Moving to Berkeley

Hi,

Our family is moving to Berkeley from Seattle... we have a flexible timeline, but likely before the 2021-22 school year. Just from on-line research we are looking in the Albany, Berkeley, Alameda neighborhoods (we will be making a family visit in May). We have 2 kids (entering 1st grade and 3rd grade). Our older kiddo is in an advanced program in Seattle public schools (2 grades ahead in math and reading) and our little one is at a neighborhood school learning at her grade-level. We would love to be in a neighborhood school that could support both our kids. We are open to any neighborhood in the East Bay. Any recommendations for specific schools (I know Berkeley is a lottery system) and/or neighborhoods would be appreciated so we can check them out during our visit in May. 

Thanks so much,

Family in Seattle

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RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

If you can afford it, I recommend Piedmont. If you are willing to be on the other side of the tunnel, Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette would be better. If you need to stay in the three areas you mentioned, Alameda would be better than Albany or Berkeley for the advanced learner. For the grade level learner, all three areas you mentioned would be good. But, you are not guaranteed to attend school that is closest to you in Berkeley and the class size has been very big in Albany due to its popularity. 

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

Consider El Cerrito! Great, diverse schools and no lottery. Just next-door to Albany/Berkeley. Great community feel, lots of parks, hiking trails, etc. I'm not familiar with any public school sin the general area with advanced programs at a young age so you may need to supplement that. Kensington may be another good option (the elementary school is highly rated but you lose some diversity compared to Berkeley/El Cerrito)

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

We moved from Seattle to Berkeley three years ago and couldn't be happier. Our kids are also advanced and unfortunately unlike the Seattle area, the schools here don't have gifted programs. We ended up sending both our kids to private school. If private school doesn't work for you, you might want to look at Piedmont, Lafayette, Orinda or Moraga. They also don't have gifted programs, but they will probably be able to accommodate your kids better. 

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

Piedmont is wonderful in many ways but we do not have a gifted and talented program.  Unless you plan to skip grades he won't get any specific support for his advanced learning and you'll have to supplement on your own.  I haven't done much research on surrounding districts but my impression is that gifted and talented programs are out of vogue and fairly limited around here.

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

You might want to consider Orinda or Lafayette.

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

I recommend calling the school district offices to see how your older child will be accommodated for his advanced learning. I’ve personally found in BUSD (Berkeley), there do not seem to be any programs that support or nurture advanced learners. I believe it is to keep things “equal” and not give students special treatment. There is a big focus on bringing kids up to the standard level, and if your child is already there, then great - but they’re not challenged any further. GATE doesn’t exist in Berkeley. There is a private GATE school or private schools in Oakland that would probably be able to nurture his learning, but they are $$$.

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

For the advanced learner I would not recommend Berkeley with the exception of the high school. Especially if your advanced learner has a tendency to have behavioral problems when bored. I’m not sure about the other districts.

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

Thanks for all the suggestions. We'll make time to visit all the locations mentioned

To the Anonymous responder from Seattle- is there a way to connect about your experience moving to Berkeley? I would be interested to learn about what private schools you are enrolled in.

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

Hello, not to be a downer but based on what you have written here, I would recommend looking into an independent and more differentiated school for at least your older child. As others have mentioned you may also want to look into Orinda and Lafayette. Or plan to supplement after school with activities and determine ways to bring in your own materials for your child to complete if they are bored by their classroom work. I'm sorry to be negative, I just think you may be disappointed in the public schools in areas you mentioned that they simply cannot offer an advanced program and it also becomes a major equity issue.

RE: Moving to Berkeley ()

Places like Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek are definitely good options but the weather is on avg 15+ hotter on that side of the tunnel so AC becomes a must.  I've generally found that those areas also have less diversity compared to berkeley/albany.