Public TK or Private K? So confused.
Our daughter's birthday is Sept. 3, 2012. (2 days after the Sept. 1 cut-off) We live near Lake Merritt in Oakland and are zoned for Piedmont Avenue Elementary School (PAES) which has a transitional kindergarten program. The school seems to have low test scores and some of the older reviews seem to suggest there's been bullying and violence. The demographics of the school means that our 1/4 Asian and 3/4 white child will be a minority. The school is majority African American and close to 20% hispanic. She currently attends a wonderful play-based preschool. All of her friends from preschool will be attending K (mostly Chabot, Cleveland, Hillcrest, and Glenview or Park Day, St. Paul, Shu Ren, EBI, Aurora, Redwood Day). None of the parents plan to send their kid to PAES. I don't think we want to keep her at the same preschool for the 3rd year when all of her friends have graduated to elementary school. Her preschool does not have a TK or pre-K program.
We are torn about what to do.
1) Do we send her to PAES for just one year (TK) and then try to get her into a higher performing OUSD elementary school such as Peralta, Chabot, Crocker, Glenview, Kaiser, etc.? Obviously this will save us a lot of money but our kid will be literally the oldest kid in class and all of her current friends will be a grade above her. And we'll have to do the school search again next year.
2) Do we go for private school and enroll her in K, since many private school cutoff is Dec. 1? We're looking at spending $30,000 / year factoring in tuition and after school care. I guess once she has done K at private school, public school will have to accept her at a higher grade than she would have been if she started at public school. So, if we can't afford the cost for the long term, we could switch her to public school, although my wife is strongly against changing schools in mid-stream.
Of course, a lot depends on the child as well. Our daughter is very tall (90th percentile in height) and is socially and emotionally pretty mature. She is also very articulate and an excellent negotiator. She isn't academically brilliant or anything and we haven't been pushing the academics. She knows how to write her name and a few other letters, has known her alphabets for a long time, and can do basic math (2 + 2 = 4). She knows colors and shapes as well. Her self care skill is on par with her friends. (potty trained, dress/undress, albeit clumsily, etc.)
We'd love to hear from parents whose kids were the youngest or oldest in class and your take on the pros and cons and what you would do for the kid. Also we'd love to hear any recent experience on Piedmont Avenue Elementary School's TK program.