How School Assignment Works in OUSD
How It Works in a Nutshell:
Priority is given to students who live within the neighborhood boundary for the school. See the OUSD Map to find out what your neighborhood school is. OUSD families may request schools outside their neighborhood boundary, and the process for doing this is explained on the OUSD Website (see BPN advice about this.) The most popular schools may not accept students from other neighborhoods and in some cases may even divert students in the neighborhood to other schools. Charter schools are also popular in Oakland, and these have a separate application process - see http://www.ousdcharters.net/ for info about charter schools. A useful source for news about the OUSD is reporter Katy Murphy's blog on Oakland schools.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Moving to Oakland: Zillow's school boundaries differ from OUSD's
- Worried we might not get into our neighborhood school
- Our zone has 2 different schools, Peralta & Sankofa
- Foster parenting, finding a school mid-year
- Odds in the Oakland Options Process
- Are we guaranteed one of our 6 choices?
- How does the lottery work for middle school & high school?
- Confused about how the Oakland school lottery works
- How do I find which school for which neighborhood?
- Moving within Oakland after kindergarten
- How to get into Thornhill or Montclair Elementary?
- Moving within Oakland - required to switch schools?
- Getting into Oakland High Schools
- OUSD Enrollment Policy Changes/Megaboundary
- OUSD districting and cut-off date changes?
- We live in Montclair - which school?
- OUSD: do neighborhood siblings have priority?
- How does Oakland public school assignment work?
- Current OUSD Open Enrollment Policy?
- Considering a move from SF - is Oakland school assignment more certain?
- We live in the Chabot district - worried we may not get in
- Do I have any legal right to enroll in the school that is in my neighborhood?
- My neighborhood school is full - don't I have priority over transfer students?
In researching the Peralta and other elementary school boundary areas, I've noticed that zillow is showing different boundaries from the ones available via the OUSD site. I've also noticed that the pdf on the OUSD site is inconsistent with the ''map stacker'' maps that generate when you enter an address.
- Zillow show the Peralta boundary to extend all the way to Dover on the west while stopping at 59th St on the South. OUSD shows the southern boundary going all the way to Highway 24.
- Zillow shows Cleveland Elemenary boundary as never going west of Lakeshore Ave while OUSD shows it going as far west as Grand and north to the edge of Piedmont.
Which of these sources is the most accurate and up to date? I have also read some comments on this site from the past year that reference new boundaries being in the works, but have no idea if already implemented.
Any insight is appreciated. We are in the process of moving into Oakland and our preschooler's elementary boundary is one of our primary means of targeting a place to live. steve
Trust the OUSD website, of course. Sarah
Sorry you're encountering this frustration! Zillow's maps are wrong, and have been for some time--they are still using the pre-2012 maps that do not reflect school closures and realignment of some boundaries (including Peralta's). I've actually emailed them about this several times but apparently it is not a priority for them. This is also why some homes show up on Zillow as having no assigned elementary school--every Oakland address does indeed have a school assigned, but since Zillow removed the closed schools but did not update the boundaries, it gets pretty confusing. You can get the official maps on OUSD's website: http://mapstacker.ousd.k12.ca.us/. All boundary changes have been implemented at this point, and no new changes are planned in the near term (though of course things could change). Always doublecheck the school zone by putting the address into the OUSD site, since that is what the District goes by in assigning schools. Redfin also has the correct boundaries. Good luck, and welcome to Oakland! Another OUSD parent
In regards to the boundaries for Peralta school, I would assume the OUSD site is more accurate than zillow. However, the reason I am responding is to let you know that residence within the neighborhood boundaries is by no means a guarantee that your child will attend your school of choice. In reducing class size (definitely a good thing for the students), some well-regarded schools are not able to serve as many families. I know of multiple parents of would-be peralta kindergarteners in the neighborhood who did not get in for the 2015-16 year. Just a heads up. Megan
Hi, I would email, and call, the district AND the school, to be sure. The district went through a round of school closings 1-2 yrs ago and not all changes may have propagated correctly. Also, I've noticed that the school district's site can be out of date -budget cuts, presumably- always check that page's revision date. OUSD parent
hello, I am relatively new to the area and am facing the kindergarten enrollment process for my daughter. i know that my neighborhood school is a very competitive one, and i am trying to weigh the pros and cons of various K-5+ in our area. knowing that we might very well have preference for our most local school is great, but given its competitiveness, theres no guarantees. I'm wondering two things: if i shop around and put another school at the top of our OUSD list will we lose that advantage of being close by to an apparently great school but not our first choice in a perfect world, and also, i would love feedback about one particular school, Emerson elementary in Oakland, which i am so drawn to but seems to have super low ratings on test-based rating sites. we are also pretty in love with Kaiser, but it feels like maybe a long shot due to its desirability. We feel strongly that diversity (for real diversity), art-leaning curriculum, and community are far more important than testing scores, but im new at this game and would love some feedback. thanks so much in advance! Rebecca
If you're in the neighborhood, you'll very likely get into that school. There's only been a few instances in the past ten years where a school was oversubscribed: Hillcrest about 5 years ago, Redwood Heights about 6 years ago, and Crocker two years ago (though they added a fourth kindergarten class to solve that issue, and have since redrawn the boundaries). So I wouldn't put another school above your great neighborhood school unless you really prefer it. You'll probably still get your neighborhood school, in which case you could appeal for your first choice, which you'd probably get if someone else wants your neighborhood school (which it sounds like they would).
I don't know much about Emerson, but I would assume you'd have no trouble getting in there. Kaiser would be more of a gamble, but most kids there come from out of neighborhood so you'd have as much of a chance as anyone.
If you're looking for true diversity, community, and an arts-integrated curriculum, I suggest you look at Glenview Elementary (where my son goes). It's the most diverse school in the district, there's a strong focus on the arts, and the community is tight-knit, caring and down-to-earth. The principal is amazing and the kids are thriving. We couldn't be happier. If you haven't checked it out, we're having another tour on 1/12. Sign up at http://www.glenviewelementary.org/school-tours.html
I'm an Emerson parent, and am the one who leads the school tours so maybe I've met you. My daughter and our family are very happy at Emerson, love the teachers, the principal, and the community. I'm happy to answer specific questions if you want more info on Emerson.
