Navigating SF Private and Public Schools

My husband and I are considering moving into the city from the east bay, and we currently have a 1 and 3 year old.  From what I understand, it is very hard to get into a good public school, and it’s imperative to waitlist one’s child in private schools.  But I don’t know where to begin with my search for private schools.  My husband prefers our kids to go to a Spanish immersion school, but Google searches don’t uncover any private schools in the city (that are, for example, similar to EBI).  Does someone have a suggestion on where to start (my plan is to first find the school and then find the home near that area)? Is there a website with a list of all the private schools? 

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CAIS (California Association of Independent Schools) has a membership directory and could be a good place to start your search for private schools. I'm not sure if your timeline of finding a school and then finding a home will work, though. Usually, you apply for schools in the winter before the following school year and get acceptance notifications in the spring. That would leave you the summer to find a home in a hot market. And I'm not sure what's hotter...real estate or private school admissions!

While it’s not Private, WCCUSD has several Spanish Immersion schools. I would suggest Stewart in Pinole a sweet small K-8 … my daughter will be graduating from there this year. She has been there since K. Especially, since you are willing to move. You could purchase in Pinole a really nice community. Just a suggestion. 

I don’t know the answer to your question—I live in SF, and when we were looking for schools five years ago, we were overwhelmed and behind the ball. However, we were really lucky, despite our minimal preparation and applications, to get into a private school we love, Children’s Day School, right across the street from Mission Dolores—great community and good financial aid. If you want to chat about this school, or the search generally, you’re welcome to contact me. 

Hi, I haven't found a list of private schools in San Francisco, but I've bookmarked a post on Nextdoor that has the information that you may be looking for. From what I gathered, most are recommending private/Catholic schools. Since those are expensive, some are saying that it might be worth doing that when your child gets to middle school, and have them start on public school to save money. 

My children are both in public schools since they were in pre-K, and we didn't have luck in placement. Our #1 choice is a school 4 blocks away from us and we were placed in a school that was about 30mins drive away. But we put our son's name on the waitlist and he was lucky enough to get a spot at our #1 choice school, after having been in the original placement for 2 weeks. My kids are still in grade school, but soon enough I will worry about middle school, although the feeder school is good for where he is right now.

Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or if you want more details on the schools that were recommended on Nextdoor. I can probably compile them for you if you want!

SFUSD has a number of schools with Spanish Immersion (22 schools offering some sort of Spanish program: and they are changing the school assignment policy for students enrolling in 2024-2025 (this may include your older child depending on their birthday). It will create zones so families have better predictability of where their child will go to school - finally! I recommend signing up for their newsletter about this process so you can understand how it may affect you:

Also, like most public school systems, enrollment is down in SFUSD, so your chances of getting into a desired school are increased. And currently there are numerous rounds so you can try several times to get into a school that you prefer. Basically, don't rule out the public options.