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Washington Elementary School (Richmond, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > West Contra Costa County School District > Washington Elementary School (Richmond, CA)


see also: Preschool at Washington Elementary School

Washington Elem Kindergarten and aftercare?

Jan 2012

We are very convenient to Washington School in Point Richmond and have a child going into Kindergarten this coming September. We went to the Spanish Immersion Program information night and were less than impressed. Apparently there are 50% English native speakers and 50% Spanish speakers in the Kindergarten class - but 80 to 90% of instruction is in Spanish. This makes no sense to me. Why would the instruction not be 50% in each language? I would love to hear honest opinions from English-speaking families who entered this Kindergarten program.

I would also like to hear from anyone who is in the regular (all English speaking) Kindergarten class. And also - love to hear about the after-care at the YMCA associated with the school. We do have some concerns about our daughters' learning style, and think she would benefit from a small and less chaotic class environment, so anything you can tell us, good or bad, to help us decide, would be great.

We are hustling to learn about possible private schools in El Cerrito, Berkeley and Emeryville, but we would LOVE to be able to walk her to school so are hoping Washington is a good choice. Thanks for all info you can provide. Possible Washington Mom and Dad


I have two children in dual immersion in Washington at Pt. Richmond. I can't speak to the English track but I can tell you that the 90:10 ratio of instruction applies to kindergarten only. In first grade it is 20:80, then 30:70 and so on until 4th grade when it's 50:50. This is the most beneficial according to the research on dual immersion instruction. The reality is that support is almost all in English, the music teacher, the yard coach, the lunch ladies, the speech therapist, the school psychologist, etc do not speak Spanish, as a rule. so this messes with the ratios somewhat.

Having about half the kids be native speakers of each language is also research based. There are always a couple of kids who enter the program already bilingual and their parents want to maintain that. I don't know how they are grouped but they are very few.

As for after school. My kids were in ycare for 3 and 1 year. they really liked it. it's small and run by mature adults who really care about the kids, help them with their homework, play games and organize activities and are responsive to the concerns of parents. They are also open during school holidays with very few exceptions and during the summer. they have a really great summer program with cooking, field trips etc.

The after school program is not open to kindergarteners but to first grade and up. theirs is larger and less personal. Also the individual teachers are very varied. some being more mature, responsible and interactive with the kids than others. It does dove-tail nicely with tutoring which some teachers do with some of the students after school. It also offers a bunch of extra-curricular activities like scouts, BEAM, dance, chess. and it is free. My kids are both in the after school program this year and they both seem to enjoy it very much. hope that helps


Our child is currently in kindergarten in the Washington Dual Immersion program. As the person who initially responded to your question mentioned, the effectiveness of the 90/10 dual immersion model that Washington uses is supported by a lot of research and was not chosen arbitrarily. Though the kindergarteners start with the 90% Spanish/10% English mix, 10% of English is added each year until they reach 50/50 in 4th grade. We are an English speaking family and this approach makes sense to us. Then again, our child had a lot of exposure to Spanish in preschool so had a good foundation going in to the program. Depending on the child, it could be an intense year for a native English speaker with little to no exposure to Spanish.

So far we have been very happy with the program and the school, though we wish the district could afford to keep the class sizes even smaller than they already are and/or provide the teachers with a full-time aide in the class room. One teacher to 24 kindergartners is NOT ideal, but parent volunteers in the class help as much as they can. Our child is able to tune out the distractions and can focus on the instruction but I see many kids who struggle.

Our child is not in the aftercare program but we have heard good things about it from other parents and I have had frequent, positive interactions with the staff from Y Care while at the school. Please call Y Care to confirm, but it's my understanding that there IS aftercare for the kindergarteners. At least for the ones from the afternoon DI kinder class.

In making your decision, please keep in mind that there is both an AM and PM dual immersion kindergarten. If both of you work, and your child ends up in the afternoon class, child care before school could be tricky. Though Y Care is technically set up to provide before school care to the kids who are in the afternoon kinder class, they are not offering it this year since there were not enough kids to run the program (or so they told the parents). In fact, at the start of the school year they offered before care but told the parents with kids in the program 1-2 weeks into the school year that they did not have enough kids in the program to keep it going. Those parents had to scramble to find other arrangements.

