in our favor: we weren't targeting the highest performing
schools in the district (Thornhill, Montclair, Hillcrest etc,
because we were looking for more socioeconomic and racial
diversity than those schools offer); our top choice school has a
lower API score than our neighborhood school (and is therefore, I
presume, seen by many as less desirable); and I made myself a
complete thorn in the side of the staff at the district office
during the options enrollment process. Well, a pleasant,
respectful, friendly thorn in the side, but a nuisance
nonetheless. I also know several people who've gotten their
assignments changed through the appeals process by showing up at
the district office first thing in the morning the day after the
letters went out. I know the process can be daunting and
discouraging, but I've seen persistence pay off over and over
again. So be persistent! And check out LOTS of schools, there are
some great schools out there that for some reason aren't on
people's radar (yet). Cleveland, Sequoia, Glenview to name a few.
Happy OUSD Lottery parent
My son is zoned for a less than desirable public school in
Oakland so I am going to try out the lottery system as we
cannot afford a private school.
I am looking at Montclair, Joaquin Miller, Sequoia & Redwood
Elementary schools as they are close to where we live (near
Joaquin Miller Park) and seem like pretty good schools from
what I hear.
I wanted to get some feedback from parents on:
-how to approach the lottery system
-any ideas on how to improve my son's chances of getting into a
school (i.e. - joining the PTA of the school now)
-which schools afterschool programs are ok, good & great
Thanks for sharing your experience with me!
We have been Sequoia parents for 9 years now (older child in
middle school and younger one still at Sequoia), and we have
been extremely happy with the school. The teachers are
excellent and are very experienced at dealing with a wide range
of situations. We have always felt they have been very helpful
and eager to work with us to help our children. The current
principal is excellent and very helpful. I highly recommend
long term Sequoia parent
Dont' target Redwood Heights! This school was way
oversubscribed last year and 16 neighborhood kids were
displaced. Although these kids were later admitted into the
largest K class ever at the school, there was absolutely no
room for families through the open lottery. As a smaller school
than most in the hills, Redwood Heights will likely continue to
be fully subscribed by neighborhood children over the next few
The best quality schools to target through the open lottery are
Kaiser and Glenview in my opinion. I know people who got into
both schools through the open lottery this past spring. If you
are denied initially, act quickly with an appeal and be
persistant and patient. Good luck!
Redwood Heights Parent
My child will not start kindergarten until next fall, but I have been involved with my
neighborhood school, Sequoia, for several years now. Through volunteering and
attending school events, I have found a wonderfully diverse and interesting family
population, a very talented, stable staff, and an accessible, intelligent, energetic
principal. The school has been designated an Alameda County Arts Anchor School,
and you can see new art going up inside and out. There is a thriving garden
program and an active Dads' Club, among other things. And two brand-new play
structures were installed over the summer, which are getting a lot of use!
Sequoia does not have test scores as high as the other schools you mentioned, nor
does it raise as much money as those schools. This may work in your favor as far as
the lottery goes, as those seem to be the determining factors as far as which
schools parents most frequently request. As a teacher myself, I believe there is more
to a good school than test scores, and I like much of what I have found at Sequoia. I
think Sequoia is one of the best-kept secrets in OUSD and feel lucky to have access
to the school without having to try and get in via the lottery.
To find out more, you could check out www.sequoiaschool.net, or attend the
Prospective Parents' Night at 7pm on Tuesday, November 13th. There are also very
current posts from parents at www.greatschools.net.
Good luck with your search!
Hi, I thought that one's child was eligible to go to a
particular Oakland public school based on home address, but I
see BPN members talk about Oakland public school assignments,
options, and being turned down on application forms. Can someone
explain how the system works? Thanks.
Here is how Oakland works. Parents fill out the options form
listing up to 6 schools in order of preference. If you like
your neighborhood school, you would probably put that as the
first one on the list. Oakland accepts those forms until close
to the end of January and then proceeds to issue school
assignments. The assignment priority is as follows:
1. Children who currently reside in the neigborhood boundary
of the school and who have siblings currently attending the
school are admitted first.
2. If space remains after the children in (1) are admitted,
other children who currently reside in the neighborhood are
3. If there is not enough space for the children in (2), there
is a lottery system to pick the names of the kids in category
(2) who will receive the remaining spaces. The rest of the
children under (2) are assigned to schools based on how they
filled out the options form. If the parents of those children
did not select another school option, the child is assigned to
a nearby school in Oakland Unified.
