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Enrolling in Oakland Schools

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How does the kindergarten enrollment process work?

Sept 2008

We are planning to enroll our son in kindergarten Fall 2009. How does the process work with OUSD? Do we call to arrange tours, and/or are there open houses publicized somewhere? We are lukewarm on our neighborhood school and interested in exploring other options. Thanks.


It can change from year to year, but last year in late November/early December the ''Options'' process started with an information fair at the Coliseum. The schools then have various tours, open houses, and parent information meetings. In mid January the options forms are due, and among most people I know it seemed irrelevant what you put down -- you still got your neighborhood school. If you weren't happy with that, last year the most important thing was to get your appeal in as quickly as possible. The only thing that mattered for your appeal (apart from what school you were appealing to) was the time and date stamp on your form. Take it down in person to the OUSD office their first day open after you receive your assignment. We did that without knowing how important it was and got a spot in May at one of the highest-scoring elementary schools. If you have the cojones to wait until the last weeks of summer or even the first week of school, it seems that you can eventually get a spot almost anywhere. Peralta was supposedly so oversubscribed early on that even siblings weren't getting spots, but I know someone who was in no special priority group who got offered a spot in late August. Good luck -- you'll need it
We went through the OUSD kindergarten enrollment process last year and I can honestly say it was the most stressful 4 months of my life. We weren't thrilled with our neighborhood school, although it is a fine school (one of the 'Hills' schools), it just never felt like a good fit for us. So, I went to a LOT of open houses and talked to a lot of parents and did a lot of research on BPN and greatschools.net. Many of the open houses happened as early as October and November, so get started on your research ASAP! I suggest making a point to meet the principals of the schools you're interested in, they are so instrumental in creating the learning environment your child will be in. By December, when the Enrollment window opened, I had a list of schools I liked. You can pick up an enrollment application at your neighborhood school or the district office. You can turn your application in at your neighborhood school, or take it directly to the district office (which I recommend) during the enrollment window (the enrollment info should be on the OUSD website in the next few weeks). The enrollment application gives you six choices. If your first choice is your neighborhood school, you're essentially guaranteed a spot (although they say some of the over-enrolled schools have to occasionally turn away neighborhood kids). If your first choice is not your neighborhood school, you're entered into a lottery for any available spots at that school. If there aren't any spots in your first choice school, you're then put in the lottery for your second choice school, and so on and so forth, I guess they have a 'sophisticated computer program' that runs all the lotteries. I don't know many people who got anything other than their neighborhood school during the first round of assignments (although we DID get our first choice school, which is not our neighborhood school...but I think we were in a lucky minority). If you aren't happy with your initial assignment, you can appeal your placement after the first round of assigned kids register at the schools they were assigned to. I know several families who got into their first choice schools on appeal this past year, so it seems like an increasingly successful process. I was very apprehensive about the process last year, but looking back, it actually wasn't anywhere near as bad as I anticipated. Almost everyone I know ended up in a school they are happy with. Some of the sweetest schools I saw don't seem to be on the average Oakland parent's radar...I was really impressed with Sequoia, Cleveland and Glenview in particular (and in fact we ended up at one of those three, quite happily). So I guess my final piece of advice would be to be open to schools other than the few 'desirable' schools that everyone seems to be competing to get into. I found wonderful things happening at every school I visited. Oh...and be nice to the people who work at the OUSD District Office. They deal with a LOT of cranky parents, so a smile and a genuine 'thank you' can go a long way toward advancing your agenda when you're dealing with them. Happy OUSD Parent
The kindergarten selection process for Oakland was extremely painful. There is something to be said about going to a private school just to be outside of the lottery process and to have some level of certainty about school policies, budgets and programs. If you need certainty and can't take a lot of stress, go private. For the OUSD appeals process, show up as early as you can and understand how the waiting list will be created. You'll probably get your assignment letter on a Saturday, so arrive at the assignment office early on Monday. Apparently parents showed up at the assignment office as early as 3am this year to get the first spot on the list. Have perserverance, be brave, and best of luck on getting your top choice the first time around. anon
In a nutshell,I'm sure the OUSD process will be similar to last year. Around December, there will be an OPTIONS Fair, I'd check the website frequently at: ousd.k.12.ca.us, to make sure you don't miss it.Then call the schools you are interested in enrolling your child to see when they are offering tours for Prospective Kindgerateners for parents.These usually fill fast depending on the school.These tours seem to run from January to June.Around a month after the Options fair, the paperwork is due to the school district, to begin assigning the children to the school of preference, around April/May,the school which the child is assigned to will notify parents to pick up enrollment packets for the child.This paperwork/forms should be completed and returned to the school preferably by June/July. Good luck! Denise

Oakland schools residency requirement?

