Bilingual Spanish Preschool-5th grade - which public school?

We are searching for where we can live in the Bay Area, or anywhere in NorCal, where we can guarantee our Spanish-speaking child can go to a great Spanish language immersion program for preschool and/or Kinder to 5th grade. We know there is a Spanish immersion elementary school in Berkeley and one in Oakland, but just living close by is not enough. Surely, in California, this exists? Thank you!

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I'm sure they must be out there, but the only K-8 Spanish immersion pathway that I personally know of that's pretty much guaranteed is Davis.  That said, if you keep up your child's level of fluency even if you don't get a K spot initially in OUSD, BUSD, SFUSD, etc. you eventually would likely be able to get a spot in the class due to attrition-- it's always harder for language immersion programs to replace students who leave/move.

Oakland Unified has seven elementary schools with dual immersion (Spanish-English) programs. Middle-class families have flocked to Melrose Leadership Academy in recent years and many people seem to think that is the only program in the district, but that is incorrect (10-15 years ago middle-class families flocked to Manzanita SEED). More information and a full list of schools is here - If you listed only schools with dual immersion programs on your Options form you would definitely get into one of them (and several are wonderful but chronically underenrolled programs). San Leandro Unified also has a dual immersion (Spanish-English) program at Washington Elementary. None of these schools have "good" scores on Greatschools because they don't have great test scores (partly because test scores typically lag for dual-immersion students and partly because they enroll a high proportion of low-income students and test scores are always correlated with socio-economic status). That doesn't mean that they are not amazing school communities providing quality education - and they are absolutely worth exploring.

Also interested in the same thing :)  EBI is great but would prefer a public option.

There are a couple of great options with Oakland Unified!  Some of which we decided to put on our list for our current kindergartener. OUSD has a list on their website: We chose to live in Oakland in part because of the likelihood our kids could do bilingual public education.

I think Melrose Leadership Academy is most people's favorite. It does not have a neighborhood to draw from and so there's no way to guarantee your child will go there. It runs through 8th grade. We've put it #1 on our list for two years now.

Manzanita Seed is also popular. When I toured there two years ago I liked it but wasn't in love. It went #4 on our list. I think that it often has a long waitlist. I'm not sure if everyone in the neighborhood can go there if they want or not.

At the time we were doing the lottery for kindergarten we were in boundary for International Community School and I loved it when I toured it. I think it's kind of a secret diamond, though is starting to get more interest from families who aren't able to get into Melrose or Manzanita. Last I checked only about 50% of the students come from the neighborhood, and so you could live elsewhere and try to get a spot from the lottery if you don't like the neighborhood. The principle who gave us the tour was friendly and professional. She obviously new the kids and the community well. There was a lot of flexibility in the classroom- different seating options, etc. They just got a new playground and have gotten a lot of grants for other improvements- a librarian and library for example. It would have definitely been #1 on our list except that we wanted our kids speaking Spanish through middle school, so it was #3 for us.

The school was was #2 on our list and that we ended up at is Greenleaf. It is currently bilingual up to 3 or 4 grade but each year they add a grade. Eventually it will be Spanish bilingual through 8th. It was a failing school that was closed down and restarted with community input and has improved a lot since then. When they asked what people wanted they told the district a bilingual program. Most of the kids live in the in-boundary neighborhood but we didn't. We were first on the waitlist (12 I think) and got called during the summer. When I toured I liked it; it seemed well run and like a good school but I didn't love it as much as ICS. But the building is just as nice and they also have a library. We've been mostly happy there, though it's been a weird year to start kindergarten. Since we've been online we've not connected as much to the school. But my child's teacher is excellent. They are trying to build school community with special online events. They are fairly good at communicating with parents.

For preschool all my kids have gone to Colibri Preschool in Oakland, and it's awesome. I can't say enough great things about it- both pre and post-Covid. Since it's a private preschool there's no way to make sure you'll have a spot there. It has 2-4 year olds.

Washington Elementary in Point Richmond is a Bilingual, Spanish immersion school.  It is in the West Contra Costa United School District. 

We live in Point Richmond - it's the last stop before the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge. It's a very lovely place to live with some pros and cons to be aware of - but for us one of the big appeals is the dual-immersion public school (currently K-6), Washington Elementary. Our daughter will start in the fall (I hope!), so we can't tell you much about it but we've heard good things and I went to an info session and spoke with a parent who has been really happy, and commutes from Albany. Feel free to PM with any more specific questions about Richmond, the Point, etc. 

There are a number of Spanish dual immersion elementaries in Oakland, so that might be a good bet if you're willing to commute. Berkeley now only has one and it is difficult to get into. Otherwise, Washington Elementary in Point Richmond is the only one that comes to mind. It is Spanish dual immersion and I believe neighborhood families have priority there. Good luck!

Hi! If you end up looking at Independent Schools as well, I highly recommend The Renaissance International School (TRIS).

TRIS is for ages 2 - junior high and offers immersion in French or Spanish (you choose which one) from ages 2 - kindergarten and then 1st-8th grade the children become trilingual, learning in all three languages.

The primary campus is located by Dimond Park in Oakland and the elementary campus is located technically in Piedmont but is right at the top of Park Ave in Oakland, near the Montclair (an Oakland neighborhood). 

FYI, TRIS is Montessori but for us that was just a bonus - we came for the French after a negative experience elsewhere.

We have loved it so very much - the very low teacher-student ratios, the incredible choral and kodaly music instruction, the robust art program and the international travel opportunities for elementary schoolers. You'll find that the teachers, even teachers from other classrooms, as well as the administration, know your child almost as well as you do! The care that is put into each decision, process, program at all levels of the school shines through. It really is an extraordinary place.

I'm happy to answer any questions if you feel like checking it out! 

Momma to a TRIS 3rd grader