Experience with OUSD preschools?

I found out that my 3-year-old qualifies for preschool through OUSD and I'm trying to weigh some options. We are finishing up the IEP process and he's being offered half days at an OUSD preschool with some special education support. I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into the preschool programs that OUSD offers? Placement isn't guaranteed anywhere but it looks like our options include Acorn Woodland, Allendale, Arroyo Viejo, Centro Infantil, Emerson, Highland, and United Nation CDC. Does anyone have experience with any of these? I'm mostly wondering how much is play-based vs. academic and what the school day looks like at this age.

He currently attends a Montessori preschool full time, so my options are to fully transfer him to OUSD (and pay tuition to extend to a full day), stay at his current preschool in the mornings and OUSD preschool for the afternoon, or decline OUSD and stay where he is. He's been at his current preschool since 18 months and he really loves it there, so I don't want to pull him out completely unless it's absolutely in his best interest. The smaller group time he'd get at OUSD could be huge for him, but I'm thinking that a morning of independent Montessori work followed by an afternoon of academics is too much so that's what I want to avoid.

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If you have the option to go to Burbank Preschool Center I would choose that site. My son also has an IEP and they selected that school for us. He had an awesome experience with the 2 teachers who I know one is no longer teaching. The school is mostly SDC with some inclusive classes so I believe all the teachers have experience with kids with special needs, something general ed teachers usually don’t have. We trialed Laurel Preschool  to prepare my son for his kindergarten inclusion class and the teacher did not have the skills to appropriately teach my son with high functioning autism and sensory processing disorder. 

My son thrived at Burbank. They did play based and academics, art, and at recess there’s a large newer playground with tricycles. He attended 2017-2019 so not sure what its like now. While the teachers and most paras were amazing, there were a few that weren’t, but that can be any school. There wasn’t much of a community as most parents would drop off their kids and pick up without talking to one another. The school is a majority of minority and non English families which is great (we are minorities as well), but also contributed to the lack of community since many spoke other languages. No events for the school community that I can remember and no field trips which mostly had to do with the lack of budget.

Lastly, the school is off 64th/65th Ave so be aware of what that neighborhood is like. Parking off 64th Ave is tight but was cleaner than 65th. Depending on what part of Oakland you’re from it may or may not be what you’re used to, but despite the location I felt that the experience my son received at the school was well worth it. Burbank is the only OUSD school I would recommend. He had an awful experience at Joaquin Miller which was predominantly non minorities, in the hills, and one of the better funded schools in OUSD. I pulled him out in 2nd grade and wish I did it sooner.

One thing to note, is that OUSD is closing the special ed - inclusion and sdc classes at many elementary schools right now including Joaquin Miller in which the parents and teachers are trying to keep them open especially since they were given very little notice.

To be honest, with the exception of Burbank, skip OUSD all together and consider homeschooling. Its the best decision I’ve made and my son is getting the academics and extracurricular support OUSD would never be able to provide.