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About Piedmont Schools
We're considering moving to Piedmont, and would like to hear from other parents about the accommodations for gifted elementary school students. My daughter (currently in first grade) is reading and doing math several grade levels above her current grade, and I (a) don't want her to be bored, and (b) want to maximize her potential. I understand that GATE identification doesn't even begin until 4th grade - what do they do for students before then? Once kids are identified, are there actual programs, or is it just talk? Does a lot depend on the teacher each year, or are there systems in place? Would you recommend Piedmont schools for this type of child? Thanks! Lisa
A larger school district might have more money for specific GATE programs, but there don't seem to be a lot of good models right now. Let us know what you find. A Piedmont mom
I am considering moving my business to Piedmont and would most likely want to rent out a residential one bedroom or studio apartment instead of a commercial space because it is less expensive and more comfortable for me that way. I am curious about the requirements for applying to the Piedmont School system and have heard that you can use a local address even if it is for work and not your permanent living address. Has anyone else out there done something similar? Did you do so with permission of the school district or under the radar? What are the risks if you do something like this without approval of the school system and get caught? I would hate for my kids to get expelled!! We are also considering moving to Piedmont but currently our house value is low so we want to wait a few years, but improving our child's school is an immediate need. Looking forward to hearing responses! Curious about Piedmont requirements
It says that the Allen Bill ''permits a school district to deem a pupil to have complied with the residency requirements for school attendance in the district if at least one parent/guardian of the pupil is physically employed within the boundaries of that district.''
However if you read the regulation, you will see that the school district IS NOT REQUIRED to admit your child under this provision. Also, your home district (where your child resides) must agree to the transfer.
Next I googled ''Piedmont school district residency''. Here is the page that pops up first (on the Piedmont School district website): http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/district-info/enrollment
It says: ''All students who live within the city's boundaries are guaranteed a place in the Piedmont Schools.'' I think that means your child has to actually live in Piedmont. You'll need four proofs of residency which are described on this page.
There is also a section on this page about Inter-district Transfers which is probably very similar to those in other school districts. You can read the full regulations on the above link, but basically, it looks like working in Piedmont isn't going to get your kid into Piedmont schools unless you work for the school district or the city of Piedmont, and even then, your resident school district needs to release you first. And, your transfer can be revoked at any time.
So, in summary, it looks like you could set up a business in Piedmont, and then you could apply for your child to attend a school in Piedmont, but Piedmont does not have to accept your child. And even if it does, the school district that you actually live in would have to release you first. I am guessing that this is possible but not very likely. But you could always try. googler
Unfortunately, (legal) rentals are relatively hard to find in Piedmont, and the school district definitely does home visits if there is reason to be suspicious. The address has to correspond with a home, the landlord has to have a business permit on file for the tenancy, and any unit (apartment or in-law) has to be on the list of 80 or so legal second units in the City. Separately, any business operating in Piedmont (including home-based businesses) needs a City permit, and must meet various criteria (re: employees, client visits, that home is used primarily as a residence rather than as an illegal commercial use in a residential area, etc.). The District number, for more info, is 594-2600. Maureen
Hi! Can anyone offer a current review of the Piedmont Elementary Schools? How do they compare to one another? My daughter will be starting Kindergarten in September. Would you recommend moving to Piedmont for the schools? Piedmont has a reputation for being snobby-- is it? How would you describe the community(ies) of the schools? Thanks for your help!
The school has been fantastic (Wildwood). Both of our kids love it, are doing well and involved in many great after school activities. There are many benefits we weren't expecting; the close proximity to new friends and the ease of having impromtu playdates, very little driving, we are close to Grand Ave, Piedmont Ave and Lakeshore which offers so many great choices and diversity! The friends we have made are down to earth, thoughtful and interesting. Liz
We have lived in Piedmont for almost 9 years and love it. Personally I can't imagine living anywhere else. Yes, the schools are excellent, but may not be the perfect fit for every child, but what school is? There are 3 elementary schools and they vary in size and personality. Both of my children went to Havens which is the largest of the three - one is still there. It is also the newest and most state of the art. It is truly an amazing place - the physical space and the caliber of the teachers and staff would be hard to match - even at the most elite private school.
