Advice about Alameda Public Schools

Parent Q&A

Alameda Schools Dec 10, 2019 (0 responses below)
Recent feedback on Alameda West End schools Sep 21, 2019 (1 responses below)
Special education support in Alameda Unified District schools? Jun 4, 2019 (2 responses below)
Seeking advices for elementary school in Alameda Oct 29, 2017 (3 responses below)
  • Alameda Schools

    (0 replies)

    We are looking to move to Alameda from SF.  Can anyone talk about the schools?  I have heard great things about Maya Lin and Paden.  Im very curious about Love Elementary as that is a neighborhood we keep being drawn towards and I hear mixed things about this school.    And I know people love Edison and Otis yet I don't know anyone who attends.  Im looking for a school where community, arts, and play are all valued.  I fear kids are pushed into academics too hard at such a young age and Im curious if any of these schools support some of my same values.   

    And, is it hard to transfer out of your neighborhood into another elementary school?

    Any input is welcome.  Thanks.

  • We are considering moving our family to West End in Alameda and would like recent feedback on schools (elem, middle, and high).   I know that test scores aren't everything but I saw a 3/10 for Ruby Bridges Elem which is alarming.  I have heard that Encinal is up and coming and has improved greatly.  I've also heard charter schools are an option.  I would love some detailed recent feedback from current West End parents on their respective schools and how they like it and any general advice about the public school enrollment process (i.e. is it even possible to try to enroll in a school outside of your neighborhood or are you pretty much limited to your neighborhood school due to space constraints?)

    It is possible to transfer out of your home school area but many times you don’t find out until weeks before the start of the school year. However, the public schools have been more impacted since they closed Lum and redrew schools lines to accommodate the kids.

    Aoa is a charter on the west end and it’s a mixed bag. Its a new school still working out kinks and trying to retain staff, but the school brings a good vibe of inclusion and social justice, on-site after school program and a middle school associated with it. Oh, and lice...they’ve had enough repeated occurrence of lice in their classes that they bring professionals in to check all the elementary school kids after a extended school break. Kids are accepted by lottery, after sibling priority.

  • Hi there,

    My family will be moving to Alameda this summer, and I’d like to learn more about the special education resources available to AUSD elementary school students. Since we have been living abroad, my son has not been formally assessed. However, we suspect ADHD and/or a sensory processing disorder.

    Any recent experiences and/or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help.

    Hi! I don’t have any experience with the Alameda school district but there is a great resource on Facebook. You can check out the page titled East Bay autism parents. There are lots of folks with info to share that might be helpful to you.

    I’m new to this too and have found the local Facebook group to be helpful in this regard. Search for “IEP & Spec. Ed. Support for AUSD Families” and request to join the group. 

  • Hi!

    We are a Belgium family with two kids (8 and 4 years) and we are planning to move in Alameda in July. (My husband has been working for a startup in San Francisco). We are looking for a elementary school for our eldest son. I saw on « greatschools » that Edison was great, Earhart too, but I would like to know the opinion from Alamedian parents :-) Which school in Alameda would you recommend for my 8 years old boy? Thank you! 

    We have just started at Edison in Kindergarten, and it's been a great experience so far. But from what I understand, all the schools here are excellent, and you can't really go wrong!

    Both Edison and Earhart are excellent schools, so you are fine at either. But you should know that this year a large elementary school in Alameda was shut down due to earthquake safety reasons, and all the kids dispersed to other schools. As a result, many schools are full to capacity for certain grades. You still stand a good chance to get in to your first choice school if you live within the district, but you should have some mental preparation just in case you don't, and you can also do some research to figure out what your second and third choice is. You should also do this in case you can't rent/buy within the district you want by July. Most (not all) elementary schools in Alameda are great, as well as some charter schools, so you don't have to worry too much. You can also call the school district and see what they can project for class sizes for the coming school year. Good luck!

    Alameda public schools are assigned by your neighborhood, you can't just choose schools. For instance, to get assigned to Edison, you would need to live in that district, and same with Earhart. Interdistrict transfers are technically possible, but you might not be able to transfer your child to the school you want. Also to know, because of the recent influx of families, there is not always room in a given school for all the children in the neighborhood and they may be "diverted" to other schools.

    So, just understand that which school you are considering will really depend on where you end up finding housing - you can't just pick and choose. That being said, we were at Edison for many years and very happy there... but we also hear good things about Earhart, and in general, most of the elementary schools are excellent, including some magnet and charter options.

    To learn more, I would recommend joining the Alameda Parents Network Yahoo Group - very active, and all Alamedan membership...  as BPN historically is more Oakland/Berkeley based. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/alamedaparentsnetwork/info

    Good luck in your move!

