Experience moving to Berkeley/Oakland School districts mid-summer
This is my first post because I am soon hoping to be a true "Berkeley" parent. We are looking to move to the East Bay this summer, with our child who will enter kindergarten in the Fall. Has anyone had experience moving to Berkeley mid-summer and figuring out school allocations? Do we risk not only lack of choice but also no spot in our immediate vicinity (which is TBD; looking for realtors too!)? Any tips/deadlines/school recs would be much appreciated.
Mar 3, 2023
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For BUSD, you don't really get to choose. You rank your schools in your zone and then it's a lottery. BUSD assigns schools in the spring, so you'll miss it. You just have to wait to move to Berkeley and then apply with your local address. If there's room in a school in your zone, they'll place you there. It's possible you'll get a school outside your zone, but BUSD buses kids who are at least a mile from the school. You can get on waiting lists, but they don't really move and most people just stick with what they've been assigned. That said, all Berkeley elementary schools are pretty equal due to this lottery system. I'm in the northwest zone and all 4 elementary schools are amazing. It gets a little dicey in middle school and the high school is one big zoo.
For Berkeley, school sign ups begin in January and there are I think monthly sign up dates. Just because you are living close to a school does not mean that you are in the correct zone for that school. You might want to check a zone map when you are looking at houses. I live a block and a half from a school that is outside of my zone. Berkeley has recently redone the zones and some people are not happy about it. I'm not sure how they are handling transfers in actuality, but they indicated that they would be pretty strict about it and offer buses instead.
Welcome to Berkeley! You will be able to enroll your child into BUSD only after you have officially moved and have a Berkeley address. You will not be in the first round of elementary school assignments, or perhaps even the second round. Even current residents in the first round don't necessarily get spots at their nearest school-- the district does not assign schools by proximity. You rank your choices within your elementary school zone, and they assign you wherever there is room. If you are really set on your nearest school, you can try putting your child on a waitlist if they get assigned elsewhere, but sometimes it is in the first couple weeks of school that the waitlist moves. All of the schools are good though. Best wishes!