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Hillcrest Elementary School (Oakland, CA)
Hi All We found a house we love in Upper Rockridge, walking distance to Hillcrest School, and have heard great things about the school. However recently I've heard that Hillcrest is oversubscribed, and that living in the school district doesn't guarantee your kids a spot in the school. I'm told there are families living in the neighborhood who's kids didn't get in to the school and have to go to a different school while on the wait list. Can anyone who lives in the neighborhood or knows about it tell me your experience? Whether you were easily able to get into the school or had to send your kids to a different school? We love the neighborhood, the house, and the school, but the idea of putting our life savings into a house and then our kids not being able to go to Hillcrest, and having to drive to a different neighborhood and go to a different school is not what we want. (And after buying a house in Upper Rockridge we wouldn't be able to afford private school.) We're also looking at Alameda and Piedmont where the schools are guaranteed, (or Crocker Highlands which isn't oversubscribed), or moving someplace where houses are much less expensive so we could afford private school if necessary. We love Rockridge and would prefer to be here, but taking the risk of our girls not being able to go to Hillcrest when we live there is discouraging. All input from people who live in the area or know more about OUSD enrollment appreciated.
We never thought we'd have the option to live in Rockridge, but we just bid on a house zoned for Hillcrest. Unfortunately, I know 2 families who've recently moved their kids out of Hillcrest due to overcrowding ... If you have children there, what's your experience been recently? My child will be in kindergarten Fall 2011 ... is it jammed? any sense of whether there will be space? If you were redirected to Thornhill or Chabot, what's your experience there? I met with the principal at Thornhill last week and wasn't too impressed. Any recent experiences much appreciated! Rockridge parent?
Hi, We need to move before our kids (twins) start elementary school, and are considering moving to the Hillcrest district. But, I've read a lot on BPN and have heard from others that there have been problems in the past few years where families in the neighborhood have not gotten into the school. Does anyone know how things are going now? Has this improved at all? Our kids will start K in Fall 2012, so we plan to move in about a year (Fall 2011) in order to get into a house before enrollment in Jan. Thank you!
OUSD has an ''options'' program that you should look into before determining if you want to move into the neighborhood for the school. here is a quick summary:
good luck. Hillcrest Alum Family
We just received notice today from OUSD that we were denied entrance to Hillcrest Elementary, although we live in the current school boundaries and purchased our home at a premium because of the school. Although we knew about last year's fiasco, as of January we were told at a school meeting that there might be 47 spaces available for the fall and approximately 60 some children in the neighborhood wanting a spot. Does anyone know how many spots are available for kindergarten this fall and how many children in the neighborhood applied? How did OUSD choose which kids in the neighborhood got in and which didn't? What are the chances of getting into Hillcrest via their appeals process? We applied to private schools as a backup, but even if we get accepted to any next week, we're not in a financial position to accept unless we want to go into heavy debt and not have any retirement or college money. anon
If you appeal, and someone who was admitted to Hillcrest does not choose to go, then your child might be admitted. I would guess they would do a lottery among the appeals to fill any slots that open up.
I encourage you to visit the school to which you were admitted and at least research it a bit. Hillcrest is a good school but the world isn't going to end if your child attends Chabot or Thornhill. In fact, those schools might be a better fit for your child. The other schools to which students were redirected are the next closest neighborhood school and have a lot to offer. Open your mind to the possibilities and make the kindergarten choice with your child's well-being in mind. anon
The options/open enrollment priorities for incoming kindergartners are the following: 1. Neighborhood siblings 2. Neighborhood students and re-directs from overcrowded neighborhoods 3. Non-Neighborhood siblings 4. PI status of neighborhood school 5. LotteryAssignment letters will be mailed out by March 1st, after which families will have an opportunity to submit an appeal. Appeals will only be accepted for one school, and waitlists will be generated for neighborhood students and siblings. Students will be moved off of the waitlist through the first three weeks of the semester. The assignment letter will also inform elementary families that they have to confirm registration at the school sites by a specific date in May. Elementary families which do not confirm their registration by the May deadline will forfeit their assignment. this and additional information may be found at: http://www.hillcrestpta.org/news/enroll/index.shtml good luck. Hillcrest parent
I am one mom of a two mom family. We have a child who is about to start Kindergarten at Hillcrest Elementary, a public school in Oakland. I am wanting to know anything anyone knows about gay friendly teachers, parents, environment at Hillcrest. For instance, are there other gay/lesbian parents who currently have kids in the school, are there gay/lesbian teachers, what is done in the school to celebrate and embrace this sort of diversity? All feedback would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.