4. If there is still space after the neighborhood children are
assigned, the school will accept next siblings of students
currently at the school but who do not live in the
5. After that, children who do not have a sibling at the
school and who do not live in the neighborhood would be
accepted. Children whose neighborhood school is a program
improvement school would then have priority over other children
whose neighborhood school is not a program improvement school.
If you fill out the options form, your child is not assigned to
your first choice, and you reside in the neighborhood, you can
be placed on a waiting list in case someone who was admitted
moves or chooses another school option. Admissions occur right
up until school starts or even later.
If this year is any indication, there are several schools in
Oakland that will likely have too many children seeking to
enroll in kindergarten based on the spaces available for
2008/2009. This year that happened, but because the district
could have done better at communicating with parents that they
are not guaranteed their neighborhood school, the District has
made accommodations this year for folks that were confused and
that appealed their child's assignment.
It would be prudent for 2008/2009 for people to list other
Oakland public schools that would be acceptable in case your
neighborhood has a large entering K class and to consider
applying to private schools also.
The good news is that even when other public school assignments
are needed, the kids are generally placed together at a very
nearby school (usually closer than the nearby private schools)
so there remains the neighborhood feel and the ability to have
playdates with kids from your class in the neighborhood and
there is also diversity and broader experiences available. So
the best advice is to fill out the form, visit all the schools
that are nearby your home and consider all of your options!
We live in Oakland a few blocks outside of the Crocker Highland
district line. Is there anyway to get our children into Crocker
since we live so close without moving? If so, what is the process?
Please let me know.
You should call Noah Bookman at the OUSD assignment office.
Things might be different this year but last year the process
was like this: You get up to 7 choices of schools in the ''Open
Enrollment'' process--which, if you are wanting to opt out of
your assigned school--is a lottery. At some date, I think in
March or April, you will get your assignment. It will most
likely be your assigned neighborhood school. You then can
appeal it, and choose 1 school on the appeal form. Fax in your
appeal right away, because waiting lists form in order
received. (Last year we got our choice, Kaiser, on appeal a day
or two after I faxed in my appeal). If your appeal gets turned
down, there is one more shot, after the first week or school or
so, when the schools find out what their actual enrollment is.
If you are high on th waiting list you have a good shot at
getting in (lots of folks in the better neighborhoods enroll
but end up sending kids to private school or follks move etc).
It really pays to stay informed: be a pain to Noah Bookman,
let him know who you are, ask as many questions as you need to
to understand the process. Call and visit the school or
schools you are interested in. Talk to the principals to get
their take on what they think their enrollment will be. Some
schools keep a list of interested families, to call after that
first week. The fact is, OUSD wants enrollment and especially
middle class enrollment. Last year I was in touch with 10-12
families all involved in the process and wanting to get out of
our assigned school and all of us eventually got into a decent
school. It is nerve wracking but you need not despair! You may
not get in to Crocker Highlands but you will get in somewhere!
(I highly recommend Kaiser!)
Though we want to support our Oakland neighborhood
school, we might want to attend someone else's Oakland
neighborhood school. I want to make wise choices in the
lottery, raising our chances rather than lowering them. I've
heard enough negative stories, are their good stories? If we
have to attend our neighborhood school, so be it, the
system won't get better if we don't support it .
among the ususal ousd requested schools we put down glenview
since a friend of ours lives in that neighborhood. that is the
one we got! aside from the drive out there we really like it.
my daughter is in kindergarten and to start, we are very happy
with her teacher. the diversity is exactly what we would have
wanted in any school for her. there is near equal
representation of white, latino, african american and asian
families. there are mixed races families, lesbian/gay families,
hetero families, single parent families, all sorts. and a lot
of these parents are very involved in the school and are doing
what they can to better it. next weekend there is a big
gardening event. most of the tired old plants have been removed
and are going to be replaced with natives and drought tolerant
plants. I think this will make a HUGE visual improvement which
in turn will further school pride among the students. score
wise it is doing quite well, I believe it received 814 in the
last round of testing. at the first parent meeting of the
school year the principal called glenview ''the best kept secret
so if you are going to go public, which I am glad we did, you
should check out glenview.
We live in the Chabot School District. But from reading
various posts, I'm beginning to get concerned that my daughter
may not get in, regardless. Is it possible that she won't get
in even if we live in the district??
Our daughter is currently a K student at Chabot; we live in the
district. It is a fabulous school, and thus very popular for
transfers. As long as you follow the new district guidelines for
registering--most importantly, doing it early--you should be
fine. Next year, from what I am told, there were 70 in-district
kids who enrolled. That left only 10 spaces for transfers.