June 2007

We own property in Oakland, but live elsewhere because of work commutes. We'd like to send our kids to the Oakland public school near the home we own, but have heard that the requirement for enrollment in OUSD is residency, not property ownership. If true, I find this unfair - our property taxes are supporting the school, after all. Has anyone dealt with this issue before, or challenged/brought it up with the district? Or simply ignored the policy and enrolled their child anyway? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks. pondering possibilities


The requirement is residency-- if you are renting the property in Oakland out, then the people who are renting are the residents, and their money is ostensibly being used to pay the property taxes. They are the ones who have rights to attend the school in the district. You have several options:
-Move back into the district.
-Apply for an intradistrict transfer. These do exist, and can be obtained, especially by a motivated parent (of a student who will NOT cause trouble and,although no one wants to say so, raise school testing scores)
-Lie and get into the school district on false pretenses. If you take this last route, know that there are people on the PTA who will take it as their personal mission to have you removed from the school, and that if your student were to ever get in trouble, the principal would be justified in expelling them from the district. The Berkeley School Board is right now looking into intensifying its system of identifying 'out-of-district' students. It is not clear what the outcome will be, but other school districts are certainly watching closely. Since at least one parent will be needed to transport this child to and from school twice a day (since school busses will NOT take a child to a house out-of-district without the school's knowledge), I would seriously think about moving back to your property. That way you bet the benefit of your 'property taxes' and won't be making the system even more 'unfair'. seasoned teacher
Well I think it depends on what school you are talking about. As you may have heard, some people that own and live in houses near some schools did not get into their neighborhood schools. If it is any other school, I doubt anyone will care. As for your question about the residency vs. property ownership requirement, if you think about it, it is pretty obvious why the requirement is residency-- renters are allowed to go to school too, the rent you charge presumably takes into account the property tax you pay, etc. That said, one of Oakland's school problems is underenrollment, so if you are trying to get into a not-so-popular elementary school or a jr. high or high school, you could probably get a legal interdistrict transfer or just put down the address of your rentral property and not worry about it. anon
Yes, the rules are that you must live in the community to be able to enroll your child in the public school. You do have choices:
1. You can apply for an out-of-district enrollment. There is a family in my child's school from Hayward, so it's possible. It may not be available for a high-status school, but for many other schools in Oakland.
2. You can illegally enroll. You run a risk that your child will be discovered (even mid-year) and have a disrupted school year. You will have to worry about parents who will report you (like me) if we find out. Are we doing something mean to your innocent child? I think it's the parents making the choice to expose their child to the risk. I'm also tired of the rationalizing that rules are for other people (whose kids are less precious?).
3. Send your child to a less desirable school in Oakland -- no one will question your residency, if you're not trying to scheme into a high-demand school.
4. Use your status as a property owner to lobby to change the rules to something more to your liking. good luck

What is the process for enrolling in kindergarten?

Sept 2006

I am looking for info on applying for public school in Oakland for Kindergarten 2007-2008 year. What is the process. How do you request a particular school. Any insights/suggestions about how to get the school you want. How did the new process work this year? Thanks
jfu


Re: Oakland Unified entering K process: (I am mom of girl who entered K at Kaiser this year, 2006-2007, from an appeal) Anxiety producing, but not as bad as it could be. Call the district office and make sure you are aware of the timetable, deadlines etc. Get as much info as possible about the schools you may be interested in. Lots of schools are in transition right now, so don't rule out your neighborhood school (You don't say where that is). From my experience principals have been great regarding visits, etc. Pace yourself as visits are exhausting.

The process itself: To be honest, I can't remember how it started--a call to the district? I think I got our ''Choice'' packet at the elementary school fair in January (call district for date). Talked to lots of principals there, including the one from our neighborhood school. Sent my choice in right away. Heard back roughly the time that OUSD said they would reply, and was assigned to neighborhood school (which I had not put down as one of my 7 choices). NO one I know got their choice of school the first time around (if their neighborhood school was not among the choices). If you do not get one of your choices, you can appeal, but you can then only choose one school where you will be placed on a waiting list. So as soon as you know you need to appeal you should 1) call the district office and talk with Noah Bookman (I might have that spelled wrong) and see which schools have long waiting lists (eg, some schools like Chabot were overenrolled with neighborhood kids and siblings) and 2) call the principals directly to get what info you can out of them re waiting lists. (This was my strategy anyway--I did not want to waste my choice on a school where I would be 20th on the waiting list). I sent my appeal in right away, and was called by Kaiser just days later. If you don't get your appeal, you will be put on a waiting list at that school. Then over the next couple weeks the schools call down the waiting list as they see how their classes are filling out.
Happy Kaiser Mom


Moving into the district mid-year

Aug 2005

We are considering a move to the bay area and would likely end up moving around December or January. One of the places we are most seriously considering is the Montclair area of Oakland. From what I gather you have a peference for your neighborhood school, but then empty spots are filled via transfer. If we move mid-year are we going to have trouble getting into the neighborhood school? One of our key criteria for choosing a house is the school zone, so I'd like to be sure we can get our kids in it. (Our son will be in first grade this year). We are also looking at Berkeley and Alameda, any thoughts on mid-year moves to those districts would also be appreciated. Thanks. Andrew


Hi there-- we live in Montclair, and LOVE it! The school district is seriously talking about changing things with regard to enrollment for fall of 2006 (these changes are due to take effect starting October of 2005-- just 2 months away). You can read about it on the OUSD website, or contact Noah Bookman at the OUSD . I think he could give you some really valuable information for your particular situation. fellow parent
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