Please keep in mind that one of the things that makes Piedmont and its schools so special is the parents and families. the majority of Piedmont families give back to their community and that included the schools. Parents work in the classrooms, drive on field trips, serve hot lunch and give financially. The current request is $1500 per family per year - though it is not required. You will also be asked to join the Parents Club, give to individual classroom funds, field trip funds, and school fundraisers. The parents in Piedmont contribute approximately $5,000 per child to the annual school budget.
Is Piedmont snobby? There are snobby people, but there are snobby people everywhere. I have not found it to be snobby, actually quite the opposite. Most families that I know have taken the ''it takes a village'' approach and we all help each other out, keep an eye on each others children and help our neighbors. If you have a baby, are sick or have a family disaster - there will be meals on your doorstep before you can think twice.
So, yes the schools are great and are a great fit for most kids, but it's also what you put into it. If you want to become part of a wonderful community that puts its children first then Piedmont is probably a good fit - if you only want to come for the schools you may want to keep looking happy Piedmont mother
I am interested in hearing from families about the 2009 school year experience in Piedmont elementary schools, especially from those who also have been at an academically-geared private elementary school like Bentley. What do you like about it, what do you not like, what was unexpected both good and bad? What are all the elements that make this the right choice for your family?
How many kids are in K-5 classes and how many teachers are there in each classroom? Does the elementary school have art, technology, math, science, music, spanish and PE and if so how many times a week?
I often hear Piedmont families talk about how happy they are with schools; and a lot about the nice social scene and that students and parents get along. What about academics?
Thanks for sharing your experience. anon
Having visited many of the private schools in the area, plus having friends in them, I would say the academics are comparable, though I think a few schools probably have more kids excelling at higher competency levels than the Piedmont schools. It is still a public school district and teaches to the middle. Piedmont also has a lot of schools and a lot of teachers, so there are weak spots and bright spots, but I think most classes do pretty well in presenting a rigorous program, considering.
Piedmont does have larger class sizes than private after third grade. They vary, but in this budget climate they are likely to stretch it to the maximum allowed.
Piedmont does have a pretty reasonable program for kids with learning differences, which private schools are not required to provide. They have a school counselor, a district psychologist, resource teachers, and enrichment for kids who are ahead. Not all private schools offer these resources. Moved for the schools
We may have the opportunity to send our kids to Piedmont schools in a few years for middle and high school on an inter-district transfer. They would enter at the start of middle school and continue through HS after we let them finish out at their current elementary school. I've read all the posts about moving to Piedmont for the schools and discussion of people's concerns about lack of diversity, potential snobbishness regarding social and economic class. What I haven't found is information about what it might be like to add another layer of ''outsiderness,'' namely, having your kids attend Piedmont schools while you live in, let's say, Berkeley, Albany, or El Cerrito. Would this be ridiculously difficult socially, beyond the obvious challenges of geographical distance? I have heard of parents getting teaching jobs in the district in order to send their kids there. Just wondering what that feels like for both the parents and the kids. anon
I had students in my class from Oakland, Albany, Richmond, and El Cerrito. They all had parents that taught in the district and really seemed to thrive academically as well as socially, and seemed to integrate really well with their peers, although I'm hoping other parents will chime in to give you a first person perspective. The only drawback I could see is that if you don't live nearby you will have to work out logistics for carpooling to and from activities, games, or just to give your kids the chance to hang out with their classmates. anon
Hi, Looking for opinions on Piedmont public schools..We have 3 children ages elementary to high school. Thanks so much.. Undecided parents (private vs.Piedmont) Paula
We are trying to choose between Piedmont, Berkeley and Albany schools. I see very little positive information in the archives for Piedmont; there must be some happy/unhappy experiences out there? At issue are my 12 year old's perception that Piedmont is boring, nothing is 'happening' there, and she'd rather go to Berkeley or Albany. She is very bright, does well in all subjects, and makes friends easily. She has had some years in public school where she had less than mediocre teachers, and fewer years where she had great teachers. I have supplemented where i could, but would like some consistency from here on, and want good teachers every year! I want her to be engaged and interested, but in past years, she has spent much of her day reading under the teacher's nose. She is a gifted writer, great reader, and wonderful artist. She gets A's and B's in everything else. I am worried that she will stray in the middle/high school years, and develop other interests if she is not fully engaged with an interesting curriculum and excellent teachers. Boys are now asking her out, and most of her friends have boyfriends! ? I am also concerned about homework; Is is true that Piedmont gives hours of homework each night? Have you had kids in any of these schools, and can you share your experiences? also have one 9 year old boy entering 4th grade in 2009, and he too is a great artist, and loves sports. anon
As I've said here before, about 1/3 of the cub scout population is non-white based on my rough headcount when heading the program (note that the town's Boy Scout council was the first in the country to reject the national organization's position on gays in scouts, and that's not enough for many of us).