If Washington is your home school hopefully your child would be placed in the AM DI kinder class, but I'm sure they can't guarantee that. Since you won't be notified until May (at earliest) 1. if your child was accepted into the DI program and 2. if he/she will be in the AM or PM class, depending on what your child care needs are, you might be uncomfortable with the uncertainty of the possible child care arrangements. Happy Washington Parent


How difficult is it to transfer to dual-immersion program?

July 2011

Could any parents of students at Washington Elementary in Point Richmond who do not live in the school's neighborhood zone explain how difficult it is to get into the dual immersion program? Is there typically a waiting list for kindergarteners? Or, are most kindergarteners who live in the district accepted into the kindergarten class? Has anyone not been accepted for kindergarten but then accepted for first grade? Are there differences in acceptance rates depending on the child's home language? (We speak English at home, but our child has been at a Spanish bilingual preschool). Jennifer


my child did not end up attending, but we were accepted on the first try for kindergarten (and as English only speaking, into the dual immersion program), residing in Richmond, with Washington not being our neighborhood school. We didn't do anything special, just followed the guidelines/ deadlines for an intra-district transfer in WCCUD. First you write a brief reasoning for transferring out of assigned neighborhood school and that school signs to allow you ''out'', in this case you say it is for the Spanish immersion program which is not available at your assigned school. If you are out of district entirely, it may be only available if there are late openings. Chris

Feedback on Washington Elementary - Point Richmond

July 2011

I have been trying to find feedback and reviews from families whose children have attended Washington Elementary in Point Richmond. My son is a year or so out from Kindergarten but I am trying to research possible schools early. I have heard the school has a good Spanish immerson program but that is about all I can find. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Andrea


This is in response to both the questions about Washington Elementary in Richmond:

My kids go to Washington and I find it's been very rewarding. there is a very active PTA and Point Richmond is a close-knit community with lots of resources.

Both my kids are in dual immersion and both started in kindergarten. My understanding is that kids can come in to dual immersion if there is space in kindergarten or 1st grade. After that they have to test to make sure they are proficient enough in both languages. If you do go for dual immersion, it is really expected that you stay for the entire time - through 6th grade if at all possible. When kids are pulled, it leaves a hole that is hard to fill in later grades when the curriculum is taught in both languages and proficiency in both is required. Getting into first grade may be tricky since the first grade max is 20 per class while the K max is 25. not sure how they work this screwy bit of bureaucracy. Certainly it's worth asking.

We are intra-district transfers as are about 2/3rd's of the families that go to Washington. You do have to jump through a few extra hoops to get a transfer and if you are interested in dual immersion, speaking Spanish as a first language is an asset since balancing the native speakers of each language is necessary to make the program work. I had one child who went to a Spanish preschool and one who didn't, it doesn't matter in terms of admissions. The primary language spoken at home is the one that counts. There is generally a waiting list and it changes every week from when parents first apply the winter before into the school year in the fall - persistence is the key as with any bureaucracy. You should go to the school and speak with the principle, she is there during the summer. AND you should go to the district transfer office to apply for the official transfer. find out each of the next steps and time frames, get names, call often, be nice and don't take no for an answer. last year was the first year we actually had full kindergarten classes despite the district turning people away citing lack of space EVERY YEAR since I've been a parent there (3 years)! The process changes in an effort to make things more organized and efficient every year. good luck


Air Quality at Washington?

Sept 2009

My daughter has just recieved a transfer to the Washington Elementary bi-lingual program in Pt. Richmond. I hadn't thought much about the air quality there until now. Is it much different than the rest of the bay because of it's close proximity to the Cheveron Refinery, Or does all that pollution just spread around the bay. I'm excited about the school, but don't want to sacrifice my daughter's health. Any information would be appreciated.


A couple of groups you could contact to find out more data on the issue are the Bay Area Air resources Board, a group that tracks air quality and (i think) gives out air discharge permits. You can ask them (and maybe their librarian?) where you would go to find the answer to your question (is it worse there than elsewhere in the bay area?) and also ask - is it worse there than by the other elementary schools my kid might attend? The other group is a citizen's groups whose name I forget, but they are very involved with Richmond air pollution issues related to the refineries. I imagine you could google and find them. You could also go to a local richmond public library reference librarian to ask where you can find the info. Many of those reference librarians are quite knowledgeable. My hunch is that the breezes from the Golden Gate probably keep the Point's air quality in relatively good shape. But I'm no expert. Its Always Good to be Informed
USA Today published a groundbreaking series about 18 months ago on industrial pollution and the nation's 128,000 public and private schools. You can read all the stories here: http://content.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/smokestack/index There's a tab where you can look up how individual schools rank. Their model took wind patterns into account. Lisa
This is not a comment specific to air quality issues at Washington Elementary. For all I know, with all of the refineries nearby, there could definitely be some problems. I just wanted to warn people to be careful about reading too much into the study published by the USA Today that was referenced in a prior answer. It may be accurate on some points, but it also can be very misleading.

