Moving to SF Area with 1st and 4th grader

We will be moving to San Francisco this summer with our two kids, who will be in 4th and 1st grade next year. We are still trying to determine if we can find a good-enough school in San Francisco, or if we'll prefer living in Berkeley or Alameda. 

How we can find out which schools in SF will have openings for those grades next year? If possible we would like to find a place to live close to the school our children will be attending. 

What happens if we're still in temporary housing at the start of the school year? Would the kids be able to go to school somewhere? Would they have to change schools if we move to a different district within the same city?

Any tips on school that aren't over-enrolled in SF? We are hoping to find a diverse school with small class sizes and a lot of parent involvement (at least that's what seems to help our current schools most). Our oldest is currently in a GATE class and we hope whichever school he ends up at will challenge and engage him.  Thanks for your help! 

Parent Replies

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For SF proper, the SFUSD Educational Placement Center (EPC) is who you need to call about school placements & availability. They can tell you which schools are more likely to have spots. But you won't be able to get a school placement until you have your SF address, so you can't plan ahead on living near your school. 

School placement in SFUSD is really tough. Diversity & small class sizes are there at every school. Academics & school quality varies tremendously. But the schools with more parent involvement are always the more "white/wealthy" schools, which correlates to high test scores & PTA fundraising too, and those are the schools that are hardest to get a place at. Especially to enroll two kids.

'Good enough' means different things to different people -- ask at EPC for 'hidden gems' where both of your kids can get a place, hope that it is 'good enough', and apply for a school transfer for the following school year if needed (lots of families switch).