Though the academics are absolutely solid, there are a lot of sahm moms who volunteer, and the fundraising is off the charts, if you're looking for a diverse or gay-friendly community, this school does not make any list.
We have lived in other neighborhoods and gone to cool schools (we have an older son who has never gone to Hillcrest) that truly are welcoming and broader communities, both public and private. We too moved here for the school but had no idea what social program we had signed up for (and no, you can't tour ahead of time).
This is not just a rant by the way. We applied for and just got into a private school so that my child can actually -- ironically -- experience a diverse, real world that this 'hills' school could never have. The money is worth what it will provide my child in the long run. Good luck. Anon
We're outgrowing our tiny house in outer Glenview and are looking
to move into a neighborhood with a good school. Although I hear
positive things about Glenview Elem, since we have the
opportunity to move into one of the top school zones we'd like to
take advantage of it. We would love to be able to get into
Hillcrest, but my understanding is that after this year's
enrollment chaos there will be no guarantees for kindergartners
who live in the catchment area going forward (my oldest will
start kindergarten Fall 2010). So, we wonder if it's really worth
it to move into Upper Rockridge when there's a chance we may not
even get in our neighborhood school?? I can't imagine how
frustrating and disappointing that would be. I heard that the
kids who originally didn't get into Hillcrest were put into
Chabot or Kaiser, which are apparently decent? If we put our
money toward a home in Hillcrest and don't get into a good school
we won't be able to afford private. I know we have a few years,
but we'd like to act now before rates and prices go up again.
We've thought about Piedmont, but for what we can afford we could
probably only get something smaller than what we already have. My
husband wants to scrap it all and move to Marin (I know, super
expensive), but I really like Oakland. Someone suggested renting
and see if we get in Hillcrest before buying, but I don't know if
that area has a lot of rentals. Any advice/opinions/experience
Stressed, Confused & Frustrated
Advantages: Great Parental Involvement, High Test Scores, Principal who is aware of community resources (for gifted kids, remedial students, sports, science, etc.), K - 8 so the kids really know each other. Nearly everyone at the school lives in the neighborhood. More money for ''gifted'' kids because many have been identified as such.
Disadvantages: High pressure on the kids to perform on tests and to get tutors so they can if they are not ahead. Kids are called ''gifted'' because they are not tested for giftedness for given the designation because of standardized test scores. Few children of color or different socioeconomic backgrounds attend the school although some live in the neighborhood.. Because 6 - 8 grade students make up such a small population there are fewer teachers with ''in depth'' expertise simply because there are fewer teachers for fewer students. I also found the attitude of ''We are the best'' a little off-putting.
In the end, I chose to send my son to St. Paul's Episcopal School even though I am only a few doors down from Hillcrest. The pressure to perform and the lack of diversity were the main factors in my decision. Qualify for Hillcrest but chose No
As a current Hillcrest parent my advice to you would be that if you love the neighborhood and want to move here because of that, then you should do so. If your only reason for moving to the neighborhood is for Hillcrest, I would say that this is not worth taking the chance on since there is no guarantee that your child will be admitted to the school.