  • Hi BPN! 

    My husband and I currently live in Castro Valley, we moved here when our son was born 1.5 years ago from Oakland. We chose Castro Valley for it's affordability and school ratings, and proximity to our jobs in Oakland and Berkeley.

    My husbands father passed recently, so we are now in a position in which his mother will be moving in with us to help take care of our son, and us take care of her. We were looking for a larger home in CV, but inventory here is scarce! We toured the new homes at Alameda Landing over the weekend and they seem to be lovely and offer a lot of what we need. From what I know and read about Alameda is that people love living there!

    My question to those who are familiar with Alameda: How are the schools on the West End? I saw one of them rating a 4 for elementary school. Also, how does that area fare in comparison to the rest of Alameda? It seems to be developing quite a bit. We primarily like these new homes because we do not want to deal with the issues of the older homes on the island.

    Any advice about the area, schools and Alameda overall as a whole is greatly appreciated!

    That area of Alameda is zoned for a newer school that has lower ratings. However, I've found that the school district is great and that the schools with lower scores are more reflective of the student population (such as populations with more non-English speakers or less affluent communities) that will test worse due to lack of resources rather than the deficiency of the school staff. Alameda has a bit of a crisis with the sudden closure of Lum elementary. That means that the population of many schools throughout the district will be changing next year and this might change test scores. It also means that school enrollment might be a bit complicated as well. I'd call the district to ask. If you are interested in a charter school, at least two are located on the West End (NEA and Alameda Academy). If you want a new home, the area around Alameda Landing is decent. It is lacking of some of the charm of the rest of the island but has easy access to the rest of the town, and is close to the ferry (and Target!). There will be a lot of new development on the Naval Air Station in the coming years, so expect more people and more traffic. Alameda has a great sense of community and we love it here, so you won't be sorry if you move.   

    The west end of Alameda has a lot to offer, along with many school choices. There is no one right school for every kid, so you'll want to check out the different models. Some AUSD schools include Ruby Bridges, Paden, and Maya Lin (arts magnet), and charter schools include Academy of Alameda and Nea. AUSD schools tend to me more traditional, with the exception of Maya Lin, while the charters have their own unique models. We are lucky to have so many choices in Alameda, and it's a great place to live! One bit of advice - if you are moving to the west end and are interested in the charters or Maya Lin, apply ASAP! They often have waitlists. 

Parent Reviews

Forgot to add:  All schools are good, including several school district run charters (which means no extra tuition).  Some of the awarded elementary schools include Edison (but can be hard to get into), Paden, Haight and Bay Farm.  Alameda High has consistently high test scores and college admission rates.  Encinal High a little less so, but has improved *drastically* in the past 7 to 10 years from being the red-haired stepchild of the system.

What about Alameda? It would be a great commute for you, Alameda has highly rated and diverse schools. The main island probably has more of the diversity you're looking for - you could check in with our Islamic Center for thoughts. Encinal High seems somewhat more diverse than Alameda High, but you will certainly find other Muslim students at either, and at our several charter schools (Nea, ACLC, ASTI).  As far as housing goes, you could find a nice 4 bedroom house in that price range. Kids in my kids' classes speak several languages, are from many countries, and practice many religions. None of it phases any of the kids. Good luck with your search!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

 

Questions Related Pages

 

Move to Bay Farm or Castro Valley for the schools?

Jan 2013

 

We are considering a move to one of these areas based on school quality, safety, community cohesiveness, affordability. My impression is that these places would fit the bill. Are there certain neighborhoods to look into? We are considering secondary schools too, not just elementary. Other things we should know? Also wondering if we need to be moved in by the beginning of enrollment or if we wait until summer could it get complicated? Thank you Hope to move



We live with our two small children in Bay Farm, Alameda for the schools. There are two excellent elementary schools. Call Alameda Unified but my impression is most families have no problem enrolling. Alameda has neighborhood schools so you are assigned a school based on a map, which is easily available online from AUSD. Occasionally a school is over enrolled so your child could get bumped. The neighborhood feels very safe and child friendly. It is not what I would call affordable though. That's highly subjective though. A lot of bay Farm is made up of planned developments which has its pluses and minuses. Bring your bikes or come for a walk by the lagoon to check it out.

The middle school is Lincoln, which is highly rated. They have an open house for prospective families this month, if you miss it you may be able to arrange a tour. (sorry don't have the date). Additionally Bay Farm Elementary is transitioning to a small k-8 so if you move to that zone you would have an additional option for middle school.