Yes-- it is a possibility that you won't get into your
neighborhood school. It happened to us this year, even though
we registered when we were supposed to, along with everyone
else. We've lived in our home for over 10 years, not that this
has anything to do with the process. However, I do not think
people are getting bumped from Chabot. Usually your child gets
bumped to something somewhat close by. We weren't thrilled with
what we were bumped to, although there is nothing seriously
wrong with the alternative that was offered to us. We've
decided to go elsewhere, after this experience with OUSD.
Is anyone else getting the feeling that Oakland Unified is quietly
''choice'' system similar to Berkeley and San Francisco? Although
officially we have a
''neighborhood school policy'' the district has taken over the job of
which used to happen at the school sites. I would be interested to hear
I don't live in the Chabot district, but I live in an Oakland
neighborhood with a very good elementary school. I have the
same concerns that you do. The number of people (living within
the neighborhood boundaries) applying to our local elementary
school seems to have doubled in just a handful of years.
Everywhere I turn in the neighborhood, new families are moving
in and most of them want to send their children to the local
school. My own theory is that private schools are less
affordable with the rise in housing prices and mortgages.
Unfortunately neighborhood schools aren't required to take
neighborhood kids, although in the recent past this usually
hasn't been a problem. With the current ''baby boomlet'' or trend
to support good neighborhood schools, some neighborhood kids
will probably not be offered spots at their local school. (It
also doesn't help that there are those who cheat & lie to
obtain spaces, depriving others of spots - you may have
followed the recent thread about this issue). I would like to
know what Oakland will be doing to accommodate neighborhood
kids in the future
The OUSD ''options'' assignment process has been confusing and
frustrating for me too, but I have found the Student Assignment
Office to be pretty responsive to my questions. If you have
questions or concerns about the process, the numbers &
statistics, waiting lists etc. call the assignment office and
talk to Noah Bookman or send him an email ((510) 879-8111;
enroll[at]ousd.k12.ca.us). There are a lot of rumors and
misconceptions floating around -- if you want to get to the
bottom of it, contact the District
Can anyone give insight to what is happening to the Oakland
Public School kindergarten transfers? All the letters seemed
to have gone out after the 15th and most people I have talked
to did not get any of their choices, but their neighborhood
school they wanted to transfer out of. Was there an
overwhelming amount of applicants or was it the new system? If
anyone knows what happened your insights would be appreciated
by many upset and frustrated parents. Thanks!
There are only four decent elementary schools in Oakland. Not
coincendentally, these are the same elementary schools that are
NOT underenrolled. Consequently, there are only one or two
kindergarten spots available at each school. Compare that to
the numerous failing schools all accross Oakland, and the
hundreds, maybe thousands of parents who want to get out of
them. You do the math. I was personally very dissappointed
with the results of the open enrollment process.
I would also like to put in my two cents on another, slightly
related subject: It seems to have become unfashionable to put
stock in standardized test scores (I saw two postings this week
in which people discounted poor test scores). I would like to
point out that while there are many aspects to a child's
development (social, emotional, etc.), the objective of school
is (or should be) academic development. Standardized test scores
DO measure academic acheivement (allbeit not perfectly), and
what they show about the Oakland public schools in general is
dismal. I just read a fantastic book that I would recommend to
anyone who is frustrated with OUSD. It is called ''Cheating our
kids, how politics and greed ruin education'' by Joe Williams.
I didn't see the original question posted here, but it was
disheartening to see that
only one person answered and his/her opening statements were ''There
four decent elementary schools in Oakland. Not coincendentally, these
are the same
elementary schools that are NOT underenrolled.'' This is patently
false. (And it
makes me wonder which schools they are referring to.) I'm surprised
moderator let this slip through the cracks. There are
''underenrolled'' schools that
have excellent test scores - just go to greatschools.net and check it
out - Kaiser, for
one, is a hidden gem that almost no one in the neighborhood attends,
has a ranking
of 9 out of 10 and high, high scores. And, this is just one. The
beauty of this
network is we parents get to give and receive very helpful information
another. The problem with it is that sometimes the information given
is simply not
based in fact.
