El Cerrito Elementary Schools
We’re looking to purchase a home in El Cerrito and are wondering about folks’ experiences with the elementary schools. We’d prefer Harding but almost nothing comes up for sale in the area (and as a consequence these homes are mostly outside our budget). Any reason to try to end up in Madera rather than Fairmount, or same difference? Thanks!
Feb 21, 2020
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Current parent at Harding here. Harding is great, but you should look at the upcoming WCCUSD budget crisis of $47.5 million dollars. Next year the district plans on laying off hundreds of teachers, administrators, and classified staff (159 teachers at the K-8 level alone). All three schools you mentioned are in WCCUSD, and all district schools will be affected. Of the 3 schools, Madera is the highest-rated and offers the most enrichment activities (only behind Kensington out of all the schools in the district), funded by the PTA. Harding ranks below Madera in terms of school scores, with Fairmount below that. Hopefully, if Measure R passes, Fairmount will be remodeled soon, as it's overdue for a rebuild and not earthquake safe.
Here is some information from the Board Meeting: https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/SB_Meetings/ViewMeeting.aspx?S=360304...
Note from Superintendent Duffy: https://www.wccusd.net/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=1&ModuleInstanceID=21184&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=65075&PageID=1
I'm not saying you shouldn't move here, but you wouldn't want to be surprised about the big changes coming to the district.
Unfornuantely, although you are "assigned" to a school based on your house location, there is still no guarantee that you will get into that school. You still have to apply to your neighborhood school in El Cerrito/Richmond, and schools fill up fast. Applicaiton dates need to be followed very carefully and getting in gets even trickier after K or mid-year. Be mindful about dates and know you will have to start the process about a year in advance. I also know that they are reducing class size and the number of children that enter EC schools starting next year, based on the crushing WCCUSD budget deficit. All that grim news being said, we are currently at Fairmont and like it so far. The teachers are amazing and the Afterschool program is fabulous. The PTA and parent culture is a work in process at Fairmont but moving in the right direction. Honestly all the the EC schools are great. I also hear wonderful things about Mira Vista (in Richmond). I think to have a worthwhile experience in general at any of the EC schools, parents need to be very involved and engaged and to advocate for your child(ren). Good luck!
They are all wonderfully diverse, excellent schools with great principals and great offerings. Welcome!
The first post says Fairmont is not earthquake safe, which is false. I don't know why they would say that. It is definitely not new construction, as we know well from our seven years there, but its facility problems do not include seismic. The way you phrase your question does not make your priorities clear with your educational needs. Each school has its pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. But people whose kids have not attended it are really not the best people to weigh in on a given school's merits.
Aside from that, I concur that overall if you are looking at buying now for K next year, you may want to carefully consider the impact of the school district budget - yes, layoff notices will be sent but we don't know how many will be rescinded. However there are obviously going to be classroom impacts in WCCUSD... and OUSD... and MDUSD... and beyond. We all need to advocate for equitable funding for public education in CA, and more than ever public school parents need to STEP UP to participate in their child's education.