Berkeley Elementary Schools Central Zone


We are moving to Berkeley in December with a 10 year-old boy and a 7 year-old girl. We intend to enroll the kids in one of the public (elementary) schools in the zone we’ll be living. In order to fill the Parent Preference Form I’ve selected three schools that are near to the house we rented, and I’d like to have updated reviews about them. I’m considering ranking the preferences also based on the size of the school, as our kids are used to a small school here and we prefer a similar experience for them in Berkeley. The schools near our house are: Washington Elementary, Malcom X Elementary, and Berkeley Arts Magnet at Whittier (BAM). Any comment on them?


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The quick answer is that all Berkeley public schools are great, so you can definitely rank your preferences by convenience or size. I ranked by proximity, got my first choice (Malcolm X), and am very happy. It does not bother me (or my kindergartener) that it is a large school. Best wishes with the application!

We attend Washington and love it!

All of the elementary schools in Berkeley are awesome - and I'm not making this up. But if you are looking for a small campus, Malcolm X is the biggest one in Berkeley. But the bottom line is that you will get a spot for your children in the school with the most available spaces for them. Wherever they wind up, rest assured that the teachers are great and the parent communities vibrant and involved.

For what it's worth, my 7 year old is at Washington, and we absolutely love it. It's one of the larger schools, but it doesn't feel that way. Your choices will be taken into consideration, but i'm not sure how much! You can't really go wrong at any of the BUSD schools, IMO. Good luck! 

Just a quick note that you might also want to check the start times on the school websites, if that makes a difference for your schedule. We're at Cragmont, which starts at 9 -- my kids take the bus from the flats, and it works well with our schedule but I imagine wouldn't be great for other households. I think both Malcolm X and Washington start closer to 8.

Agree with others that you can't really go wrong with any of the BUSD schools, and you aren't guaranteed your first choice, so just know that they are all good options!

-Happy mom of two Cragmont Dragons