-Happy OUSD mom at an ''underenrolled'' school
I want to respond to the post regarding Oakland kindergartens in the
Schools digest. An annonymous parent stated, '' There are only four
elementary schools in Oakland. '' I don't believe this statement to be
There are several schools in Oakland, Peralta and Sequoia among them,
are centered in less affluent communities than the hills school, but
wonderful educational environments. We applied for an intradistrict
before our daughter started kindergarten to generate options for her
making a decision where she would go. After she ''won'' a space in one
sought after hills schools we did our research and school visits. In
the end we
enrolled our daughter at Sequoia Elementary, our neighborhood public
and have been very pleased with the both the education offered and the
of the school. Our daughter is being well educated ( as well as her
Montclair ) and loves school. The kindergarten teachers at Sequoia are
jewels, and the new principal is fantastic. We can't wait for our son
kindergarten at Sequoia next fall, so that we can all experience the
Check out parent reviews for Seqoia at www.greatschools.net
A well educated mother of a well educated child...
Susan Stoeffler, LMFT
I respectfully disagree that there are only four decent
elementary schools in Oakland. I have spent time in OUSD
elementary schools and have observed some wonderful teachers and
well run schools. If you have a specific experience, by all
means share it. Generalizations are not helpful to anyone and
negative generalizations are hurtful to many.
I found ''frustrated'''s posting on this topic to be needlessly
alarmist, as well as elitist. There are more than ''four decent
elementary schools in Oakland.'' Without thinking hard, I can
name twice as many. I assume the poster's four are Hillcrest,
Thornhill, Joaquin Miller and Montclair. But look at the
postings just in the same newsletter praising Crocker Highlands,
Kaiser, Redwood Heights, and the teacher with wonderful things
to say about Carl Munck. Happy parents have posted recently
about Chabot, Glenview, Peralta (check the Archives) and various
Oakland charter schools which are, after all, public schools.
The poster is certainly entitled to his/her opinion; however,
except for the book recommendation, the posting didn't include
any concrete, helpful information for the many worried parents
who read and post to this list. What led the poster to conclude
that there are only four? Test scores? rumors? personal
experience? School decisions are so emotionally loaded for
parents. They don't need more to worry about. There ARE very
good public elementary schools in Oakland. My daughter is in
one (probably not of one the poster's fabulous four).
Oakland Public school mom
I am sorry to hear that you didn't get into one of the 4 schools
in Oakland that you consider ''decent''. Have you considered
renting in a district with very high performing schools?
I was curious to read your post in favor of putting more (not
less) stock in test scores. In light of the current scandal with
the Educational Testing Service (ETS) incorrectly scoring SAT's
for thousands of high school seniors and the subsequent cover-up
of the scope of the problem, I have even less confidence in
machine-scored tests than I did before. I am also deeply
concerned that we have entrusted our high stakes testing to a
handful of largely unregulated for-profit businesses.
Should schools be held accountable for teaching children to read
and do math? Of course they should. But in order to do this for
the least amount of money possible, schools now rely on
dumbed-down tests that can be read by a machine and the
curriculum is geared toward ensuring that students score well on
States who prefer to include essay questions on their test which
cannot be machine scored are forced to convert to bubble-in
answer scheets because the feds want annual testing. And the
people who largely benefit are for-profit test providers and
for-profit Supplementary Service providers.
I would rather spend less time on test prep, taking tests, and
sweating test scores, and have more time for literature, dance,
music, art, and science in public school classrooms. Maybe that's
a fashionable view or just a cynical one but after 4 years as a
public school parent, I see a few benefits from ''accountability''
but many troubling trends too.
I also take issue with the person who wrote ''there are only
four good schools in Oakland''. We live in Montclair, and were
assigned what many refer to as a ''good school''. We really
wanted to send our child to our local school. Howver, after
getting a tour and visiting various classrooms, speaking with
the principal and staff, talking with other parents already at
the school, etc. we realized we'd be much, much happier at a
school like Peralta, Crocker Highlands, Kaiser, or Chabot.
Unfortunately, because our neighborhood school isn't failing,
we're stuck (no chance of transferring out from our school,
even though we tried!) and have actually decided to move, since
we really don't feel the so-called ''good school'' is a fit for
us. I strongly urge you to visit schools (if you haven't
already) before deciding what is good or not good. We were
surprised by what we found after doing so.