Parent, grandparent, and business fundraising is important though not oppressive, and that funds a wide variety of special events and programs (e.g. today's Not a Genuine Black Man event by Brian Copeland at the high school). While school doesn't necessarily offer everything to everybody, there's plenty of enrichment and challenging work closeby, and a long tradition of parents stretching to expose their kids to it, and celebrating the work kids do.
For instance, in the last month or so, we've seen Dr. Demento speak on freedom of speech at the Berkeley Rep (free), taken a class at the Exploratorium, gone with a carload of kids to the Olafur Eliasson exhibit at SFMOMA (required of one kid by the ceramics class), and we can always run up the hill to CPS's great speaker series. One son plays in an East Bay symphony. All three run cross country against East Bay public and private schools. Friends' kids are taking classes at Berkeley and Cal State when they outstrip offerings at the high school. And see, for instance, high school art displayed at the local orthodontist's office, at local banks and Piedmont Avenue coffee shops each spring.
I'm sure this is what you'd see at many other local schools as well--and kids with special interests everywhere find and riff off one another.
Overall, we've been really happy with our decision, and thankful for insightful and sure-handed parent leadership on such issues as earthquake retrofit and some key issues at the high school. Our boys cycle around the East Bay, take BART to music events in SF, and take public transit to West Marin. We trust them and their friends. And maybe the biggest benefit of living in the Piedmont community is the ''it takes a village'' approach to raising our own kids, and feeling comfortable stepping in with others' kids if necessary.
''Hey, guys. Can you pick up all that trash at the bus stop please?'' Piedmont parent
How much homework your kid has really, truly, depends on your kid and his/her abilities. My daughter is in the 7th grade and she typically has about 45 minutes- 1 hour of homework a night.She is also a very talented reader and writer. My son is now in 9th grade and his 7th and 8th grade load was also about 45 min-1 hour nightly. In 6th grade, however, I'd say he spent at least 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours every night on homework. Some of this was due to the fact that he did have a more academically challenging core teacher, but a lot of it was due to the fact that he just wasn't very efficient when doing his work that year, and he's improved a lot his ability to focus and to be organized. I really feel like the middle school has a vision for what they want the kids to experience academically and socially, and we've been impressed with how competent and thoughtful the teachers are at PMS ; we've been altogether very happy.
High school, of course, becomes more challening. My son now has at the minimum an hour of homework a night-- although not usually more than 2... but he is just a freshman. I think it's probably hardest to be a truly ''average'' student with basic skills in the Piedmont schools, that's just my opinion. I wouldn't call it a competitive environment, but the kids are pretty skilled, (they do, after all come from a very educated parent base) and that's just the truth of things. Good luck. Piedmont parent
Our daughter has not had too much homework - this year about 1.5 hours Mon-Thurs, and virtually none on weekends/vacations. I have heard a parent say that their 6th grader did have too much, but again most parents share my satisfaction. I've heard that some of the middle schoolers have boy/girlfriends, but it seems to be only going on with a small subset of the 6th grade, albeit a highly visible subset. Our daughter is not in this subset, is very pretty, and like her friends does not have a boyfriend, has not been asked out, and has no romance on the horizon. She's busy with school, extracurriculars (I think Piedmont shines here in terms of what is offered: languages, sports, drama - but again I can't make comparisons).