 

Seeking Info on Alameda Elementary Schools

Nov 2011

 

Hello BPN Families, Our family is considering moving to Alameda. I am hopeful to find parents that would give current reviews for Otis, Franklin, and Paden Elementary Schools, as the ones on the BPN archive are from 2008. There appear to be no tours or open houses offered until the January/February kindergarden ''round up'' process begins, and we are trying to find ways to experience each of these schools before we make a move withing the next two months.

Some of our main questions are: What is the school culture like? Are there performing/visual arts integrated into the school day curriculum? Do the children have PE? I've read about overcrowding in older posts. Is that still and issue? For which schools? What is your school's greatest challenge/asset? Any insight on how to visit/tour the schools would be very helpful. Many thanks! Peace- Erin



Welcome to Alameda! After 2 years in private school where my son fell behind, we toured a dozen schools in the area and selected our neighborhood school; Washington . 4 years later, I am so glad we did. The teachers are very experienced, the class sizes are small (18 for 4th, 27 for 5th), and the community is great! The most important thing is to arrange a private tour where you can observe actual classes in session, to find the right match for your child. My then very active going- on-7 year old fell in love with the ex-theater performer teacher, who knew how to hold their attention. He has thrived with heavy emphasis on hands on science, and reading skill appropriate books picked by the students (he's reading a graphic novel a day now.) Don't wait for round up, any school worth attending won't mind you observing an hour or 2 of class. Drop in on a PTA meeting for you perspective school to see what current families say. Good luck with your choice. Annie



My daughter is a third grader at Otis and we're quite happy with it. Class size is 25. Some grades, some years a few kids might get bumped to neighboring schools if it's overfull. If you're planning to register mid-year you could probably call the office and make sure there's currently room in your grade/s. We started in May and the next fall 6-8 kids got bumped from her grade, but she wasn't one. There's PE and music twice a week from teachers on staff, and a very organized parent volunteer program that does visual arts (not sure exactly how often). There's a very organized parent community that runs the visual arts program, a new garden program, fundraising, after school classes, etc. Happy Otis parent


 

Positive School Environments in Alameda?

June 2011

 

Our current public school has really punted the ball on issues related to bullying over the past couple years, and we've seen the effect on both of our daughters (not to mention on many other kids at the school). For this and other reasons we're planning a move to Alameda. Ahead of the move we're interested to learn what steps local elementary, middle, and high schools are taking to reduce and respond to bullying as well as less virulent forms of teasing/exclusion. We'd like to hear about any schools that do a particularly good (or not-so-good) job of creating a safe and positive environment for all students, and we'd love to hear from parents of Alameda girls who don't make friends very easily but are having a healthy and socially fulfilling school experience all the same. Thanks for your help. Anon



Our experience is that many of the schools in Alameda have very rigorous anti-bullying programs. My kids have attended Bay Farm Elementary, so that is the bulk of my experience. While kids will be kids, I've found that the prevention messages are loud and clear, and when situations have arisen, they have been dealt with promptly.

I believe the other elementary schools have been similar in their approach, but can't say for sure.

Another local resource is the Alameda Parents Network- on Yahoo Groups- and as you get closer to becoming a local, it will be helpful for many topics. happy alameda parent


 

Alameda elementary school options

Feb 2011

 

We may be moving to Alameda and I am interested to hear people's opinions on their public schools, as well as St. Joseph's Catholic school. I have a kindergartner and 2nd grader and want to find a school that has solid academics. Thanks



To be honest, I don't believe you can go wrong with any of the Alameda Public Schools. Save your money for college. They have extremely dedicated teachers whose sole interest is educating our children. I have lived in Alameda for 23 years and all three of my children did very well going to Alameda public schools throughout K-12. While I am not a teacher, I am credentialed as a CA teacher and worked/substitute taught for years in may of the Alameda elementary schools. Your child will receive a wonderful education and will be prepared to go to college as all of my children have done. happy in Alameda



Your question about Alameda's schools cannot fully be answered until March 8th, when we vote on our latest attempt to pass a school parcel tax. If it succeeds (last year's attempt didn't), then our schools will remain good but the draconian cuts required if it fails are more than a little scary. Anon

(Editor) responses were also received for St. Joseph Elementary School


 

Where are the best schools in Alameda?