We went through open enrollment in the Oakland Unified School
district this year and didn't get into any! of the six schools
we applied to. What do we do now? Private school is simply
not an option (due to lack of $), and I feel awful about
sending him to our local school (Parker elementary). The
school district said we can't reapply for any potential spaces
in the fall unless he has a sibling that already attends the
school we want. What have others done in this situation? If
you ended up sending your child to your local school, did you
regret it? I have to work full-time, so spending a lot of time
in the classroom is not realistic for me. Does anyone have
anything *good* to say about Parker? If you sent your child to
private school, how did you come up with the $? Did you move
to a better school district? Even if you haven't been in this
exact situation, any words of advice or encouragement would be
Call Sequoia Elementary school in Oakland and set up a visit and a time to talk
with the Principal Kathy Maloney. I believe that Seqoia still has spots open for
the fall. We had the opportunity to transfer our daughter out for Kindergarten
and are very glad that we didn't. Please check out the parent feedback on the
Great Schools website. Please feel free to email me if you have
Sequoia Elementary School
3730 Lincoln Ave
Oakland, CA 94602
There are several charter schools in Oakland that have an
entirely different enrollment process and I know are now in
process of taking applications. They fall under OUSD so there
are no tuition costs. Enrollment is also based on lottery but
the lottery is just for those applying at each individual
school. From preliminary research on my part, some of these
schools appear to be quite good. If you look on the OUSD website
you can find all the charter schools currently in Oakland. I
know that several are having open houses within the next few
Parent in similar situation
One of the options I chose was to put my child in private school
and apply for scholarship. It is still a big stretch for me, but
I have a gifted kid, and I work in the public schools, and just
couldn't see sending him there. Many of the private schools have
generous scholarship assistance. Public school can be a backup
if you don't get it, but i believe you must fill out the
paperwork now if you want it for next year. It certainly can't
hurt to ask, and several private schools want more diversity,
both cultural and economic, so....give it a try.
I know it's difficult, but your best bet is to be patient. While
you may not have gotten your choice in this round it is very
likely that you will before the beginning of the year.
I know many, many parents who have registered at their home
school and by being patience and polite and keeping in contact
with their first choice schools have gotten in. In fact, I don't
know of a single parent who has not gotten a transfer into a
school that they felt perfectly fine about.
It's a little bit of playing chicken, but I know both Croker and
Redwood Heights both had openings in the first weeks of school
this year, and I bet Chabot and Thornhill both did.
As for Parker, I know there are good things that happen at almost
any school, but having worked as a volunteer at Parker, I have to
say it would be difficult for me to place my child there. This
seems to be a school in a constant state of flux with very high
teacher and administrative turn over, very challenging population
and a fairly high number of non-credentialed teachers.
I would encourage you, or anyone looking for an exceptional public school in
Oakland, to check out Kaiser Elementary School (25 South Hill Court Oakland,
94618). It is a small school... in a very safe neighborhood....with an extremely close
knit community feel. The staff and teachers are diverse and dedicated. The test
scores are very good. Parents are welcome to come by the school at any time. Just
check into the office or call.
You are not finished with OUSD yet. Open enrollment is the very first step, after
which comes the inter-district transfer process (using the same form as the open
enrollment form, just check the inter-district transfer box, and where prompted state
a reason for the transfer). I am not positive when the transfer process begins and
ends but I know that it follows open-enrollment (check their website for the dates
and procedures). Then you wait for an answer to that form, too. And after all that,
or alongside that, I have been told repeatedly by the principals at a couple of
schools (specifically Kaiser and Peralta) that if a parent is truly dead-set on their
school, that they do have some personal pull in the process. I have also heard
stories of determined parents, with the help of the principal, getting admitted as
late as a few weeks before school starts to their school of choice. These principals
seemed to want to honor a family's desire to go specifically to their school within
the scope of this huge administrative and random process. I believe that there may
be some schools where this is not the case (I didn't get the same impression from
Chabot) but if you have a strong first choice where you want your child, I would
make your personal presence and desire known to the administrative staff there
and attempt to solicit their help (as well as jumping through the designated hoops
of the inter-district transfer process). Hope this helps and good luck.
Went to the OUSD info meeting
I am interested in learning what parent experiences have been
with school district transfers within Oakland. I'm wondering
particularly if it has been difficult to get kids into specific
schools if you don't live in the school's district? We would
consider buying a house in Oakland if we could send our kids to
one of the better 8-9 elementary schools.
From what I know, transferring to a 'good' school in Oakland
is possible, but not easy. Each year a lottery is held, but
preference is given to kids from underperforming schools. (You
can get more info on the lottery process at the OUSD website.)
We have been told by a couple of principals that if you really
want to get into a certain school, things usually 'work out'.
