- Website for BUSD Preschools: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/schools/early-childhood-education/
Per the above website, there are three pre-school campuses in the Berkeley Unified system: Franklin (on 8th north of Cedar), King (near Derby and Milvia), and Hopkins (near Hopkins and Josephine).
Hi! Welcome back to Berkeley.
My son, who is now 7 and in BUSD elementary, attended one of the Berkeley Public Preschools (King CDC) for the two years prior to kindergarten. We had a good experience, and I often feel like I'm the BUSD preschool ambassador now. Here's some quick info, although calling the office at King CDC will give you a fuller picture.
Your child does have to be at least 3 yo and potty-trained. The program runs M-F 8:30-3:00, and there is before and after care available if needed. When my son first started there was a half-day program, but they may have eliminated it since then (worth checking). I am not sure that you can go fewer than 5 days a week. A bonus is that the program runs year-round, so if your work doesn't have two weeks off for winter break, no problem!
When I applied it was in the summer, and they had one spot open right then, but I delayed it until the start of the school year. We did qualify for full subsidy. My understanding is that some people of higher income qualified for partial-subsidy, and that you'd pay full price if you didn't income qualify at all. (It's worth calling to double-check that.) They start accepting applications in the summer for school-year start (when the ones going off to kindergarten leave), so I'd recommend calling now if you're interested. Your child does have to be 3, so they may have you submit your application once she has her birthday. You fill out an application and income form, and they let you know what kind of subsidy you qualify for. (They have a chart.)
The program is mixed-age, which I liked because my son got a chance to be a younger classmate and then an older kid, and he had continuity of classroom and teachers.
The BUSD preschool is definitely a public school and differs from small, private preschools. The advice I give to high-income people who can easily afford private preschool is to just go that route, because I find those parents have a certain aesthetic and expectations. One of the biggest strengths of my kid's preschool experience was the diversity of the student body as well as staff. He was friends with kids of many different backgrounds and had the opportunity to hear several different languages spoken by families. His teacher also taught ASL to all the kids.
Because the preschool is in the district, it was a pretty seamless transition to public elementary. During his second year at King CDC, they even had district admissions come to the school and help us work through the kindergarten application in person. When my son started kindergarten, getting him into aftercare was easy because he was considered a continuing student. Another bonus to being in the public system is that if a learning disability is discovered, there is in-class support, and the child can begin kindergarten with an IEP (or 504 etc) in place. I don't have direct experience with this, but I talked to parents who did.
Let me know if any other questions pop up!
Both of my children went to preschools of Berkeley USD. There are 3 of them (King, Franklin, Hopkins). They are both affordable, diverse, sensitive and attentive. Because they are part of the USD, they know and carry responsibility to prepare children for the Berkeley USD schools. Actually they are called CDC-childhood development center- for some legal reason...
My son went to a preschool in Berkeley, run by BUSD 2015-2016. I paid less than $800 M-F 9-3. I know that they have groups run on academic year and also groups for a longer day (these are very hard to get into). I was happy with the public preschool. I visited or spoke to ALL preschools in Berkeley-Albany-Kensigtin area. This was my top choice. My other son will start at the same school (they are called childhood development center, not preschool) in August. The downsides are that children must be fully potty-trained and if you are late 3 times to pick up your child-you are out! The had a weekly library, garden, PE, and theatre performances. Lunches are included in the price. Also they had two field-trips on a school bus. Firefighters visited them on a fire truck and dental hygienists did to teach them how to brush their teeth. I felt that my son, who is now in second grade, was perfectly prepared for school. There are 3 sites: Franklin, Hopkins (we went there), and another one. Information is on BUSD website.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Reviews of BUSD Preschools
My son goes to Berkeley USD preschool and we all love it. There is no residency requirement. There are 3 preschools, officially called Berkeley Child Development Centers (CDC). They provide enrichment programs almost daily: gym class, library class, garden class, literacy class. There is also lunch provided, no volunteer requirements, and two field trips included
We are searching for affordable preschool options for our 3 year old daughter starting in August or September (late June birthday). We live in Oakland, but I read that BUSD preschools do not require residency, and I have not heard much about Oakland's programs nor received any responses when I have written into this newsletter about them. Can someone provide feedback on the different BUSD campuses, the structure of their programs, fees, and the admissions process? Ideally, we would love our daughter to have as much time as possible outside (it's why we live in the Bay Area!) with lots of freedom to explore and a not too academic schedule. But we cannot afford most of the private preschools in the area and missed the boat on scholarships and admissions for most of them anyway, so I am scrounging for options. King looked nice when we walked by the other day, but I don't know anything about it or about the other campuses. Please enlighten me! Thanks. rachel
I wish I had better news for you, but while it's true that the BUSD preschools are open to students from other cities, there is a long waiting list and you must qualify through the state criteria. The income limit is $3,518 per month (about $42K per year) for a family of three before taxes, assuming both parents are working, in school, or looking for work. If you qualify, you should go ahead and apply, but know that there are many more applicants than spots so it may take time to get a space.
If you haven't already contacted BANANAS, you should do that too--they manage state child care/preschool subsidies for Alameda County and can give you a full list of programs, including some private preschools that accept subsidies. The income limit is the same as for BUSD--it's set by the state. Full eligibility and application information for BUSD preschool programs is here: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/schools/early-childhood-education/ece-eligibility/
Hi everyone! In looking for affordable preschools in the Berkeley area, I came across the free pre-k classes offered through the Parks and Recreation Department. Does anyone have experience with this program? The City of Alameda apparently has an amazing preschool through its Parks and Rec. Dept., and I'm wondering if this is comparable. More broadly, do you know of affordable preschools in Berkeley that aren't co-ops? Both my boyfriend and I work, so we wouldn't be able to fulfill the parental involvement requirements. Thanks for your help! - Zoe
Hello, My son was in the Berkeley Parks and Rec Pre-K Power Play program last year and is in it again this year. We love the program and my son loves it too. He has learned so much and has really matured as well. At first, the structure of it was a big change for him. There is some free play, but there are also activities where kids are directed by the teachers. The teachers really worked with us to address issues that he had, and now he is a leader and helps in the class. I really like the teachers and the diversity in the classroom. There is also a really strong feeling of community between the families in the program, and many of us hang outside at the park for lunch after class. We are enrolled at the YAP location but there is also a class at James Kenney. There are also parent education classes offered, and they offer free childcare. It is wonderful that this high quality program is available for families, and for free! We live in Oakland, but the program is open to all Alameda County residents. Becca
Our child is currently in the evaluation process for preschool special education services in BUSD and we are struggling to find information about the full inclusion classrooms at King and Franklin. Can anyone write about recent experiences and about the basic structures of these schools' programs? We especially need to know about times of day that the full inclusion programs are open, whether the preschools are open in the summer, extended day care offerings, the teachers, and occupational therapy services available? -Need to know the preschool options
I can't give you my own recent experience since my son went there 5 years ago, but consider joining Berkeley Special Education Parents Network; we're an informal group of parents who have kids with special needs at BUSD. More info here: http://www.berkeley.net/index.php?page=bsped Jill