Moving to Berkeley in December

Hello, we are moving to Berkeley from Baltimore MD in December 2016. I have a 7 year old son who is in private school. We heard that Berkeley public schools are excellent. Our plan is to send him to a public school. I understand that we will be assigned to a school. I did read some of the posts about schools and did not understand about the school zones that they talked about. We applied to UC Berkeley rental housing until we know where we want to buy a house. If we buy a house in two years in a different School Zone, does it mean that we have change Schools accordingly ??

Thank you very much.


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Please note that the rental housing University Village) is actually not in Berkeley. It's in Albany, the town next door, which has very good schools! Usually, you can stay in the same school. They will "rank order" existing students to get priority, though I suppose there iA a chance they could make you go to a different school. The lottery system in Berkeley is quite confusing. The city is split up into 3 zones, and you are assigned to a school based upon the highest education level in your household and your property tax (I'm not sure how it works equitably for people who rent). Proximity to a school is not taken into account in your school assignment. In Albany, you do go to the neighborhood school, however. If you look at housing prices in the East Bay, you will see where it is going to be feasible for you to buy a house in the future. If Albany looks like it's where you'd be able to afford to buy vs Berkeley, then you could start there as renters and then buy in the district. It is possible to do inter-district transfers, but that is a very volatile topic in Berkeley due to the burden of enrollment fraud. Good luck!

The Berkeley Unified School District's website has some helpful information about the school attendance zones.  Take a look at these pages specifically:


As far as moving within Berkeley, I believe (but am not sure) that you can stay at your original assigned school even if you end up moving to a different zone.  I suggest that you call the Admissions office at 510-644-6504 to confirm that fact.  On a related note, some of the UC Berkeley rental housing for families (University Village) is actually located in Albany. The public schools in Albany are also excellent, but you should confirm what city you will be living in before you invest too much time learning about the Berkeley public school assignment system.

As far as I understand, no you would not have to change your school unless you WANT to (unhappy with the school for some reason). What they will not do is offer you free bussing to the school if your new home is outside the school's zone.