My daughter seems challenged, seems to be really learning - she has a deep grasp of the topics covered and doesn't seem stressed but on rare occasion. This could change; middle school can be a tough, rapidly changing period. Our satisfaction seems to be echoed by the vast majority of the other 6th grade parents I've spoken to. I can't speak to the other middle school grades yet. Most importantly, she really likes her school; and we've delved pretty deeply into the possibilities with her, including going to a Berkeley school. Of course, all she knows about Berkeley schools is what she's heard from a few/several friends who go there. Good luck! satisfied parent
We're considering a move to Piedmont for the schools. Can any current
parent or teacher give me a sense of the instruction there--how
how test-driven? how creative are the teachers in their instruction? do
in rows or have a chance to work in groups? do students do projects or
pencil-and-paper tasks (or both)? how much pressure is there to
Prospective Kindergarten parent
I think the two Kindergarten teachers at Beach are amazing. The kids are having a blast while they are learning. The teachers integrate several subjects at the same time - so while they are doing a cooking project, they teach a bit of math, a bit of reading, a bit of science. Circle time is an amazing demonstration of virtuosity and fluidity - teaching new concepts from several disciplines at the same time they are going over simple reading lessons. The kids seem engaged - they don't look bored. The teachers sure don't have the discipline problems I imagined they'd have with these little ones having to pay attention.
I don't know if the upper grades are just as good. I've not seen those teachers first hand, but I've been hearing positive reviews from the parents I know. Concerning whether they sit in rows? From what I can see as I walk down the halls, it looks like the kids in other grades work in groups sometimes, and sit at desks other times. I'll be interested to see what replies you get. kimberly
How textbook-based? IT DEPENDS. How test-driven? IT DEPENDS. How creative are the teachers in their instruction? IT DEPENDS. Do students sit in rows or have a chance to work in groups? IT DEPENDS. Do students do projects or primarily pencil-and-paper tasks (or both)? IT DEPENDS. How much pressure is there to excel/acheive? IT DEPENDS.You see, your child will be in 13 different grades if you move there for K-12. From 6th grade on, your child will have about 6-7 different teachers a year. Your child will be mostly safe (from a crime standpoint), your child will be surrounded by many children with fantastic advantages, and your child will be lucky enough to be in a system where parents generously supplement a budget that is not adequately funded by the state. However, your child will still be in school. Think back to when you were in school. There were probably good teachers and bad, good years and bad, interesting and not-so-interesting projects, nice kids and ones you'd rather not be around. Did you survive? My guess is yes. If your child goes to school in Piedmont, or anywhere, and goes on to college, your child will go to school with a new group of kids who all managed to make it there whether they were from even ''better''' places than Piedmont (!), or, more incredibly...places that are not thought of as highly. Kids have good and bad experiences in all kinds of schools. Sometimes you just have to wait and actually experience something to find out how it's all going to go. Some kids love Piedmont, and some hate it, and, this same phenomenon happens all over, in many, many schools and districts. -sick of the school panic
The level of instruction at Piedmont is generally very good, but people who go into teaching anywhere are dedicated. It's very hard work. Parents are people; teachers are people. There were teachers who drove me up the wall who were regarded as splendid by other parents, and vice versa. Piedmont schools have more parental support than other communities. Other schools' parents claim they have to work and that's why they're not more active. That's not true. In Piedmont, the parents who are taking time off work to help in their kids' schools often have very demanding careers----executives , doctors , lawyers , professors, etc---moms as well as dads. Their children learn about time management and success from their home, not from school instruction. Piedmont parents provide a broad suport network (monetary and with their own labor) to fill the enormous gap between state funding and the costs of running a decent school system. Piedmont has parents that are truly dedicated to their children and back it up with actions, not words. Piedmont resident
My three kids (all boys) have gone to Piedmont schools for about
ten years; our 8th grader has spent his middle school years at
Black Pine Circle,one has just left Havens Elem for the middle
school, and one is a sophmore at the high school. While
Piedmont isn't as diverse as other surrounding areas, it works
hard to ensure that all folks are very comfortable. I won't
repeat anything said here by GLBT folks or people of color, but
when I ran the Cub Scout program in town (we were the first
Council in the country to renounce the national org's membership
policy), I remember doing a head-count of the demographics of
the pack at Havens Elem--the school that covers many of the more
expensive homes in town. 27% were non-white--admittedly, mostly
Asian-American or bi-racial/bi-ethnic. And as is the case with
huge portions of the East Bay's high schoolers, it's impossible
to tell the ethnic background of many of the students, if you
thought that was a good use of time. My son who looks like his
dark-skinned German grandfather is sometimes asked by kids at
school if he's part Latino--perfectly plausible in this town,
and he gets a chuckle out of it.
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