Basically, after 'losing' in the lottery, you need to contact
the principal and lobby them on a regular basis. We really
wanted our son to go to a certain public school, but the
principal said it would be August before she would know if she
had any openings. We didn't want to risk it, so enrolled in
Also, several of the better schools (Thornhill, Hillcrest)
weren't accepting any transfers this year. Your safest bet
would be to buy a house in one of the school neighborhoods
you're interested in. (And research that carefully -- we were
told by our real estate agent that we were in the Chabot
district, but we're not.) You might also visit some of the
schools you're interested in and talk to the principals to make
sure it's worth your while to move.
I'm afraid, since the No Child Left Behind law was passed,
interdistrict transfers in Oakland are far more difficult,
unless you live in the area of a low-performing school. The
district is required to give preference to those whose
neighborhood school is low-performing (I believe the district
publishes a list of these schools). If you live near a school
that is merely mediocre, your chances of transferring in are
slim. So if you are looking to buy, you might want to look for
the areas with the really bad schools to increase your chances.
When we went through the process several years ago it was
frustrating and unpleasant, I think they are trying to be a
little more user-friendly now but don't expect much in the way
of information or help from the district offices.
I suggest you try to buy in the district of those 8-9 schools
that you would find acceptable. That is what we did and we are
very happy with our neighborhood school, Joaquin Miller.
an OUSD parent
I was just wondering if anyone has done an inter-district
transfer (we have a 4-year-old heading off to kindergarten in
Fall 2004)in the Oakland? We've heard about ''lotteries,'' but no
response from the Oakland Unified, with which I left messages
for a callback. Any input would be greatly appreciated!!
Don't expect friendly and responsive treatment from the Oakland
School District. They HATE transfers and picky parents, we are
all so whiny you know (I was told that by a Principal at my
daughter's former public school).
Did you know that you don't need a transfer to apply to a
public Charter school? There are many in Oakland. My 12-year
old goes to a terrific small school called Lighthouse Community
Charter School in Downtown Oakland (on Telegraph at 19th St.)
They only take new kindergardeners and 6th graders each year,
and occassionally have a spot open in an existing class, but
there may be a long waiting list for those. Lighthouse is very
clean, safe, college-prep focused, Spanish, P.E., and art all
included and they have an extended day/free afterschool program
until 5:30pm 4 days a week.
I have heard good things about other charters also, like West
Oakland Community Charter School, and Conservation Corps. To
find more info about Charter Schools in Oakland (or anywhere
for that matter) check the CANEC website (don't know if that
is .org or .com...) The folks at the Oakland Public School
District don't know much about the charter schools and if they
did, they wouldn't tell you. They are under the mistaken
belief that charter schools are bad. They are only bad for the
district's highly paid administrators and teachers union.
Great for parents and kids who want a small school/ safe school
Mother of 3 in Oakland
It used to be easier to get a transfer to another school within
Oakland Unified, but that's changed over the last couple of
years. The transfer application process still exists, but
priority is now given to kids whose home schools are
considered low-perfoming schools (I've never been
successful at getting a definition of that term!). I'm not sure
whether siblings of existing students get secondary priority,
but they probably do ''unofficially'' if not officially. After this,
there is a lottery - but there may not be any spots available at
any of the schools you want.
Neighborhood Parents Network sponsors an annual
forum/fair of North Oakland elementary schools, and this
school year it will be held in January (date to be
determined). It will be listed in the Berkeley Parents Network
announcements digest as soon as we have a date.
We are hoping to get Randy Ward, the new state
administrator in charge of the district, to speak, as well as a
kindergarten teacher and others. We will also invite PTA
representatives from as many schools as possible to take
part in an effort to give incoming parents a chance to meet
parents already at the school and get the ''low down''.
Another good source of information is
http://www.schoolwisepress.com. You can buy profiles of
individual schools for $6, compare different schools, and
get good general information about testing, etc.
Correction to my previous post:
To clarify some things on the recent post about transfers:
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, districts are obligated to provide
options for parents wishing to transfer from schools that are
Performance Improvement Schools 2 years in a row, and which receive
Title I funds. PI schools are
schools that have not met their API (now AYP) targets 3 years in a row.
Districts should have sent out (sometimes vaguely worded) letters to this
effect to ALL parents of PI schools that receive Title I funds (most PI
schools do). Althought they are obligated to allow parents to move their
children from these schools, there are few guarentees that districts in all
actuality have places to move these children TO, particularly in grades
K-3 receiving class size reduction funds. The Chronicle has done
several articles recently about the difficulties districts are having
these Federal requirements. But if your school meets the requirements,
they must send you a letter and allow you to move...somewhere. The
API/ AYP will be posted on the California Department
of Education website in October; past years are posted now.