In terms of school choice and the OUSD paperwork, my advice is to put your favorite school at the top. Last year was a low enrollment year and I think more people got their top choices. The enrollment office has demographic studies by year and maybe able to tell you if they expect to be over-subscribed at a particular school. Kia
Happy New Year!
I would take the spot at the seemingly great local school, and here's why: it probably is great. AND it's in your neighborhood which is huge. It's easy to get to for your regular school day, and easy to get to for PTA meetings and other school events on nights and weekends. Your child's new friends will be in the neighborhood also and that is plain awesome (I speak from experience). My kids walk by themselves to their friends' houses. Carpooling to soccer and birthday parties is super-easy because there are at least five other neighbor families going to the same place. You will be simplifying your life by choosing your neighborhood school (and lucky you, that it's a good one).
in love with our Oakland neighborhood school
Hi all: We are trying to figure out what oakland elementary school we are in and I am confused by the boundary map on the OUSD website. http://mapstacker.ousd.k12.ca.us/HardCopy/esboundaries.pdf
According to this map, we are in the Sankofa/Peralta area. But how do we know if we are in Sankofa or Peralta?? Is it lottery based? I could not find this information on the OUSD website for the life of me. I also tried calling the office, but no one has called me back yet. Can parents in the know please clue us in? -thanks so much! confused
As I understand it, Peralta and Sankofa share a catchment area and so you get to choose between the two schools. Good luck navigating OUSD--there are some truly exceptional schools and several disasters. OUSD mom
I think you'll get other answers, but in case you don't --
Peralta and Sankofa share the same school zone. If you live in the zone, you have missed the original registration period. You need to go down in person to OUSD and say you've moved into the zone (that's what it sounded like from your post) and need to register for Peralta. Peralta is heavily subscribed, but there's a mechanism to deal with kids who move into the zone after registration. I've been told by low-income and minority parents that the district tried to steer them to Sankofa. Go to both schools and check them out.
Have you read the the recent articles around the anniversary of the Brown v Board of Ed decision on the re-segregation of schools? Peralta and Sankofa are the epitome of that. Only 30% (old number) of the Sankofa students are from the zone, but if those students went to Peralta, it would completely change the racial and economic demographics of the school. I'm not bashing Sankofa -- my impression is they're doing a good, but difficult, job. Their students are overwhelmingly free/reduced lunch (they don't even have to do the paperwork, so it's assumed at least 80% but probably more). I do whatever I can to support the school.
Peralta recently lost Title 1 designation, because there are so few low-income kids. Having parents with resources translates into resources for the school, both through fundraising, volunteers, and direct donations. Given the level of funding in CA, that's what it takes to build a very sweet school with extracurriculars, all kinds of support, playground supervision, great aftercare, and an administration that really supports its teachers.
I've had two kids at Peralta and I believe that there is nowhere else we would have had such a good elementary experience. I do, however, find it shocking that these two schools exist in the same zone and the school board and district enabled it. It is the epitome of the segregation of public education in the US. Anne
Just to be very clear, the Sankofa and Peralta zones overlap only for a small area--not for the entire zones. I presume you live in this area, and that's why you're seeing a map for two schools show up when you enter your address into the OUSD School-Finder. This overlap is a legacy of Washington Elementary's closure and subsequent reopening as Sankofa. As one responder said, if you live in this area (a little square between Racine and Dover), you have priority at either school. However, most people are zoned to either Sankofa or to Peralta--not to both. The schools do not have the same zone. (OUSD School-Finder can tell you which school(s) you are zoned to if you enter your address.)
My husband and I are in the foster-adopt process and concerned about how we find a school mid-year if we are fortunate enough to match with a child. Presently, we are limiting our search to children before school age, but we are considering adopting a slightly older child.
Our neighborhood school in Oakland was closed in the last round of school cuts. It was probably not a school we would have chosen for our child. The lottery and choice system has been daunting for people we know with children and for us we add in the factor of not really knowing when we will need to get a child in school. Frankly, we would prefer some schools to others, but are pretty sure we would have real trouble getting into one of them.
We are now considering moving to a school district where the system is a little easier to negotiate and where we feel we would have a better chance at being in a neighborhood school that has what we are looking for (arts engagement, relatively stable teaching force, active parent community, etc.).
I'm wondering if others have faced such a challenge or if anyone has advice based on navigating the various school systems mid year. Hopeful Concerned Dads
Hi There, I'm not a parent who's adopted a child but I'm a parent within OUSD. I'd call the school district's student assignment office & ask where students from your neighborhood are now being funneled since the school there has closed. It may be that a better school is an option from where you are now.
If it doesn't look good, then I strongly recommend that you consider moving to a better neighborhood for your new child's schooling. Our neighborhood school isn't good & we had a hard time getting into a better school. The district is currently trying to improve that process but realistically there are too many students and not enough good schools.
I would also consider that your new child may need services if he/she has been in foster care...totally not knowing this process so I can only guess that there may be emotional / behavioral needs and if that be the case then that should factor into your choice. Does the potential new neighborhood's school have services at the site? (They're all supposed to by law but many do not.) Or will the school accommodate such needs even if they don't have special programs there? Again, each student is supposed to have his/her needs met at their own neighborhood school, but it's not always the case w/ Oakland. I've never heard of a child not being able to enroll in a school mid-year, but I would verify that w/ the student assignment office as well as any potential new schools.
