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Enrolling in the West Contra Costa Public Schools
My family and I will be moving to the East Bay this summer, and we've been thinking about renting or buying something in east El Cerrito so that our son (now in kindergarten) can attend Madera. But we were told that 1st grade is already oversubscribed, and that there is a chance that our son would be displaced into another elementary, even if we lived in Madera's zone. Have other parents encountered this problem? Is it common that students are displaced this way? If we were displaced, would our chances of getting in for 2nd grade be better? I'd be obliged for any advice. Brian
Since the school board recently voted to close Castro (despite it being the third highest scoring school in El Cerrito, and one of the best in the district), the other El Cerrito schools are impacted, taking in all of the displaced Castro students. Since there is not enough room for them in El Cerrito schools, they too are being sent to schools outside of El Cerrito. It is truly a nightmare for everyone.
Try your luck, but don't be surprised if you cannot get into Madera, or any El Cerrito school. I would shoot for Berkeley, or even Albany. Thinking of packing up and leaving!
If you get displaced to Kensington Hilltop, nothing to worry about. It is a good school in a good community. Also, the people that go to Harding and Fairmont love their schools too. But it would be a bit of a drive for you. I would fight being placed at Castro because it is going to close soon ( they would be fools if they put you there, but who knows what they would do).
I was on a waiting list for Hilltop three years ago and this was the procedure. Attend Hilltop for a certain period of time until they are SURE there is no room for you. Can't remember how long..a couple of weeks? If there is no room, then you get assigned to your school. It sucks totally. How can you possibly make plans? Then when room opens, you get put back in your home school.
Here is the website for the transfer office:
If they are not helpful, appeal directly to Dr. Harter, Supt of Schools. Tell him transfer office has not been helpful and you are going to put your kid in private school if you don't get a good line of communication. Good Luck
There is plenty of room for displaced Castro students in EC schools because for years EC schools were not full. Some had as many as 30-50% transfers but those kids are now graduating which is also freeing up more spots.
As for ''displaced'' residents, one of the biggest challenges for Madera and Kensington is that many parents opt not to go to their resident school and apply for a transfer. This is what happened at Madera for many years.
In addition, when the board redistricted several years ago, Madera got a huge draw and the Kensington draw was enlarged to include part of the EC Hills. For example, families within walking distance of Castro were suddenly part of the Madera draw. This made sense back then because the Richmond schools were full and the EC schools were not.
However, now that the ''resident'' draw is growing in EC, these schools will start to limit transfers and if they also increase class size, that should solve the problem for nearly all resident EC families.
Finally, the board voted to make transfers re-apply every year (starting with the kids who enter school in the 09-10 school year). This will give the transfer office more flexibility in being able to accommodate residents moving into a specific school draw. Essentially, transfers may be re-directed back to their ''resident school'' if they are displacing new residents moving into the area.
So if Madera is the school you really want as long as you register early, you should have no trouble securing a spot.
In response to the last post, regarding the new availability of spaces at Madera due to the school board's vote to increase class size. This is not true. As of today, the district has stated that NO transfers will be honored for Madera. Period. So, unless a vast amount of people move, you will not get into Madera.
Call the transfer office for verification and for further updates. Madera parent
The district has 3 options now:
(1) add another classroom if there is space
(2) force transfers to go back to their resident school
(3) find spots for residents at other schools
My guess would be number 3. Fortunately, there are many excellent schools that displaced ''resident'' families may be directed to.
BTW, this happens a lot at other schools too. Kids don't come in neat little packages of 20, 24, and 28. Also, families move in and out of the schools a lot due to job changes, divorce, and all kinds of reasons.
A family I know with three school-age children tried to enroll at Washington Elementary (their neighborhood school) and was told they didn't have enough spots for all 3 kids. They found space for them at an El Cerrito school and they are very happy there.
It's stressful for parents but the kids are very resilient and it usually works out fine.
My daughter will be 5 in March, so it will be time for her to start kindergarten next fall. I live in Richmond and I know I want to send her to public school, but I have no idea how to get started. Do I call schools and take tours? Do I sign her up for a lottery system? Do I even get a choice of schools if I want one? I've read the ''Schools, Preschools and Camps'' newsletter for years now, but I'm still a little unsure of how everything works in my school district. Also--how do I find out what school district I'm in? --embarassed by how little I know
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