A note about the comment on charter schools...check them out
carefully. The state is closing charter schools more and more frequently,
and for good reasons, notably fiscal mismanagement and failing to
provide adequate instruction, often due to unprepared and
uncredentialled teachers. I am a teacher in a non-OUSD district, and
some of the students who have come to us from Oakland charter
schools have been far below grade level in all academic areas, despite
report cards to the contrary.
I have been househunting in oakland and am using the school
district as one of the main requirements, so mainly we have
been looking in Rockridge, Trestle Glen, upper oakmore, and
montclair. And while there is nothing wrong with these
neighborhoods I finds myself drawn to the lower price tags and
level back yards of Piedmont ave, lower Oakmore, and Off Grand
ave. Which are in the lakeview, and glenview school districts.
(Though these may not be bad schools my main worry is that by
the time our son is in school the great schools will just be
okay, and the good ones will be terrible.)
So my question is considering our son is only 18 months old is
basing our move on a school district unnecessary, and if we do
decide to live in an okay school district (instead of a great
one) how hard is it to transfer your child into a good one, if
we decide to do so? Also since we are planning to have 3 kids
if we do get into a better school district, are siblings
allowed to follow?
Thanks in advance
I had a lot of the same concerns as you when househunting (with
an infant) and we too liked Glenview and Oakmore a lot. In the
end, I was concerned about the school district enough to start
looking in other neighborhoods. We ended up buying a place in
Redwood Heights, which has a very good elementary school (not as
great as Montclair schools, but a close second). We also found a
home with a flat backyard, another one of our critiria. We love
this neighborhood -- in addition to the school, it's got a great
community feel with lots of young families, a mom-baby playgroup
and neighborhood softball teams (both thru the Redwood Heights
Improvement Association), a nice park, good access to 13 and 580
and so on. So, maybe the answer is to expand your househunt to
include other areas.
Redwood Heights Mom
First of all, I think basing your housing location decision on schools is a
great thing to be doing even though your son is young. You don't want to be a
situation in a few years where you feel like you HAVE to move. I picked my
house because of the neighborhood school and didn't even have children at the
time! Secondly, while theoretically possible, it is REALLY difficult to
transfer into the best public schools in Oakland (Montclair, Thornhill,
Hillcrest, Joaquin Miller) and I certainly wouldn't count on it. That being
said, I have friends with children at Glenview and Lakeview and they're happy
there; there's more to school than test scores. You need to live in a house
and location where you feel happy, too. Good luck with your decision!
- been there, done that
My daughter starts Kindergarden at Crocker Highlands Elem. school
next week, so I'm sort of a novice. But I watched plenty of
people I know try to get interdistrict transfers. Some were
sucessful (those in the most underperfoming school districts),
but most were not if they lived near a decent school. One freind
did get a transfer from Piedmont Ave. elem. to Crocker, but ended
up going private for other reasons. Then I have a friend who
lived here when her first child started school, but not when her
second was about to. She was actually denied a transfer at
first, but ended up getting in. Kids from underpeforming school
districts get preference over siblings. That said, I was told
early last year at some meeting about OUSD that persistence and
patience re; transfers usually pays off. Good luck.
There are so many criteria to consider when buying a home, and
schools is certainly an important one, but not necessarily the
most important,in my opinion. I wouldn't assume that schools are
necessarily going to go down in quality over the years. There are
a number of neighborhood movements, groups working to improve
their neighborhood schools so that families can feel comfortable
sending their children to the school in their own neighborhood
along with neighborhood friends. Redwood Heights did this and
it's now a very strong school, Peralta is currently doing this as
well as Glenview, which is where our son is starting next week. I
have the sense that Glenview will only get better over the years,
due to more and more parent involvement. However, if you do find
that you want to transfer to a school outside of your immediate
neighborhood, the success rate seems to change year by year. This
year, everyone I knew got into one of the schools that they
requested, though it wasn't always their first choice school.
Siblings are not guaranteed entry, but they're given priority
over some others. I have heard of a few families that were not
able to get siblings into the same school. Good luck!
Another option, rather than moving into a neighborhood with a
top rated school or choosing the neighborhood you like and
transfering to a top rated school, is to get involved in the
school in your neighborhood and make it a top rated school.
