Affordable Private Schools

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Looking for an affordable K-4 private school

June 2010

Break it down for me BPN members, I need to know the most affordable K-4 programs in the East Bay that are still good quality. What are some good East bay K-4 schools that are affordable (under $15k per year)?

We are considering the Catholic schools but am put off by the questions on the applications regarding Catholic faith and milestones as we do not belong to a catholic church. Will they accept children of atheists? AA

I am very happy with GISSV Berkeley Campus . This is a German immersion school, however don't be scared if you don't speak german yourself. We have families in every grade that fit that profile. The curriculum is well rounded and their K approach is play based which will give your child a nice adjustment time to get to know the language and teachers. My older son will be going to 3rd grade after the summer break and my second child will start K. Now to the affordability of the program, this school is subsidized by the german government which makes it very affordable for the kind of education they are able to give. Here is the link to their website: click the Berkeley Campus tab on the side Best of luck GISSV mom

We are very happy with the Berkeley Campus (located in Kensington) of the German International School of Silicon Valley ( The teachers are wonderful, classes are small (not more than 20 kids) and the goal of everyone is to make every single child succeed. For 15k$/year you even get the after school care until 6pm (sorry, to lazy to dig out a bill to figure out regular tuition, probably around 11k$). Happy GISSV mom

The best deal in K-5 education is the public schools. Despite the negative press, Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro all have some excellent elementary schools. My daughter has been at Kaiser Elementary in Oakland since Kindergarten (now going into 5th.) I have been at least as happy with her school experience and my friends paying for private school. Plus daily lessons in diversity, tolerance and mutli-cultural living that are hard to come by in the private setting Good luck. A Happy Public School Mom

I was in your shoes three years ago when I wanted to find an affordable, quality private school other than a catholic school. Some of the prices for the private schools in the east bay are outrageous and yet the education isn't distinctively better. After an extensive search, I found Archway School . The tuition is more than a catholic school, but remains less than most private schools. We are so happy with the education and it has proved to be the best value in the east bay as it offers small class sizes, a strong community, and hand on learning taught by incredible teachers. Archway is located on two campuses: k-4 in Oakland, #547-4747 or 5-8 in Berkeley, #849-4747. Good luck! Budget Happy Archway Parent

Really, the best deal in private non-secular education in the East Bay is Crestmont School K-5 in the Richmond hills. Don't let the address turn you off, it is on Arlington Ave. and basically in the same neighborhood as many other private schools in El Cerrito area, but about one half the price of the comparable schools (family montessori, windrush, prospect, tehiyah) .

Crestmont is a co-op school and that is why it is so affordable but it is very different than co-op preschools. The staff of experienced teachers are credentialed and very dedicated and creative. Classroom participation is NOT required and but you get tuition remission if you do participate, so that is another way to bring tuition down. The education provided by Crestmont is creative and honors the whole child. It is a very special community and worth looking into. They still have limited openings for this year. Good luck, Carol (parent at school)

Having just done the school search myself I can tell you that the Catholic schools are probably the only private schools below 15K a year. You do not need to be Catholic or even religious, assuming they have space for you. Priority goes to parish members. Catholic schools are subsidized by the church, so that's why they are less expensive. But the reason the church subsidizes the schools is because of the religious aspects of the schools, so just be aware of that.

Most local private schools have info on their website about tuition and fees, so that would be a good place to start.

One school in Berkeley that I can recommend is Walden Center and School , a K-6. It is a teacher co-operative, and parents provide a lot of the maintenance and office staffing, so it's more affordable. My nephew, now in high school, attended Walden K-6 and he was very well prepared academically and also enjoyed going to school every day. We are starting there in the fall. It's a very sweet community, with an arts focus. You might want to check it out. a Mom

It's worth looking into Mills College Children's School , which has always been on the lower side of the tuition range. Most people know about their preschool, but not their elementary program... Small size, stellar staff, great facilities. MCCS parent