School sites are open in the summer for administrative purposes & usually there is at least a couple of staff members there to answer the phone or the door, in the morning hours. Group tours usually happen in the fall/winter for elementary schools. anon
I adopted my two boys (6 and 10) through the Alameda fost/adopt program. Since both of my sons were placed with me prior to elementary school, I didn't have your problem (but finding child care was difficult not knowing the age prior to placement). However, I used the OUSD lottery and appeal process to get the public school I wanted. It is tricky and a bit unnerving, but I encourage you to ask for the school you want and keep appealing. Every year at our school there are kids who transfer in mid-year. It is possible. I will make an assumption based on your signature ''Hopeful Concerned Dads'' that you are a two dad family. Our school, Kaiser Elementary, is a very welcoming school across all levels of diversity and inclusion; one parent, two same-sex parents, adoptive families, mixed race families, grandparents raising kids, family income levels, etc. Families come to Kaiser from all across Oakland. We are a small community minded school with great parent involvement. I encourage you to tour the school and speak to the principal, who is great! If you want, you can contact me off line to discuss more. Valerie
Really, you're going to have to play it by ear a little bit. The specifics of the situation will end up determining things -- for example, maybe they're already in a local school and if there's no security issue (eg. parents deported as happens way too often these days), you may want to keep them in their existing school, at least for the remainder of the school year.
If they're pre-school age, you can see about getting them in at Headstart -- you may have to check around (I don't have the impression that there's a lot of coordination between programs) to see about vacancies or waiting lists (foster kids are usually at the head of the line, due to a points system that they score well on). Assuming the federal sequestration isn't still decimating them when you need them.
If they're school age and you have to move them, you're likely to have to engage with OUSD. I have found that working the system (telling them a compelling story and additional facts like that you're going to move to this neighborhood, meeting the principal, talking to multiple people on different days, etc) can help. Here's the thing -- in the middle of the school year, you may find an unexpected opening at a school you like. There are some good schools out there, or in neighborhoods that you're thinking of moving to.
I never got much help from our social workers, so keep looking for resources on your own. Good luck!!
Does anyone have any success stories about the Oakland Options process? All I hear are stressful doomsday ''good luck getting in THERE'' when I tell people our top school is Crocker Highlands. We do live in a Program Improvement neighborhood, but I know it's a long shot. Any thoughts or advice in the process? I know the basics....appeal and be persistent. But I'm looking for some real life stories. Thank you! Stressed about Kindergarten Process
Yes your odds are good! I know lots of people who are in program improvementschool zones and opted into better school. I even know people from non-PI zones who got their top choice. (Someone in thornhill zone who got into Montclair!). The key I hear is to go thru the first round and then if you don't get your choice do an appeal. Write a persuasive letter to placement office that explains why your choice school would be better for your child. And if you are willing to wait often spots open up the first week of school. be persistent. . Good luck! Anon
Yes and no. Yes, we absolutely know people who've gotten into high-performing OUSD schools, even from non-PI neighborhoods--but most of them got in either during the appeals process or late in the summer. Most of those schools are at or over capacity, so neighborhood kids and siblings are on the list before you are, even with PI status. However, I know several people (PI and non-PI) who've optioned into the schools just below the radar through the standard options process--so I would certainly consider those, too. The issue with Crocker specifically is that it is currently very oversubscribed as a result of a boundary change last year. They are in the process of correcting this, but the new boundaries aren't approved yet. Even with the new boundaries, the catchment area is growing over the pre-2011 area, so there won't be much room this year or in the coming years for non-neighborhood, non-sibling students. When you visit schools, you can ask for information about how many K students in this year's class are neighborhood or sibling; that can help you figure out which schools you are most likely to get into through options or appeals. If you're willing to wait through the summer (or even into the first weeks of the school year) you can sometimes get a spot if there are no-shows, too. Good luck! Another Oakland mama
Our son will be entering Kindergarten Fall of 2013. I've read through the information on the OUSD website and have one remaining question. We are supposed to choose six schools. Are we guaranteed placement in one of those six schools? If not, then what happens? I welcome any insight into the Options process, even that not addressing my specific question. Also, our neighborhood school is an API improvement school and also wouldn't be one of my top six choices. Lisa
Unfortunately, no, you aren't guaranteed that you will be assigned to any of your top six choices. However, since your neighborhood school is program improvement, you have a much better chance than others. If you aren't assigned a school that you want, you can go through the appeals process. Also, OUSD usually holds a session to explain the options process, so keep checking back on the website to find out the date. We went through the options process this past year, and my child got into our first choice school. There is hope!
Hi BPN, I'm afraid I might sound very unaware, but I can't seem to find any info on how the OUSD lottery works past elementary school. Once you're in an elementary school, are you prioritized for its ''feeder'' middle and high school? Or, do you have to do the lottery all over again? How hard is it to move into non-neighborhood middle and high schools? Confused about the lottery
No, if your elementary school is not your neighborhood school, you do not automatically get routed to your school's middle school (I'm sure that sounds a bit confusing). Middle and high schools are also assigned by neighborhood, but the truth is, they are not oversubscribed like some of the OUSD elementaries are, so your chances of going to a non-neighborhood middle or high school is good. I have NEVER heard of a child not getting their first choice middle or high school in OUSD (though that doesn't mean it can't happen). OUSD mom
