Benicia Schools

Hi there,
We are very excited and sad to be moving from our home in the Colorado Mountains to the Bay Area.  Benicia is looking like where we might land.  Can you tell us about the schools?  We're hoping for diversity, for a whole approach that is not hyper focused on testing (art, music, theater valued as well as academics), and not huge amounts of homework every night.  Our kids are 15, 13, 11 and 8, so high school, middle and elementary.  A couple of them are atypical learners/creative types.  Can you share your insights? recommendations?

We'd also love to hear about neighborhoods.  Looking for a light filled home close to hiking/walking trails.

Thank you so much!
Twila and Jon Warner

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RE: Benicia Schools ()

Hello and welcome to the Bay! I am a teacher in an adjacent school district and know many, many teachers who work for Benicia Unified.  Although the high school has a strong arts program, overall the district spends a lot of time and emphasis on test prep and there is significant homework starting in Kindergarten.  Much of the homework appears to be driven by parent demand for "rigorous" academics, so that even the teachers I know who recognize the dubious value of homework in elementary feel compelled to issue substantial homework packets.  I would strongly recommend Benicia if you guys were looking for a traditional affluent suburban experience with traditional schools, but it doesn't sound like that is what you want.  I also have found from talking to my artsy friends who grew up in Benicia that they felt fairly isolated as teenagers because they were just that little bit too far from Berkeley/San Francisco and most teen activities were focused around sports.