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We are moving to the East Bay area over the winter holidays with a 2nd grader. We had heard great things about the Albany schools, but quickly realized we were priced out of them. Then we had heard that Berkeley schools are great. Still waiting to hear if we are priced out of those Then I started reading about Kensington and El Cerrito. What is the overall experience you've had in these schools? My daughter (only in 2nd grade FWIW) doesn't seem to be particularly gifted academically, though it may be due to lack of motivation/interest. What do you think of these schools? And Kensington vs. El Cerrito? We're trying to look at this big picture: 2nd grade through 12th. Kim
The jump to middle school is much talked about in our Kensington/El Cerrito community- many kids leave the district for private schools or finagle their way in to Albany and Berkeley middle and high schools. Since both post-writers are many years away from making that kind of decision for your younger kids, I won't belabor the issues related to that, except to say that we decided to stay with our district middle school and are glad we did. Our daughter has new challenges at Portola, social and academic, and continues to excel due to great teachers there and an exceptional new principal. If you have other questions, feel free to email me directly. Luisa
Harding has strong academics, excellent teachers (with a few notable exceptions), and is a very safe campus. It's a beautiful school.
Portola is thriving under a very popular principal (liked by parents, respected by teachers) and the small close-knit temporary campus has resolved the safety issues this school had in past years. There are some good electives--band, theater, leadership, Spanish. Parent involvement and support is very strong this year.
El Cerrito High is like a smaller version of Berkeley High. A wide range of choices for kids (Special Ed to Advanced Placement), a strong sports program, drama, art, dance, It's a palace compared to the high school I attended.
We supplement with parent support for homework, after school activities, and summer enrichment and both of us have given a lot of time and money to support the schools. As with anything, the more you put into it, the more your kids get out of it. public school mom
I moved to a townhouse (rental)in Hercules last year after a layoff and going through a short sale of my El Cerrito/Richmond hills border home. My son will start kindergarten this fall and due to all of the residency rules, I feel forced to place him in a Hercules school. Having essentially been a lifelong El Cerrito resident and fairly new to Hercules, I am somewhat nervous about him starting out in Hercules and I have concern about his academic trajectory. He is currently in a wonderful, private preschool very near El Cerrito so I also have some trepidation about the transition from a private school experience to public school experience. I would appreciate a response from anyone with experience with Hercules schools and/or thoughts on intradistrict transfers or thoughts in general about this post. Thanks. Anxious, nervous mom
It is all but impossible to get a transfer within the district if you are not zoned to a Title I school. I don't think any schools in Hercules are Title I. I have friends that are zoned to Title I schools and they didn't hear about their transfer options until two weeks in to the school year, when their kids were already in private school. The district is stingy with transfers because they want to make sure classrooms are as full as possible... and if a classroom isn't full, they'll leave the open spots available for overflow from schools that can't accommodate all their residents.
You didn't mention which school you're zoned to. I know that Hanna Ranch is well-regarded. Ohlone is soon to get a new building, which will make it a more attractive school. My general feeling is that WCCUSD schools are improving in part because lots of us can't afford private, and we can't get transfers, so we are left with little choice but to roll up our sleeves and work hard to make our neighborhood schools better.
I am wondering how parents get their children to elementary school(s) in El Cerrito? We are contemplating a move there for a couple of years while I finish up my program, which would entail K-Gr 2 for my son, starting Fall of 2011. It seems like Madera and Mira Vista are both way up in the hills, and I am wondering how parents get their kids to school. Is there a school bus? Is it up to the parents? How does it work for kindergarten? We are on the fence between having our own house in El Cerrito and living in University Village, and to be honest, the transportation to and from school is the deciding factor. (I have also heard that El Cerrito schools are full, and overload kids are getting sent elsewhere. Are they being bussed, or is it up to the parents to get their kids to school?) Thanks so much! No Desire to Drive
Mira Vista is less high in the hills than Madera, and therefore a little more accessible by foot. My child goes there--we live .75 mile away and walk some of the time. But still, if you really don't want to drive, stick to Albany. anon
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