Starting BUSD in Kindergarten or First Grade

What are the drawbacks or tradeoffs to enrolling in BUSD for Kindergarten vs first grade? 

We are in the great position of having a kindergarten option at our preschool. However, we are concerned that delaying enrollment in BUSD until first grade will reduce the likelihood of us getting into our neighborhood school or Sylvia-Mendez. 

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Delaying the enrollment will effectively eliminate the likelihood of getting into neighboring school. Unless you live less than 0.5 mi radius of the school for KG. For the first grade, the application starts much earlier, because it is a transfer, not admission. All slots in your favorite school may be already assigned and your child will likely get a slot in the school which has a slot available based on your child's gender, race, ethnicity, parents' education, and numerous other factors.

According to BUSD, skipping kindergarten, your child loses 1 year of learning...After the KG, kids are expected to read by themselves fairly well. If a child enters the first grade, the expectations are not lowered, just compressed...

I'm assuming that by "kindergarten option" you mean that it's an actual kindergarten class that happens to take place at the preschool. In that case, they're not really skipping kindergarten so much as transferring in from a private school. 

Elementary schools are assigned by lottery, so you may not get assigned to your closest school either way. I will say that for kindergarten, all 5-year-olds are being assigned at the same time, whereas for first grade, some schools will already have full cohorts. I knew a family who tried transferring in every year and kept getting assigned to a far school because that particular cohort happened to be small at that school but impacted at their nearby school. (They still are at private.) Also, I believe that Sylvia Mendez doesn't take transfers after kindergarten unless the child has been in an immersion school. 

We recently had the same decision to make, and chose to enroll in public k after getting our top choice elementary school. If you wait until first grade to transfer, the likelihood is much lower to get into your preferred school. if you truly don't care between the schools in your zone, than I would opt into the preschool kinder program because of the longer hours and resulting educational opportunity. I think BUSD elementary schools are all quite excellent, so you are in the position of choosing between two good options.