About BUSD: How School Assignment Works
The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) assigns new K-8 students to schools based on the "zone" they live in. There are three zones in Berkeley -- roughly three parallel strips stretching from the hills to the bay. BUSD created these zones in order to balance schools socio-economically by including both affluent families (in the hills) and middle-class and working-class families (in the flat lands). In each zone, there are 3-5 elementary schools and one middle school. All students attend Berkeley High School. To find out which zone you live in, see the District Map on the BUSD website.
For elementary school (K-5) you may request your top three choices in your zone, but ultimately, BUSD decides which school you are assigned to, based on the census tract you live in (income, education level, etc.). Once assigned to a school, you may request to be wait-listed at a preferred school in your zone, but there is no guarantee. There is very little chance of attending a school outside your zone except in rare cases where your desired zone is under-enrolled. See parent discussions about this.
Out-of-district transfers: Many Berkeley schools are over-enrolled so officially, BUSD accepts few transfers from other school districts. Unofficially, it is said that as many as 12% of BUSD students are from outside the district.
See Also: Berkeley Unified School District webpage ... BUSD: Enrollment & School Choice