Public schools Upper Rockridge

Hi all, My husband and I are looking to relocate from San Francisco to the east bay with our 2 year old in the coming year. We would like to move to a place where the schools are of great quality. We are not looking at Piedmont just yet but would prefer a public school in the Upper  Rockridge Area. Any advice as to the resources I can look at to learn more about the schools in that neighborhood? I understand that it’s a lottery system except for some area in upper Rockridge (?) where you are guaranteed an admission in the public school from K -8 or is my understanding wrong..? Any advice regarding navigating the school system is appreciated.  

Also, are there preschools that we should be thinking about that ‘feed’ into the recommended schools? I am presently a stay at home mom.  (Apologies if I’m using the incorrect terminology! We are transplants unfamiliar with the US schooling system.)

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Oakland uses a neighborhood school assignment system, so your school zone is based on your address. There is a lottery if you want to attend a school outside your neighborhood, and there are a few schools that are consistently oversubscribed where not all neighborhood students will be admitted. In Upper Rockridge, you're looking at Hillcrest, Kaiser, and Chabot, depending on where in the neighborhood you want to live; all three have taken all neighborhood kids in recent years. (Peralta, which is the school for Lower Rockridge, often does not take all neighborhood kids.) All are great schools in my opinion, although Hillcrest and Chabot are considered stronger than Kaiser (and Kaiser may or may not move to North Oakland next year, at which point you'd likely be rezoned). Hillcrest goes through 8th grade, although you are not guaranteed a seat in middle school and must reapply (though current students get priority so most do get in). There are not "feeder" preschools except inasmuch as people choose preschools near their homes--you will find kids from most of the Rockridge preschools moving on to most of the Rockridge elementary schools. Good luck with the move, and welcome to the East Bay!

There is no public school in Oakland with guaranteed admission. Most (not all) of Upper Rockridge is zoned for Hillcrest, a K-8 school. Students living in the attendance boundary for each neighborhood school get preferential status in the "lottery," which is actually much more complex than a lottery.  Please read the OUSD Options process and examine school neighborhood zoning boundaries at the links below.

https://www.ousd.org/enroll

http://ousd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=7382befde1724e7f87655227dd1f9520&extent=-122.3918,37.7250,-122.0622,37.8701

We live in Upper Rockridge and the schools here are very good, but far from perfect - our child attends Hillcrest, a K-8 public school. We're happy and we love the community but the academics in OUSD generally aren't stellar. That said, there are quite a few good "hills" schools and some good OUSD public schools not in the hills. The elementary schools in Montclair are also good. Note that Hillcrest is the only K-8 in OUSD and if you're at any other elementary (K-5) school in this area your child will be going to Claremont MS or Edna Brewer MS. That seems a long way off for a 2 year old, but I assure you it'll happen sooner than you imagine! 

Many people end up sending their kids to private schools for MS (at a cost of about $30k/year) and many more send their kids to private schools for HS ($20-$40k/year)  if they don't love or get into Oakland Tech (by far the best public HS in Oak). I just mention that so you understand that a straight 13 year run in public schools is not necessarily what you'll end up choosing if you land here. Many people opt out as kids get older.

If you can afford Piedmont, the public schools are arguably a bit better and a bit safer if you want your kids' entire education to be public. We have 1 child so we can afford some private schooling, but if we'd had 2-3, Piedmont would probably have been a better decision.

There is a semi lottery. You get zoned for a particular neighborhood school - you can figure out the school before you buy your home - and it's likely but NOT guaranteed you'll get in. It is also NOT easy to get into a school that you're not zoned for. Hillcrest in particular is notorious for not having enough space for every child in the hood - we were waitlisted after we bought our home. We were lucky and my son got in (1 day before school started in K), but some people have to wait a few years and attend Chabot or somewhere first (a very good school). And you have to reapply to the Hillcrest MS - about 1/3 of the Hillcrest 5th grade class doesnt get into the MS, which is super tiny. So they go to Claremont or private. It's nerve wracking.

There are no preschools that feed into any public school. But I'll give a shout out to Blue Skies - an awesome preschool. Also Duck's Nest.

We love Upper Rockridge and feel lucky to be here, and we love our school, but there are other good options all around the hills and in a couple of other areas.

All of Oakland is a lottery system but you have a higher chance of getting into your neighborhood school. Siblings of current students get offered first and then the neighborhood kids get offered and then if there are any openings left, the out-of-cachment kids get selected in the lottery to attend. The neighborhood that is zoned for Hillcrest may be what you are referring to as Upper Rockridge. The rest of Rockridge (upper and lower) is zoned for Chabot, which is also a great school. There is no guarantee that you will get into your neighborhood school. There seems to be a wave of families moving into a particular neighborhood for the schools. Many years ago, there was a year when not all Hillcrest zoned famlilies got into Hillcrest. This past year, some families zoned for Thronhill and Crocker Highlands didn't get in. Hillcrest is a wonderful school and it's the only high performing school in Oakland that goes from K through 8. Chabot is a larger school and all neighborhood kids get in. Hillcrest is a smaller school. Both are excellent. If you live in Rockridge, your child will go to one of these two elementary schools that are both excellent. However, if you are looking to buy and have the means to buy in Upper Rockridge, you might want to consider the possibility that you will want private school instead of OUSD. We send our kids to a well-rated OUSD elementary school, but we have been disappointed by the school system and regret that we bought a house in such an expensive area when we could have bought a larger house in a less expensive area and send our kids to private school.