August 2010

 

We love Alameda and are considering an in town move since our 2/1 ''starter house'' is getting pretty crowded now that we have 2 kids. One of the things I really value is the ability to use the local, community based public schools. I know that some are better than others. Which do you think are the best in Alameda (94501 NOT 94502)? Are Haight and Washington the only ones to avoid? Does your Alameda school have a great community feeling? Do you think they are gonna close Franklin since it is so small? If it is closed which will it combine with? Many thanks Island parents! jenny



IMO, there are not any schools you need to avoid! The district offers the same curriculum and they don't place all the bad teachers at Washington and Haight and all the good teachers at Edison and Franklin. That being said there are schools with a lot more diversity than others. It all depends what you are looking for. I know there is talk about Washington becoming an art magnet program. Alot of people like NEA alot too. Go observe the schools when they are back in session...that will give you the best idea of what school is best for your children. You can also become a member of Alameda Parents Network yahoo group to give you access to more Alameda parents. Feel free to email me offline if you have more specific questions!


 

What do we need to know about Alameda schools?

May 2010

 

My husband and I are planning to attend open houses for Alameda elementary schools next month. We'd appreciate advice from seasoned parents (AUSD or elsewhere) about what questions we should ask. What would you have liked to know before you enrolled your child in public elementary school? What do we *really* need to know to help us make a decision or get prepared for our local school? Many thanks to all who can shed light on this daunting process! Alameda Mom



First it depends on which neighborhood you're looking at. I don't think Bay Farm, Edison, Otis, or Ruby Bridges are likely to close. Based on AUSD's funding issues, I bet Franklin will close with many students moving to Washington or Ruby Bridges over their parents' strident objections. The high schools may be consolidated and Wood Middle School may close.

My kid is just finishing up at Otis, which was overall a very positive experience. I can't really speak for the other schools but if you are curious, it's worth looking online at the schools' test scores and standing. The biggest indicator is the quality of your child's teacher! There are some teachers at Otis I'd recommend. Others I wouldn't. On the other hand, there are other parents who would disagree with my assessment - we had a very positive experience with a teacher I heard a lot of nasty rumors about.

An important factor is the PTA's activity level. The teachers at Washington are reputedly quite dedicated, but there's almost no PTA activity. Otis has a VERY active PTA which means there are extracurricular activities and educational opportunities not available to some other schools. For a long time, Edison was THE elementary school benchmark. 10 years ago Otis was sort of a dump, but its climate has changed as more young families have moved into the area. Efforts of the garden club, art docents, Art is Education, science docents, and even the Dads' Club have made Otis a more vital, welcoming school.

I think that, particularly if some west end schools are consolidated, it might actually be good for the AUSD student body on the larger scale, where more active parents are spreading their effort amongst a larger pool of students... sometimes inexperienced parents just need a little nudge or guidance from those more active. However, AUSD's budget crisis is such that there WILL be budget cuts again, and likely closures, within the next 3 years whether or not the parcel tax (Measure E) passes. Crowding will be an issue. ... PTA - active parent


 

Considering a move from Oakland to Alameda

March 2010

 

I currently live in Oakland Laurel neighborhood with my wife and daughter (20 months). We are considering buying a new house in Alameda and are starting to do some research of the Alameda public schools. From our research up to this point, it seems like the public schools are overall decent, but the better ones have enrollment issues. We would consider paying more on a mortgage to get into a better public school in a better neighborhood, but there are no guarantees. I've also heard of school closures.

We are hoping that BPN members living in Alameda can help with your most recent observations on the public school landscape. Most of the archived info on the BPN website on this subject are a couple of years old. Where is the best place to live in Alameda for schools? Thanks for your help.



We bought our first house in Alameda a few years ago and have been happy with our choice. We have two children, one of which has started school at Edison Elementary.

Over-enrollment: It is true that some of the schools have over-enrollment issues at this time and so far there is no long-term solution. In the recent past, extra children at Edison have been able to enroll by creating a 4th kindergarten classroom, this has occurred twice so far, and now the school is pretty much out of room. For the upcoming year, they are considering changing the student-teacher ratio to 25:1 instead of 20:1 to absorb the extra few children that signed up for this fall.

School reputation: For what it's worth, some elementary schools are considered more desirable than others... on the main island that would be Edison and Otis, which are east end schools (east of Park Street). Franklin and Lum are also considered pretty good. The two on Bay Farm Island have good reputations as well. What does this mean? Well I would say all public schools in Alameda are good schools. However they are public schools, and parent participation and willingness to create extra programs and make things happen at each school is what makes the difference. Some schools have a greater amount of parent involvement than others. For example, Edison has a very active and involved PTA that provides and funds many school programs and events (Art Docent, Garden Docent, Science Docent, assemblies, field trips, game night, fall festival, etc). Other schools may not have such a wide variety of ''extras'' and may not have the overabundance of volunteering parents (we don't have one room parent, we have 3, we don't have 3 art docents per school, we have 3 per classroom... you get the idea).