As you know, the 2007 kindergarten enrollment process for Hillcrest was a complete fiasco. Neither the incoming kindergarteners, or the current children will be served well by this ''child surge''. Hillcrest has very limited facilities in terms of space, playground, bathrooms, etc., and admitting that many new students only results in over crowding and less than optimal teaching/learning environment for all involved. The school is way over capacity, and the children at the lower grades will continue to be most impacted for a longer period of time by this recent decision.
Regarding Chabot and Kaiser; both of these schools are good, and Chabot's API scores rival Hillcrest's. Kaiser is not far behind. I think you should have a look at these schools for yourself, talk to some parents at the school and see what you think. You may be pleasantly surprised and decide you want to move to the neighborhood after all as you will have 3 choices, not just 1! There are many good schools in Oakland, they just aren't on parents' radars for a variety of reasons. I have learned that API scores don't tell the whole story about what a school has to offer its students.
You may not know this, and you should know that currently at Hillcrest there are 2 classes each for grades K-3, then 1 class in 4 and 1 class in 5. The middle school, which is a primary reason for Hillcrest's popularity, has 2 classes. Admitting more children than the school has capacity for will not only continue to result in overcrowded classes (the class reduction act of 1996 of 20 or less in K-3 isn't happening at Hillcrest any longer) but will also result in split (combination) classes from grades K-5 as the ''surge'' spills over to other grades and there isn't physical classroom space to accomodate all the children.
As you can see, admitting more kids than the campus has room for is negating many of the reasons (one of them being smaller class sizes) that have made Hillcrest a great school. Rather than stuffing Hillcrest to the brim, it would be more productive to replicate the successful Hillcrest K-8 model at other Oakland schools. Hopefully OUSD will seriously consider this and parents will become involved to make it happen.
Good luck in your decision. Hillcrest parent
Can anyone provide insight or advice on transferring to Hillcrest as a 6th grader? We live in Rockridge and my daughter is currently at Chabot and our local middle school is Claremont which is a low performing school. I have heard that many Hillcrest students leave for private schools after 5th grade, but does this mean there are openings for middle schoolers? If so, how likely is is that my kid could get in and what can I do to improve her chances. We would have to sell our second born in order to send our oldest to private school and I would hate to do that- he is really cute! mama looking for options
We are debating between Hillcrest public school and several private schools (admittance unknown yet, of course). We are particularly interested in hearing from parents of Hillcrest kids in the upper elementary grades: 3,4,5. The kindergarten looks great but we have uneasiness beyond that. colin
Would be very interested in hearing families' firsthand thoughts about their child's experiences at Hillcrest School in Oakland. I've also heard it's very difficult to get into the school, even if you live in the zone (which we don't). Anyone know about that and/or how those decisions are made?
Because of our small size, we are not an Open Enrollment school. We do all that we can do to enroll all of the entering Kindergarten students who live in our attendance area. After Kindergarten, we have very little space and sometimes must divert students who move into our area to other Oakland schools with openings. Realtors are told to inform prospective home-buyers that living in the Hillcrest neighborhood does not guarentee enrollment at Hillcrest.
Our community is close. You'll find that your best friends will be the parents of your children's friends. Feel free to call the school should you have any questions at 879-1270. But please be reminded that because of our size, we do not enroll students outside of our attendance area. beverly
I'd like to hear any general feedback about Hillcrest
Elementary School. Also, I've heard that enrollment is
not necessarily guaranteed for students, even if they
live in the surrounding neighborhood--anyone have any
further information on this? Is it really a problem?
future Hillcrest parent
We're trying to decide between Hillcrest and Head- Royce/Bentley for Kindergarten. We're concerned about the difference in class sizes at Hillcrest starting in 4th grade, as well as the potential for class sizes to increase in earlier grades as schools get hit with the Oakland/CA budget crisis. Any information would be appreciated. -- contemplating
I am very pleased with both the educational and social envoronment at Hillcrest. The principal, Beverly Rothenberg, is an absolute gem. She is committed not only to the academic achievement of her students, but she's also tireless when it comes to community building.
