Public Schools in Alameda's East End
We are on the verge of moving to Alameda from Berkeley and so are looking into schools-public and charter-in the area. We are still hearing that, after passing a good sized parcel tax referendum last year there are issues with class size, diverting of students from the neighborhood schools, and a few other eyebrow-raising things. We are happy with whichever one we end up attending (East End, off Broadway/Central) but are wondering if other BPNers can offer input to this situation. -Calsi Mom
We are a family with two kids and live on the east end in Alameda (kids go to Otis). Class size is 24-25 K-3rd and 30-32 4th-5th. Because of the parcel tax there is no threat of class size increasing further. Enrollment at neighborhood schools is not typically a problem - occasionally Kindergarten will be over-enrolled, but I don't believe that this happened at either Otis or Edison this year (we have a daughter in K right now and another in 4th). You could call the district office to hear whether they are anticipating a problem this coming fall. The district and teacher's union are having disputes over the teacher contract right now but we trust that these things will be worked out amicably.
Both of these schools have VERY active parent communities and provide a terrific range of opportunities for all kids in terms of arts, music, science, afterschool classes, assemblies, etc. And I have to say that you can't underestimate the value of the neighborhood school for your kids and family - this is something we absolutely love. We have no regrets about sending our kids to Otis - would definitely do it again if we had to make the choice over again, even now with the various charter options in Alameda.
I have heard disturbing rumors about the difficulty of registering for the elementary schools on Alameda's East End. Rumor has it that around 80 children apply for only 60 spaces. Does anyone know about this? How does it work? Is it first come, first serve? Where do kids get bumped to? Seems crazy to buy a house in such a beautiful area with good schools and then not be able to attend. Any help would be appreciated. Alameda hopeful. Anon
Otis Elementary is on the east end of Alameda, and both my children attend there. While there was a 45 minute wait the first day of kindergarten registration this year, there were still open slots left at the end of the day. I think the key would be moving into town before January of the year you would like your child to start kindergarten, and then making sure you know the day of kindergarten registration. As for older kids, I would try calling the school.
I heard the same rumor and investigated it quickly. (We specifically bought a house in a particular school's zone - years before we even had kids, because it was our intention to send our eventual kids to that school.)
What I heard is: this year the school district was caught off guard with the number of kids enrolling in kindergarten at a particular school ... therefore not enough spaces. It was first come first serve (as I believe it should be ... so no personal preferences or politics intervene.) I was told the school district did not expect that extreme of an under-counting to occur again.
It was also suggested that concerned parents do the following: Express your concerns to the school board that A) the district do a better job surveying the number of kids expected to enroll in kindergarten for each school zone well in advance of actual enrollment ... so preparations can be made in time. and B) the district needs to do a better job making sure students they enroll actually live in the zone for that school. I heard an ugly rumor about an Alameda elementary school teacher that tried to use her parent's address to get her child into a particular school. She of all people should have known better! Another concerned east-end mom
We live on the east end in Alameda, in the neighborhood for Otis School. It is true that there are more kids than spots for kindergarten, but only at Edison School. This year there were something like 89 children signed up for 60 spots. However, many parents sign their children up when they haven't decided whether they are going with public or private and want to keep their options open. I think there are not that many families who get sent elsewhere when all is said and done. It does seem to be crazed though - people lined up starting the evening before and stayed in line all night long! There is always an ''extra'' class of kindergarteners at one of the schools for any overflow (this year it was at Otis). This problem does not exist at any of the other schools, and they are also very high quality! The two elementary schools on Bay Farm, as well as Otis, Lum, Franklin (in the Gold Coast neighborhood), and Paden (more on the West end), are all great in their own way.
Unless you are obsessed about living in the Edison neighborhood, which is nice but certainly not the only nice neighborhood, you'll find that the entry for schools is refreshingly simple and straightforward. -happy on the east end!
It is somewhat of a challenge enrolling a new student into the Alameda schools due to limited space. But the flip side, should your child get in...is that class sizes are kept small and children are provided with more indivual attention. But there's the deal - You have to enroll as early as possible and show proof of residency at time of enrollment. First come. First Serve. If you can't enroll during the spring ''open enrollment'' period, you must wait until the school re-open in late summer to register. All students who register are expected to show up on the first day of school. Within that first month, they will assess class sizes and send a note home to the parents of students who were enrolled last, with a list of schools with openings for that grade. The parent can choose which school from the list to enroll their student at that time. The students will then be placed on a waiting list for their ''home'' school. When openings come up, parents will be notified and can either keep their child where they're at...or transfer them back to the home school. That's the process as it was explained to me last spring. Hope that helps. Candace