Hello: Am a new member of Berkeley Parents in anticipation of a move to the East Bay in July. I am sorry if this question seems obvious, but just can't seem to figure out an answer. Is the school district in Oakland lottery within a zone, or pure lottery? My oldest son will enter K in the fall, and we won't have an Oakland address until July. If we move to a neighborhood with good schools, are we guaranteed a spot in a school IN THE ZONE, but not necessarily the one closest to us? (Eg, if we moved to Rockridge, we could end up in Chabot or Hillcrest, but not necessarily the one closest to us?) Or is it that we'd be potentially given a spot anywhere in the district? (Eg, we move to Rockridge and end up in a school 30 minutes away). Again, apologies if this has been discussed before - I've scoured the boards and just haven't found the answer. Appreciate any help! Thanks, Amanda
Just to confuse you further--it's neither! Schools in Oakland are neighborhood-based, which means that for most schools, if you live in the zone, you go to the school. (One school per zone, generally.) The maps for each school are on the OUSD website. There are a few exceptions (like Hillcrest) where schools are oversubscribed, so then you may get redirected to a designated second school if there's no room. You only go into the lottery if you do not want to attend your neighborhood school. BUT a big exception to this is if you enter the enrollment process late, as it sounds like you will. School assignments for next fall are already made, so children entering late are assigned whatever spots are left. However, you will get preference on the waiting list for your neighborhood school if a spot opens up (which is sometimes not until after school starts--there are usually no-shows). The sooner you get your address and get your son on the list, the better. Good luck, and welcome to Oakland! Another Oakland parent
Call OUSD and ask them. People with children move all times of the year and face the same situation. Ellen
There are no ''zones'' in Oakland. You're either in your neighborhood school, or you're not. There are a lot of great elementary schools in Oakland, so even if you don't get a coveted spot at your neighborhood school, you might end up at some other excellent school. BUT, it's a little bit risky, the way you're doing it. Kids already have their school assignments for fall and even though there are many good schools, they are probably all filled up. I'm sure there are others on this list who can give you a list of good elementary schools that are likely to have a kindy spot available, but there are many schools where that is highly unlikely (Chabot, Peralta, Crocker, Thornhill, etc.). It would take some luck to get a spot at one of these schools in July, though it's not impossible. It might be worth calling individual schools to get a sense of the likelihood of getting in. I hope I haven't confused you more...but navigating OUSD can be tricky. Weary OUSD mom
We're starting to look at buying a house, which means we need to think about schools. Our son is only 10 months old, so he won't be going to school for a while, but I know we need to think ahead on this one. However, when I went to the OUSD website, I couldn't find anything that helped me match a neighborhood with a school. How do we figure that out? Confused
There are school boundary maps here: http://mapstacker.ousd.k12.ca.us/welcome.htm Also, there is an Options pamphlet you should be able to pick up at any Oakland elementary school. It has write ups of every school and it also has a boundary map I believe. liz
Check out OUSD School Finder at http://mapstacker.ousd.k12.ca.us/ -- it's a little cumbersome to use but once you enter an address and get to the map PDFs, you can print off the ones in the neighborhoods you're interested in and just take them along while you're house hunting. (Note that the school boundaries near the five closing elementary schools--Lakeview, Lazear, Santa Fe, Maxwell Park, and Marshall--are changing, so you may need to wait for new maps if you're looking in those neighborhoods. They just approved the new boundaries last week.) Another Oaklander
Is it okay to move to a different neighborhood a few years after you've enrolled in an Oakland elementary school? My son will be attending kindergarten in 2013. We currently rent so we're planning on moving this summer to a rental in one of the better school districts.
However, we are hoping to buy a house in three to four years' time. If the house we purchase is not in the same school district, would we have to transfer our son out of third grade? For example, if we rent in Rockridge but later buy in Temescal, would he have to transfer from Crocker to Emerson? Or is it a case of once-you're-in, you're-in through fifth grade?
Also, I know siblings get first priority, but is that whether or not you're in the district? If we moved before my younger son entered kindergarten, would he still get priority for the school his older brother attends? Thanks so much! Adams Point Mama
Yes, OUSD policy allows children to stay at the same school even if the family moves. You also keep your sibling preference even if you're no longer in the school zone. So your plan sounds like a good one! Another Oakland parent
Once you're in a school you can stay there as long as you live anywhere in OUSD. For example, our friend rented in the Thornhill catchment to get into Thornhill kindergarten, then moved to a cheaper part of Oakland but her child stayed at Thornhill. anon
You should confirm this with the enrollment office in OUSD but my understanding is that you can stay at your school. I work in OUSD and as far as I know they only do address verification once. But call the school you hope to go to too to be sure.
Hi - So, not to worry. If I am understanding your question correctly, once you are in a school in OUSD, you don't have to transfer simply because you have moved. You CAN transfer - which is another story. Once you are enrolled in an OUSD school, you are in until 5th grade. Check with SAO if you are worried, but being a past OUSD employee and current educational consultant - that is my understanding. Best of luck,
Regarding Oakland schools, once you're in, you're in. You are free to move around Oakland but stay in whichever school you're enrolled in. Siblings, even non-neighborhood siblings, have priority over neighborhood kids. OUSD mom
Our son will start kindergarten in Fall 2011. We're renters and can relocate anywhere. We're very interested in having him attend either of the Montclair elementary schools - Thornhill or Montclair. I assume we need to live in one of those school districts to have him attend? Are there any exceptions to that? Is renting okay? Do you have to live there for any specific length of time beforehand? Should I meet with someone at the schools first? What other practical advice could help us? Thank you so much! sarah
It's great that you are portable!
With ANY Oakland public school, you must have an address and related identification (car registration, driver's license, electric bill, etc) to prove your residence before the application date. Renting is fine. The date for a 2011 start is likely in mid December 2010.
I suggest you visit the schools you are interested in and talk with parents and teachers. This school year ends in 12 days-so act fast if you want to see action this year (or visit schools then move in the fall).
Please note- occasionally a school will have more neighborhood kids applying then they have space. I know that Hillcrest, for one, has this problem. So make sure wherever you move, your kid has a guarantee of getting in! You can get a sense of capacity by talking with principals, parents, and the person who runs placement for the district.