The model behind the study is not so easily applied here in the Bay Area as it might be in other parts of the country, primarily due to the variety of weather patterns we have over such a (relatively) small area. More importantly, the grid that was used to evaluate this was so widespread that it captures large areas in a single grid block, and assigns the same risk of pollution across the entire area.

Example: there are two ''Polluters most responsible for toxics'' at schools in Mill Valley. They are Pacific Steel in Berkeley and Tesoro Refinery in Martinez. Given prevailing wind patterns and distance, the likelihood is extremely remote that those two places contribute in any way to air quality in Mill Valley.

http://content.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/smokestack/index

Richmond resident, environmental consultant


May 2009

Hi, Our son will be starting kindergarten in 2010 and we are looking into Washington. I would like to get some feedback, from parents who have children currently enrolled there, on the quality of the teachers, curriculum, and overall environment. I would also like to know about the aftercare program and the level of parent involvement in the PTA. Thank you in advance


My son is in kindergarten at Washington Elementary and we love it. He is in the dual immersion program learning Spanish and English (we speak English at home) and I can't believe how much Spanish he has already picked up. They have traditional English-only track too. The PTA is very active and growing fast. They are working on many different activities to improve life a the school and of course a lot of fundraising that makes these projects possible. There are days they get together to work on the gardens, movie nights, classroom volunteers and many other activities which help the school run smoothly. The campus has been recently renovated - clean and neat, the kids wear uniforms - white, blue and khaki. The teachers I have met so far are dedicated above and beyond the call and really seem to enjoy their work.

There is an after school program that I don't know a lot about. It takes the same holidays as the school - easter week, winter break, 2 weeks at Christmas. I didn't look into it since that aspect didn't work with my schedule. There is also Y-care just next door and the Y-care teachers come to pick up the kids when school is out. That is where my son goes a few days a week.

I highly recommend you contact the Principle and pay a visit. ilona


Nov 2008

Re: Transfering from Albany to a Berkeley dual immersion program
HI- I can't answer your questions about Berkeley, but if dual- immersion is important to you I believe you would have a much greater chance of getting into Pt. Richmond's Washington Elementary, (which used to have half day K but last I heard was close to switching to longer day kindergarten.) Albany should have no problem letting you out, and WCCUSD I'm sure would let you in if there is room in the program, which is an excellent dual immersion program. chris


Sept 2008

Does anyone have any recent feedback about K at Washington Elem's dual Spanish Immersion Program in PT Richmond? I am very interested in a dual immersion program for my son and it is in our district. Thanks in advance- Wanting a bilingual boy


My sister in law is the principal at Washington School, and here's her reaction:
''The Dual Immersion program at Washington is currently kindergarten through fourth grade. Our program is a '90-10'program, meaning that in the kindergarten year, the instruction is 90% Spanish and 10% English. Then in 1st grade, it is 80% Spanish and 20% English and so on through the grades. The classes are ideally composed of 50% Spanish speakers and 50% English speakers. This is a challenging program and we ask parents to commit to 6 years in order for the students to be bi-lingual and bi-literate. The kindergaten classes do fill up early so if you are interested, sign up in early February. There will be a Parent information evening in December for prospective kinder parents. Call the school for more information about that evening 231-1417. Lisa Levi, Principal.
-Maureen
Dec 2007

Re: Spanish bilingual school
I placed my daughter in the Dual Immersion Kindergarten at Washington Elementary in Pt. Richmond and thus far, it has been a positive experience. She is friends with everyone in her class and is eagar to do her homework each night. The fact that she's learning to read in both English and Spanish, soothes any concerns I may have had about her scholastic development. There's an information night at the school every December with a Kindergarten tour around January. This year's Info Night is on December 13th at 6:30pm. You can ask questions and hear for yourself how the program works. grappavincent


Oct 2007

Hi, I'm looking into a Dual Immersion program for my son who will start kindergarten in Fall 2008--our district is West Contra Costa. My son doesn't speak any Spanish now and my husband and I only speak a little. While I'm excited about the opportunity for my son to become bilingual, I'm curious about the experience of non-Spanish speaking children in a dual immersion program--it looks like the school in our district is 90% Spanish/10% English in kindergarten. I'm afraid he may get frustrated or feel like he's failing if he can't understand much of what goes on in the classroom. I'd love to hear from other families about their children's experiences in general and also about experiences at Washington School in Richmond, in particular. Thanks. Dual Immersion for us?