Families are doing that in my neighborhood (Glenview) and it's
pretty exciting. Many families have been involved in the
parent's group at the school despite having children who are a
few years away from kindergarten. This year, there's a big crop
of middle class families from the neighborhood entering
kindergarten, some of whom, incidentally, applied for transfers
to the top-tier schools, got them, and decided to stay in
Glenview and invest in their community instead. It's always hard
to make the leap first, but making the leap in the company of
others is much easier. And of course, since income is the
biggest predictor of test scores, if middle class people sent
their kids to their neighborhood school, the test scores would
go up. By the way, I love living in Glenview -- it's the most
neighborhoody neighborhood I've ever lived in. Good luck,
wherever you end up!
just wanted to say that as both a new mom (to a baby) and new
stepmom that i've been through the moving and school search and
believe my hindsight might help.
as a new stepmom our son (now in middle school) has suffered
from young and naive parenting and his sister will undoubtedly
be spared the mistakes we made.
the question and some of the responses refer to Lakeview
without a doubt one of the worst decisions we made was sending
him to Lakeview elementary a couple years ago. i think
sometimes being young and liberal clouded our heads a bit, as
well as having to move at a time that was inopportune to
thoroughly investigate private schools and other options. i
think we thought our ''involved'' parenting would help buffer some
of the less desirable aspects of the school.
but in the end, sending him there set him back academically and
in other ways (socially, emotionally, developing good school
habits and attitudes) a few years. i know it sounds harsh but i
still feel bad for him about it.
i'm also not a supporter of test scores determining the goodness
of a school - but if they are testing that poorly it does
reflect much of what is or is not going on there. and our son
was one of the top two kids test-wise in his class and his
scores were pretty bad. he missed 18 out of 19 questions in
some sections and did only around 50-65 percentile in the few
sections he did well on.
also, when i would go over homework with him, i would find
(several times) there were things that his teacher was telling
him that were wrong. like when they were preparing for those
darn tests, they went over the answers in class (after a
practice) and he gave them the wrong answer. when i looked at
the answer and talked with him about why it was wrong, he was
confused because the teacher had done it with them! and it was
the ''close'' answer, not the right answer, so i could see
how ''someone'' would get it wrong, but not the teacher!
and, by the way, he had a great teacher who really cared and
worked hard to create a good environment in the classroom. but
the academics just weren't there (the teacher was young and had
little mentorship resources). they were 5th graders going over
math and reading - ONLY. they suspended the science and social
studies because the kids were so far behind. they were still
doing phonics - the class, not just the kids who needed it. i
had a friend on the school board and asked him about that and he
was astonished because they had even purchased new science books
(which i saw in the class and the teacher thought it was funny
since they weren't going to use them). so the communication
between the district to the classroom is not working as it
should be. and, he also said ''we just don't know what to do
with lakeview.'' (!)
also, he had learned/witnessed very poor attitudes and behavior
from some of the other kids who rarely or ever did their
homework, did not do very good quality work and talked back to
the teacher. i'm not saying these things to be judgemental, but
it is hard to persuade your kid to do things way outside
the ''norm'' of their environment. the district policy is also to
call the police whenever a violent incident occurs and i saw the
police there quite often when i passed by or stopped to drop
something off at the school - i think this is to record each
incident in the case of a lawsuit or something. but seeing an
officer called because a 6 year old threw something at another
boy, the boy crying and freaked out - (let alone a young boy of
color having to deal w/ the police at such a young age) was just
i have friends who teach in the district and they wouldn't send
their own kids to the schools they work in.
anyhow, now that we have him in a different public school the
differences i see are astounding. however, the struggles we
went through this past year - transitioning from low
expectations/academics to high (from the school) - had a lot to
do with his previous experience at lakeview - and lakeview
doesn't even have ''underperforming'' or now deemed ''high need''
status because their scores are just above that threshold. at
his new school we worked intensely with his teachers to get him
on the right track. and part of our success was only due to the
fact that he is a bit older now and maturity is starting to take
hold, with a younger kid it may be much harder.
of course some of our circumstances are extreme or different
because he had a difficult background up until recently ,
switching schools often etc. but regardless, i think our
experience made us get our act together and made the school the
number one priority for where we lived. (and we did try the
transfer thing and there is very little likelihood of getting
them, let alone the chase you have to go through to be denied
again the great problem is that good school areas have really
high rent/housing costs. so you may consider living somewhere
cheaper the first few years until your kid is ready for school
and then move - because it is really expensive!
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