We toured schools and moved to the Montclair boundaries just before application. We also considered Thornhill, JM, and Piedmont. We're very happy at Montclair. Kim
Our daughter is currently enrolled in the 2nd grade at Thornhill Elementary and we are very happy with her teachers and progress so far. We have the opportunity to buy a great house that, while still in Oakland and not very far away, is in a different elementary school district. Must we change our daughter's elementary school? I would hate to move her away from her friends and comfortable school envirnoment but also don't want to pass up this opportunity to own a home. Would love to hear from people who may have been in a similar situation. Conundrum
If you are still in OUSD, you can stay at Thornhill. Double check with Kathy in the office, who knows everything. But I know people who've started out in the Thornhill ''catchment'', who moved out of it, but still attend, because they don't make you switch. People move apartments all the time, can't be switching all the time. anon
No, you don't have to change schools. Once you're in, you're in, the school district doesn't require you to change schools because you moved, you just have the *option* to do so, if you want to. Anon
Hi There, You do not have to move your child to another elementary school. As long as you're still living in Oakland, once she's in, she's in. Last Spring, I registered my daughter in K at our then-neighborhood school, we moved during the summer to another school neighborhood, she began the year at the school where she registered. I updated the school w/our new address to ensure we'd receive mailings, records would be accurate, etc. no need to move though. Your next school move will be middle school- which will be based on your current Oakland neighborhood, not her current school. Moved homes not schools in Oakland
Our son is starting Kindergarden in the fall. Our lease will be up after he starts, and we'd like to consider buying a house. What happens if we move, within Oakland? Must our child switch schools? At the beginning of the next school year, would we face the interdistrict transfer lottery? Once a child is in a school, can he stay there until he graduates (so long as he lives in Oakland)? We haven't called the OUSD office because we have been told more than once not to trust information from the OUSD office. We like our current district school and wouldn't want him to be forced to move. What are the rules? We're not trying to game the system, but may likely buy in a less-desirable area. anon
We moved within Oakland when my daughter was in 1st grade and had no problem keeping her in the school where she'd gone for kindergarten. I think we discussed it with the principal before we enrolled her in the school to begin with, since we were renting at the time and didn't know how long we'd be staying, and I think that the principal told us that it wouldn't be a problem keeping her there if we moved as long as we stayed in Oakland. If I were you I would check with the principal of the school where your child is going to kindergarten.
I don't think you'll need to change schools. But, with the new ''Options'' plan (only for kids entering K & 5th) I might be wrong. You won't get incorrect information if you call OUSD and talk to Noah Bookman. (Or, sometimes it's even better to email him - his address is on the OUSD website.) Alison al forums. anonymous
Go to this website to find out your school. It is put out by the OUSD. http://mapstacker.ousd.k12.ca.us/ To find out what to do and what the process is, go to the OUSD site and click on PARENTS tab. There will be some tabs at the top, right under where it says PARENTS in blue. One says enrollment/assignment info and click on it. If gives you all your info. You will never get an info by calling them. No one there ever knows anything. The website is pretty good though. Karen
The Oakland school district has a map tool at http://mapstacker.ousd.k12.ca.us/welcome.htm that should help -- you can check any address in the City of Oakland to see its Elementary, Middle, or High School boundary, among other things. If you are in the boundary for the school you're applying to, you do not have to go through the lottery system UNLESS there are more kindergarten kids within the boundaries than there are slots for. This hasn't happened at Montclair or Thornhill yet, but it has happened at other Oakland elementary schools. Montclair Mom
We're going to be buying in Oakland, and want to understand the impact of various neighborhoods for education options down the road. Many things (including OUSD rules) could, of course, change in the next decade, but we'd like to understand where things are at right now. We will buy in the flats and will decide based on many factors - not just the schools. We are currently in Oakland Tech's area, which seems fine. How about Oakland High School? It appears that the high schools tend to have small-school academies -- how hard is it to get in, if you meet the academics, on a transfer? thanks for any insight. anon
I work at Envision Academy, a college prep charter high school in Downtown Oakland. I wanted to make a pitch for the many charters schools throughout Oakland that are providing students with a quality education. As you may know, charter schools are public schools, except that they handle their own finances and create their own curriculum. They are not exempt from state mandated test like the CAHSEE, etc. Lastly, the process of enrolling in these schools is not dependent on where you live. Schools like Envision Academy have great leadership and are doing great things. You can find out information on EA and other charters that doing good work at the California Charter School Association. anon
Dear Parents- I hope you can help. I want to get feedback on the proposed changes to OUSD enrollment policy for elementary schools. We're moving from Oakland to Boston this summer and hope to buy a house by fall. We used to live in Oakland & my husband worked for OUSD so we know its pitfalls. My question is whether or not the proposed changes (sibs first, megaboundaries for enrollment because of overcrowding) will actually effect the neighborhoods/schools. Will people move out if boundaries are expanded? Will home values dip? Will the schools change that much as a result? I know it's an emotional & political issue, but we're devestated to have settled on area that was challenging to begin w/in terms of enrollment (REdwood Heights) only to learn the policy might change drastically w/the new boundaries. Would it be a mistake to buy in such a neighborhood if the policy changed? Any answers welcome. E
There is a good discussion of these changes here: http://www.ibabuzz.com/education/2008/05/30/oakland-might-move-away-from-school-choice-model/
The Education Report is a blog where reporter Katy Murphy discusses Oakland schools in great detail. There are many active participants on the blog and it's a decent source of information and opinion on the current issues. crocker parent
I understand that OUSD in the process of making changes to the cut-off date for kindergarteners from December 1 to September 1. I have also heard that they will be adding a lottery system whereby people in neighborhood schools are not guaranteed their neighborhood school and it is a lottery system instead much like San Francisco Unified. A couple questions, one being when are these changes going to take place, and also, do I have the facts right? Could someone clarify? We are thinking of moving to a new Oakland neighborhood for the schools and I would hate to move and then find out that we can't even go to our neighborhood school. anon
Most of the schools with high API scores (over 900) in OUSD are full or are over capacity. I recently called OUSD about the waitlist policy and the waitlist supposedly ends 2 weeks after school begins this year. School in Oakland is slated to begin on August 25th. Call OUSD directly to verify policies and dates as they may change, 879-8200. You can also go directly to each school's website to find out further information about any re- districting that may affect you.
I heard the same rumor about OUSD cut off dates changing. I asked OUSD and they referred me around until I got this reply on May 1st. Hope this helps. ---
In the last few years or more, there has been a measure in the legislature to change the kindergarten age 5 date requirement (usually a phase in) from Dec. 1 to Sept. 1. However, there has generally been a conflict with folks that like it the way it is, the fact that compulsory education begins at age 6-18, and what to do about the kids that are not placed because of change-which generally means some sort of preschool placement which is always a cost issue. To answer your question directly, there is a bill- AB 683 authored by Sharon Runner that failed to get out of the Assembly Education Committee. See link below. Since this bill failed passage, there is no real threat of anything changing anytime soon.