I will be sending my child to the dual immersion kindergarten at Washington Elementary next year. Many of my friends have put their children in there this year and they love it! Most of them are in the situation as you and I - their kids don't speak any Spanish and the parents have little or no Spanish. The kids really seem to be settling in well and enjoying themselves! This is a growing program; they will be up to 4th grade next year. The teachers are excellent and very committed and they are supported by an active parent community. Washington recently underwent a remodel and the new facilities look fantastic. It is located in Point Richmond, which is a great little community and very safe.

If you would like some more information about the program, please feel free to get in touch with the dual-immersion parent contacts. There will also be an information night at the school at 6pm on Thursday December 16th. Elizabeth


My two girls are in the third grade in Washington's Dual Immersion program and they love it. We do not really speak any Spanish (just had a bit in high school) but now the girls do! They went to a different school for kindergarten so missed the first year but that wasn't a problem. Before they went to Washington my girls had a little exposure to Spanish (45 minutes a week for a few months). Although I can't really comment on kindergarten what I saw of the beginning of first grade was that the teacher was very verbal in her body language and thus if the children didn't understand the words they understood what the teacher was doing or motioning/ demonstrating for them to do. Homework has been going OK. I don't have any problem with the math homework. We keep a good dictionary to help with the Spanish language arts homework. Please feel free to email me it you have other questions.

There is a recruitment night, December 13 at 6:00 in the Washington school auditorium. Karen


Oct 2007

Re: Kindergarten options in west contra costa unified
You might want to check out the Spanish Immersion program at Washington Elementary in Point Richmond. The Point is not a separate city/town...it is Richmond. The school is a public, West County school. The immersion program has been available there since 2004, I believe. I have several VERY discriminating friends whose children attend. They have been very pleased. In El Cerrito, there is Madera that has the stellar reputation. Wishing you good luck


Dec 2005

I've heard there is a Spanish Dual Immersion program at Washington Elementary School in Point Richmond. Does anyone have any information about or experience with this program? Thanks Karen


Our son is a kindergarten student in the English-Spanish Dual Immersion program at Washington School. We would be happy to share our experience and put you in touch with the woman who runs the program. Patrick
Hi! I happen to have my daughter in the Washington Elementary School immersion program. She's in first grade and started last year in kindergarten when the program started. I'm thrilled with how she's doing. Her Spanish is superb- she comprehends evrything, she's speaking and reading and writing in Spanish- she's doing great. The families in this program are really wonderful- they're very committed to their children's education and they are very involved. I feel like she's in a private school and I would pay for the education she's getting. These families have chosen this program just like you would chose your private school. The children all progress through school together as a special class, just like you would in a private school. The families are committed and involved, just like in a private school. The teachers are really good and clever in integrating arts into the academic curriculum. Recently, they successfully argued to the district that they should utilize a different curriculum than Open Court because it's not appropriate for these dual immersion kids. And yet, it's a public school! We just completed a renovation, so the kids have new classrooms, new library, new facilities- they love it! We'll have some introductory meetings in January, but you can contact me any time for more information. I'll be glad to answer questions and take you on a tour! Diane
Jan 2004

Washington School (K-5) in Pt. Richmond is creating a Dual- Immersion/Spanish-English program to begin with the Kindergarten class starting Fall 2004. In addition to teaching kids to be bilingual and biliterate, research has shown that Dual Immersion programs develop skills in all subjects and by 5th grade the test scores are typically above grade level for both English and Spanish speakers. Washington School has a new principal this year and will have a remodeled campus by Fall 2005. The school maintains it's Magnet School status and receives significant Federal funds which support the whole school. The school also receives tremendous support from the Pt. Richmond community and businesses through the Many Hands program.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Janet Heckmann, 236-6088. Janet is a community parent who is spearheading this effort. Spanish speaking parents may call Jon Mayer, 215-2828.


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