The schools boasts an incredibly active group of parents, and many of the teachers welcome parental involvement in the classroom; I've been able to read in both of my sons classrooms on a weekly basis, for example. As one might expect, the PTA does a great job of fundraising, and there are a number of very innovative ideas in the pipeline.
I've also been happy with the teachers there, but I'll only mention the ones who we've had direct experience with. As noted in a previous post, Alice Rochester is fantastic with the kindergardeners. Missy Callaghan teaches first grade, and while I've heard some parents find her a bit strict, I (and my son) really like her and her classroom atmosphere. Melissa Catalano is new to the school, and my second garder adores her. She does a great job of giving the kids interesting assignments, and she's very energetic.
As for the minuses...the community is more ethnically diverse than I expected (given that my kids are African-American and Mexican-American, that's important to our family), but there's not a whole lot of economic diversity. I fear that some of the kids may have a skewed perspective on our capitalist society; one child, upon hearing that I returned from a business trip, asked me if I flew first class! (Um, well, no.) The parental playground grapevine among parents have mentioned a split between folks who live in pre-firestorm and post-firestorm housing, but I don't think that's a significant problem.
All in all, I'm thrilled that my sons are fortunate enough to attend Hillcrest, and I'm sure we'll be there through eighth grade. Eric
Where to start: the teachers are wonderful, very patient, very witty, they keep the children challenged and are great persons to talk to. Any issue is immediately addressed no matter how insignificant it seems. The principal is great both as a person and as a ''manager'', is always on top of things, she makes a real effort to bring new extra curriculum programs, quality teachers and promote positive life skills and values in our children. In addition to music, art and P.E we have a language program that offers French and Spanish. The parents are very involved in classes and PTA and the different events. There is a new additional building that will start to develop this summer. Only positive things happening through the combined effort of principal/teachers/parents/community.
My children and I are very happy, it's a great community, great school and very good academics. We are proud to be part of Hillcrest School. Simona
my son will start kindergarten at hillcrest elem (oakland) in fall 2003. right now he goes to a full-time preschool (8am to 6pm). this is convenient since my husband and i work full- time. what do hillcrest parents (who work full-time) do with their kids during the hours that kindergarten is not in session? are there before and afterschool programs on campus? private daycare centers that transport kids? suzie
Hi - Hilcrest Elementary School in Oakland I'm doing the school tour thing these days for my prospective kindergardener, and our public elementary school is Hilcrest in Oakland. I would like to know what folks think about the school, and in hearing from both parents who chose the school as well as from those who opted for private rather than send their kids to Hilcrest. Lisa
I posted this question once before, but only rec'd a couple responses.
Hillcrest parents: Does anyone have any comments, pos or neg, on the aftercare program there? Adventure Time. I am a f/t working mom who will need aftercare at least 4 days/week.
I am sending my son to JCC's Camp Tzofim for a session this summer bc I've heard great things. I don't know anything about the year-round aftercare program. I feel concerned about having my kindergartner take a bus to a program. Does anyone do this? Have there been issues? Any comments welcome.
Any other options I should consider? I am beginning to worry about this, as I just have no option, my little one needs to be in aftercare most days. I'd love him to be outdoors. Any suggestions?
Thank you so much. sarah
My son starts kindergarten at Hillcrest in the fall, and I need aftercare. I've visited Adventure Time there and it was okay but I wasn't wowed and don't think I want him there 5x/week. Love to hear your comments on that program! Especially for kindergarteners.
I'm thinking of putting him in AT 2-3 days a week, and looking for another option 2-3 days a week ... I don't want an academic program, just fun playtime with little outdoor adventures if possible. I'm a f/t working mom and need care every afternoon. I work in Oakland and have some flexibility, but picking him up and taking him somewhere during the day would be hard more than 1x/week.
What do other Hillcrest working families do? What programs do you recommend? Is anyone with younger kids interested in a p/t afternoon nanny share? We could rotate houses, etc. Thanks for any ideas!! sarah
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