Lupita Cortez Alcala Director, Legislative Affairs Office of Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction California Department of Education
future OUSD mom
We live in the Montclair District of Oakland and have a son who will attend elementary school in 2010. I need to figure out which elementary school our son is eligible to attend in Montclair (I assume it's based on our street address) and whether or not there is a lottery system or if we are guaranteed a spot by virtue of being Montclair residents. I would appreciate some guidance and advice. I tried to research the OUSD website but it wasn't very helpful. Chris
It is based on street address. Call the schools nearest to you, or call a real estate office. OUSD is in the process of changing the ways kids are assigned. Even now, you aren't guaranteed a spot in your neighborhood school, some have too many entering K students. Once you find out what school you are in, get in touch with the school parent association to find out more and how to get involved. OUSD has been holding information
A couple years ago I was told by an official at OUSD that neighborhood children who had a sibling currently enrolled at school would be admitted first, so we thought we'd be fine when it came time to enroll our second child. Now I've been hearing rumors that ''neighborhood siblings'' will be in the same pool as all other applicants from the neighborhood and may not be assigned to the same school at their older sibling. Has anyone else heard this or had this happen? Are you aware of any other school districts that don't prioritize siblings who live within the school boundaries?
Just want my kids to attend the same school!
No! I went to an OUSD meeting two weeks ago with the head of the schools and issues realted to the options program. (I can't remember his name.) He was very clear that neighborhood siblings do NOT get priority over regular neighborhood kids. The computer program that runs all kids who apply to each school picks neighborhood kids first, then, if spaces are available, chooses siblings, then moves to other groups of kids. You older one's little brother or sister has the same chance of getting into that school as any other neighborhood kid does. This OUSD man expressed his frustration that the same family could be sending different kids to different schools, but that is just the way it is. I have a child entering kindergarten in Redwood Heights in 2008. The numbers show that Redwood Heights will not be a problem this year. Next year, however, is going to be a problem. I have another little one who will be in school in 2010. I plan on pressuring OUSD to change their policy on siblings for 2010. I would imagine, if they change it at all, it might take that long!--but one never knows. Good luck! anon
Hi, I thought that one's child was eligible to go to a particular Oakland public school based on home address, but I see BPN members talk about Oakland public school assignments, options, and being turned down on application forms. Can someone explain how the system works? Thanks. Rose
Here is how Oakland works. Parents fill out the options form listing up to 6 schools in order of preference. If you like your neighborhood school, you would probably put that as the first one on the list. Oakland accepts those forms until close to the end of January and then proceeds to issue school assignments. The assignment priority is as follows:
1. Children who currently reside in the neigborhood boundary of the school and who have siblings currently attending the school are admitted first.
2. If space remains after the children in (1) are admitted, other children who currently reside in the neighborhood are admitted next.
3. If there is not enough space for the children in (2), there is a lottery system to pick the names of the kids in category (2) who will receive the remaining spaces. The rest of the children under (2) are assigned to schools based on how they filled out the options form. If the parents of those children did not select another school option, the child is assigned to a nearby school in Oakland Unified.
4. If there is still space after the neighborhood children are assigned, the school will accept next siblings of students currently at the school but who do not live in the neighborhood.
5. After that, children who do not have a sibling at the school and who do not live in the neighborhood would be accepted. Children whose neighborhood school is a program improvement school would then have priority over other children whose neighborhood school is not a program improvement school. If you fill out the options form, your child is not assigned to your first choice, and you reside in the neighborhood, you can be placed on a waiting list in case someone who was admitted moves or chooses another school option. Admissions occur right up until school starts or even later.
If this year is any indication, there are several schools in Oakland that will likely have too many children seeking to enroll in kindergarten based on the spaces available for 2008/2009. This year that happened, but because the district could have done better at communicating with parents that they are not guaranteed their neighborhood school, the District has made accommodations this year for folks that were confused and that appealed their child's assignment.
It would be prudent for 2008/2009 for people to list other Oakland public schools that would be acceptable in case your neighborhood has a large entering K class and to consider applying to private schools also.
The good news is that even when other public school assignments are needed, the kids are generally placed together at a very nearby school (usually closer than the nearby private schools) so there remains the neighborhood feel and the ability to have playdates with kids from your class in the neighborhood and there is also diversity and broader experiences available. So the best advice is to fill out the form, visit all the schools that are nearby your home and consider all of your options! anon
We are hoping to send our son to public elementary school next year. Does anyone have any current information on how open enrollment works? Is it hard to get into your school of choice? How soon do you have to apply? We are debating whether to move to another area with a better elementary school or to stay put and hope he gets into one of the schools we prefer. We were thinking of listing about 6-8 schools. Is there a good chance we will get one of them? Our local elementary is in the low 600s for API performance, and we are not very comfortable sending him there, but we want to send him to public school. Thanks.
As far as I know open enrollment applications had to be in at the end of January, with assignments being mailed in mid-march. If you do not want to attend your neighborhood school the best thing to do is call the placement specialist at OUSD. If you are okay with your local school go talk to the administator as they always hold spaces for late registration/late moves to the neighborhood. Just an aside - don't judge your school by the numbers. Go for a tour, meet the parents, etc... we have two children in the public schools in Oakland and have been very impressed and happy. Maggie
Open Enrollment ended in January. I'd contact the district to see what the next step for you would be. -Good luck.
We are thinking about moving from SF to Oakland in the next few years for the schools but are not sure about how the neighborhood school system works. If we move into a home that would be in the district for, e.g. Crocker Highlands, before the application deadline, are we guaranteed a spot as neighborhood residents? It wasn't clear from the OUSD website whether living in the neighborhood is more than just a priority ranking. Also, is it difficult for families in the ''more desirable'' school neighborhoods, like those funneling to Crocker, Joaquin Miller, Chabot, etc., to get their kids into their local school? Do neighbors living in the area by the application deadline ever (or routinely) lose places to applicants from other areas? One of the reasons we're thinking of moving from SF is to get away from the uncertainty of the SFUSD's assignment system and we'd hate to move into Oakland only to face the same. Thanks for any insight -- and any recommendations on elementary schools!
