How to Navigate BUSD Wait Lists

Hi everyone, we are new to Berkeley and could really use some advice/feedback based on any personal experience people have had. We are moving to Berkeley late (in June) to allow our daughter to finish kindergarten before we come. Unfortunately this will be her fourth school in four years once we're in Berkeley (day cares before kindergarten), and we really want to avoid having her switch schools again once we're there. Because of that, we're trying to understand if there's anything we can do to come off a wait list by the start of the school year (assuming we end up on one). There are two schools in our zone nearby our new house, and one that is quite a distance away. They're all good schools, but our daughter will feel much more comfortable being closer to home given the new environment. Any advice on the right people to talk to or the right things to think about would be very much appreciated!

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There is nothing you can do to come off the wait list except wait. I know it does move, but sometimes school is already a month in when you get a spot. I know several people who have gotten off the wait list (for Ruth Acty and King Middle), but each time, it was several weeks into school. 

If your nearest school is LESS than 0.5 miles from your home, you have a chance of getting into it. Otherwise, no way.

I have known many people, with infants, pleading to be transferred to a school walking distance. Some schools are on a steep incline with severe parking shortages and parents were citing dangers to strollers. They even found people willing to switch places in schools. The school authorities said NOOOO.

On the brighter side, all BUSD schools are great, no matter which one you get assigned into.

I just wanted to drop a quick message to say that (truly) all the BUSD elementary schools are great, and I don't want you to worry too much about it! Berkeley has elementary school DOWN (it's middle school where things get dicey, ha!) and while going to a school in your small/local neighborhood is great, Berkeley is not so big that even a school "quite a distance away" isn't really that far. I think you'll be happy wherever you end up! Best of luck and Welcome!! 

The wait lists move at different times. Our kindergartener was originally assigned to Oxford (our 3rd choice). When we received our assignment packet, there was information on how to add children to the waitlists at other schools. We asked to be added to the waitlists for Malcolm X and Washington (I believe all we had to do was send an email), and then we were offered a spot at Malcolm X a couple of months before the start of the school year, which we accepted since it's our neighborhood school. I don't think there's much you can do before you receive your initial assignment. 

As soon as you have a Berkeley address and the residency paperwork ready, apply for BUSD (even if you haven't officially moved yet). We did the regular process and regular waitlist application and got offered spots at 3 schools on the same day in early May. So we were able to get into our first choice, which still has space in our grade level, even at this point in the year. So there's hope for you! There's no people to talk to, just get the paperwork done ASAP and be patient. CA schools also do a 10 day count and after the 10th day of school, they know if there's additional spots open elsewhere and you could be offered to move then. Less than ideal because your kid actually has to attend their assigned school for those 10 days. Hopefully you'd get moved off the waitlist before school starts. My guess is lots of people don't want to be patient and just move to private if they don't get their first choice the first round.

Unfortunately there's nothing you can do. BUSD is extremely inflexible about this. I got my 4th choice of school, and never got off the wait list. Though others have amazing luck. Just get on the wait list as soon as you're able, as I do think there is an order on the list they follow.