East Bay bound?
Yes, I know, that same OUSD ''explanation'' made me nervous too. But it seems that, at least for now, your kid gets priority in your neighborhood school, if you get your application in by the proper deadline. Of course, the hill schools tend to be full, so this doesn't guarantee you a spot. Please think at least somewhat carefully before you choose Oakland for the schools. Be sure the system there is one in which your child will do well. All of the schools are required to use the Open Court reading curriculum pretty religiously. Even in my school (one of the ''better'' ones), this results in what I consider an inordinate number of worksheets, homework, and assessments. My son, who is plenty smart but has writing difficulties, hates kindergarten halfway through (although he loved preschool, and loves his current teacher) -- he hates the work and it is too hard and too boring, at the same time! A kid who's better at both sitting still, and writing, would probably do a bit better. Karen
Information from my experience 2006-2007: You are not automatically enrolled in your neighborhood school: You need to choose it as one (your first one, I would guess, for the popular schools) of your choices in the school option period, although you have priority. If you don't already live in the district, I think they keep some spaces open for move-ins. YOu should call Noah Bookman in the OUSD assignment office, and he can give you all the details. It is a bit of a pain but not an impossible system. OUSD mom
Only a few Oakland schools get full with neighborhood kids. As of three years ago, these were only Hillcrest & Manzanita (elementary schools) and none of the middle or high schools. In all other schools, if you registered before the late-January deadline you are pretty much guaranteed a spot, although it does not say ''guaranteed'' on any paper since any school is limited to its capacity (but some schools do use the word ''guaranteed'' in the public forum). If you are in the right neighborhood and do paperwork on time, you have nothing to worry about.
In good schools there are good teachers. They teach great under Open Court or any other system, with lots of support from parents, and lots of school support (including individualized) for high-performing children, of which in good schools there are very many. maria
I have two quick comments on your question. First, someone else suggested you call Noah Bookman at OUSD. Unfortunately, he is no longer with OUSD. The current head of the school assignments office is Elizabeth Hensley.
Second -- if you're going to move to Oakland for the schools, you might want to read some BPN reviews on the middle and high schools here. Your child will not be in elementary school forever. Obviously, opinions on the grade 6-12 options here vary, but unless you're SURE you want to move again in 6 years, I think you ought to at least think about the schools beyond elementary. You may or may not find them acceptable, but I think it's worth at least thinking about. Good luck! Diane
Regarding elementary schools in Oakland, I wanted to mention that IF your address assigns you to a NON-program-improvement (PI) school, it is very difficult to transfer to an ''already excellent'' elementary school that is not in your Oakland neighborhood. If, on the other hand, you are assigned to a PI school -- and there are more than 20 elementary schools in Oakland that this applies to -- it is very possible to transfer to an ''already excellent'' school. Without getting into the merits of this direct effect of the No Child Left Behind legislation, as applied in the OUSD, it does mean that non-PI kids have very few schools available to them, outside their neighborhood school. (Of course, it also means that the PI schools lose a lot of neighborhood kids.)
One thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to go through the recent OUSD ''Options'' process -- results of this will be out in March -- and if you receive none of the choices that you requested, appeal and get your child on a waiting list at one of your school choices. Then, you have to wait it out, sometimes until August, or even the first week of school. People do this and it is risky but possible. (Note that for PI kids who don't get their choice of school, appealing the Options outcome is an excellent strategy -- the PI kids are put on a waitlist that is entirely separate from the non-PI kids' waitlist. In other words, the PI waitlist must be exhausted before any non-PI kids are taken.)
The other thing to do is to think about what would make you comfortable sending your child to your neighborhood school, even if it's not a ''10'', or even a ''7''. What if there were an active PTA, and several other neighborhood families that were open to sending their kids to the school? Or what if you don't feel comfortable with your immediate neighborhood school, but you've heard that there are some good things happening at another school close by -- would you consider sending your child there for kindergarten, knowing that you could try for a transfer again at 1st or 2nd grade if things didn't work out? If in March, PI or non-PI, you find yourself with a difficult decision to make, please consider Piedmont Avenue Elementary School. There is a new-ish, very active PTA doing some good fundraising; there are neighborhood families sending their kids to the school as well as lots of Oakland families who've transferred into the school because of some of the good things going on there; and the school's physical facility is excellent, unlike some OUSD schools -- no portables, well heated and maintained building, safe neighborhood, and lots of garden and playground improvement in the works. If you'd like to hear more about the school, or would like to follow its progress, please sign up for our Yahoo group -- send an e-mail to walktoschoolPANSA-subscribe [at] yahoogroups.com. Thanks for your interest, Philippa
We live in the Chabot School District. But from reading various posts, I'm beginning to get concerned that my daughter may not get in, regardless. Is it possible that she won't get in even if we live in the district?? Anon
Our daughter is currently a K student at Chabot; we live in the district. It is a fabulous school, and thus very popular for transfers. As long as you follow the new district guidelines for registering--most importantly, doing it early--you should be fine. Next year, from what I am told, there were 70 in-district kids who enrolled. That left only 10 spaces for transfers. Good luck! Elizabeth
Yes-- it is a possibility that you won't get into your neighborhood school. It happened to us this year, even though we registered when we were supposed to, along with everyone else. We've lived in our home for over 10 years, not that this has anything to do with the process. However, I do not think people are getting bumped from Chabot. Usually your child gets bumped to something somewhat close by. We weren't thrilled with what we were bumped to, although there is nothing seriously wrong with the alternative that was offered to us. We've decided to go elsewhere, after this experience with OUSD. ---anon
Is anyone else getting the feeling that Oakland Unified is quietly implementing a ''choice'' system similar to Berkeley and San Francisco? Although officially we have a ''neighborhood school policy'' the district has taken over the job of enrolling students, which used to happen at the school sites. I would be interested to hear other experiences.
I don't live in the Chabot district, but I live in an Oakland neighborhood with a very good elementary school. I have the same concerns that you do. The number of people (living within the neighborhood boundaries) applying to our local elementary school seems to have doubled in just a handful of years. Everywhere I turn in the neighborhood, new families are moving in and most of them want to send their children to the local school. My own theory is that private schools are less affordable with the rise in housing prices and mortgages. Unfortunately neighborhood schools aren't required to take neighborhood kids, although in the recent past this usually hasn't been a problem. With the current ''baby boomlet'' or trend to support good neighborhood schools, some neighborhood kids will probably not be offered spots at their local school. (It also doesn't help that there are those who cheat & lie to obtain spaces, depriving others of spots - you may have followed the recent thread about this issue). I would like to know what Oakland will be doing to accommodate neighborhood kids in the future
The OUSD ''options'' assignment process has been confusing and frustrating for me too, but I have found the Student Assignment Office to be pretty responsive to my questions. If you have questions or concerns about the process, the numbers & statistics, waiting lists etc. call the assignment office and talk to Noah Bookman or send him an email ((510) 879-8111; enroll[at]ousd.k12.ca.us). There are a lot of rumors and misconceptions floating around -- if you want to get to the bottom of it, contact the District
I recently decided to enroll my daughter in public kindergarten instead of continuing with her private school. When I called the school to inquire about registering, I was told that the school is full and that I should call Oakland Unified to get assigned to a school with space available. This is our neighborhood school, btw, not one we were hoping to transfer into. Has anyone else had this happen? What stategies did you use to get your child enrolled? Do I have any legal right to enroll in the school that is in my neighborhood? Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Just because you live in your OUSD public school neighborhood, you are still required to go through the standard registration process in order to enroll your kindergartner in your local school. This is true for everyone in the neighborhood, even those with siblings already attending the school. Good public schools in Oakland are in high demand, so the spaces that are not filled by neighborhood kids are quickly filled with transfer students. Meeting the registration deadline is the only way to guarantee your place in your neighborhood school, which must meet enrollment levels in order to receive full funding and continue the level of educational excellence. Residing in the district won't guarantee your place if you haven't gone through the process. People who move into the neighborhood during the school year face these issues all the time.
The first thing you should do is schedule a meeting with the principal to learn about the waiting list process. OUSD schools don't have an actual enrollment count until around the third week of the school year, so there usually are unanticipated openings. Sometimes people move away during the summer and don't notify the school; sometimes parents get accepted to private schools... there are a myriad of reasons that create last-minute openings.
Rather than pursuing any type of legal action, which may or may not get you the desired result (and likely leave a foul taste), you would be better off to work with the principal and show your willingness to be involved with the school and an active and positive member of the school community. Principals have more pull than one might think. I know of at least one case in our high-demand local school where the principal went out of the way to enroll a transfer kindergarten student simply because his parents were so enthusiastic about being part of the community and it was clear that their unabashed involvement (which was not, I might add, financial) would make a great addition to the school. As it turned out, there was an opening to accomodate him anyway, but the principal added him without knowing that because of the perserverance and enthusiasm of the parents. Also, be willing to have some flexibility to enroll in another Oakland public school in hopes that something will come up at your neighborhood school. Chances are better than one would think that even at the highest-demand public schools, there will be an opening at some point (even a few days before the school year). Yes, it can be frustrating and stressful for you and your child. However, I would be willing to bet good money that if you stay on top of things, are patient and work in partnership with the principal and can be flexible right up till the end, that you will be able to enroll your child at your neighborhood public school. Patience, pathos and perserverance will pay off. Knows whereof I speak
We have been looking into this issue of legal rights to enroll in your neighborhood school and as it turns out you do not have any legal rights to your neighborhood school. We have this issue in Pacifca, which is an all open enrollment system. Also look to the SF School district for other examples. The school districts are required to treat everyone equally and to of course provide a spot at A school, but not necisarily the school you want. If your child has some disability and it just so happens your neighborhood school is the only school in the district that can accomadate your child then you would have a legal basis to demand enrollment in that school. But other than that there is no legal basis to demand access to your local school. Joe G
I put my kids through my neighborhood elementary school, which is one of the more popular ones in Oakland. To my knowledge, neighborhood children are given priority to register through a certain date, which I believe is sometime in March. At that point the school opens the unreserved spaces to the out-of- neighborhood children on the wait list. If you decide, after the deadline, to put your child in the school, they put you on the wait list. You might go to the top, but they won't displace anyone already given a space, which certainly seems fair to me.
I know this is after the fact in your case, but,a word of caution to others: If you think there's even a slim chance you'll use your neighborhood school, register your child early. You can always call the school and tell them you won't be attending. The logistics of assembling classes is mind boggling. The schools have no choice but to set limits for the good of all children. OUSD parent
Our child attends a private Kindergarten. We recently moved into the district of a desirable elementary school. When I went to register my child for Fall, 2005 in first grade, I was told that there would only be space if one of the current Kindergarteners didn't attend first grade at the school. I've learned that as many as one-quarter of these Kindergarteners are inter- or intra-district transfers. As we live in the neighborhood, doesn't our child have the right to attend the school, even if it means displacing a current transfer student? Trying to get an official statement out of the superintendent's office is challenging. Is there a written policy? Any advice would be welcome! Thanks, confused
The OUSD is confusing and impenetrable. As a result of this, each school has it's own creative procedures. I recommend going to the principal or secretary of your local school and letting them know you are very interested in the school. (Don't be put off by busy or monosyllabic desk people, get all your questions asked.) They'll tell you that the window period for open enrollment is already over, which is true. BUT, each school saves a number of slots for last minute neighborhood enrollers. They have to let you in! I think you're entitled to sign up right at the school. Don't be intimidated by the desirable school thing, many families leave after kindergarten, desirable or not. You may have to also go downtown and enroll with the people there. The secretary at your school can tell you where that actual downtown person can be found, it seems to change every year. Volunteer at your school before you are enrolled, ask if there are any garden or pta tasks you can help with, attend a pta meeting, make yourself known & get a feel for the school at the same time. Good luck! You're welcome to contact me if you wish. Happy OUSD parent, Jenny