Overall I would definitely recommend moving to Alameda, we love how our children go to the neighborhood school and the sense of community it provides. We do pay a higher mortgage specifically to have our children attend the school that they do. There is a pdf map available on the AUSD website with school boundaries if you have not seen it already. I know it's a tricky time at the moment and a bit of a leap of faith due to the recent over- enrollment issues, however so far AUSD has been able to keep families at their respective schools somehow... not sure how this will play out by the time your 20 month old is kindergarten age... however there seems to be some general understanding of the seriousness of the issue. Many people buy homes here in certain areas specifically for the local school so AUSD has tried to keep everyone happy... however funding and space issues are unfortunately very real, regardless of good intentions. Best of luck and hope you find what you are looking for. Alamedan


 

Thinking about moving from Lamorinda to Alameda

August 2005

 

We are unhappy in Moraga and would like to move to Alameda. I am concerned that I will be doing our two young children a disservice if we move b/c Moraga schools are supposed to be 'the best' which I guess makes Alameda schools 'lesser'. Is there anyone who has made this move, or a similar one? How did it turn out? I don't want to harm my children's future but I can't see spending the next 15 years in a place I dislike. Our older child just finished kindergarten at CP in Moraga and had a great year - but she is very bright and outgoing! and would probably do well anywhere. Still, I have a nagging feeling that I if I were a better parent I would make the sacrifice to stay here and send her to 'the best' schools. anon



I am an Alameda Mom with two young girls. We moved here from Berkeley, and one of our major reasons were that the public schools were so good over here - elementary, that is. I don't know much about middle/high schools here yet... and I can't compare with Moraga, having never lived there. Alameda is a unique and wonderful, family friendly community with so much to offer children. If you have any more specific questions about the area, feel free to contact me. Good luck! ali



I did not make your move from Lamarinda to Alameda. But, I do live in Alameda and know that the schools in the good districts are excellent. Edison, Amelia Earhardt, and Bay Farm are the best elementary schools that feed into Lincoln Middle School, which is the best middle school in the area and then Alameda High School- has mixed reviews- it is a big school with AP classes. If your child might fall into the ''wrong'' crowd it might not be the best but it has a great mix of races. I have also heard that Lamarinda schools are hard for kids to keep up with clothes etc. I know there is pressure in Alameda also, but not as bad as Lamarinda. anon



My son is entering 1st grade at Otis Elementary in Alameda. His kindergarten year there was great.... [See Otis Elementary School for the rest of the review.]



Alameda is a really nice district. I would give you a head's up on the economic polarity of the island. It changes quite a bit from one end to the other, and it seems that I've heard a few things here and there about it not being a very minority friendly place. It has a very small town feel to it and seems to be strongly community oriented.

As for the elementary schools, it depends where you go. If you move to Harbor Bay you'll get Bay Farm and Earhart which are supposed to be the cream of the crop. Bay Farm was like a 10/8 in API and I'm not sure about Earhart. My take on those schools is that they can be competitive, although you will have a very active parent community. I think Bay Farm raises enough money to give each of its teachers 200 in classroom funds each year and fund a great variety of activities. On the main island I've heard really nice things about Otis, Franklin and Edison. They seem to have a very diverse population of kids, well respected teachers who have been there for years, and a nice community focus. The further west you go, the more you will confront ''Oakland Issues'', which I think is a code for the racial stuff I mentioned earlier. Woodstock is a title I school and struggles with test ! scores every year, but I know some teachers there and they are amazing, dedicated and proud of their school.

As far as Middle School goes, I know Lincoln has pretty good academics but the kids can be quite cliquish. I'm aware there are some principal issues (at one point grieved by her staff over the last two years) but I'm not sure if she's still there. Chipman seems to be the ''diamond in the rough''. They're new principal is extremely well respected and has done wonders with the Math and Language Arts programs. There is apparently some District Math trainer who is working with the teachers to raise test scores in Math and better prepare students for Algebra. He also worked with Hayward and did some good things for them. I believe Chipman has really jumped on board and is seeing positive results.

I'm in the dark about High School.

All in all, Alameda is a nice, safe place to live and is a great place to raise kids. It offers a lot more diversity than I imagine Moraga does and is very child centered. It may not have all the bells and whistles that Moraga does but it graduates some very successful people (as any school district will).

I don't think you're being a ''bad parent'' if you choose to move to a place that makes you happy. If you're happy, you're children will be happy. But you'll do what feels right. Go visit the schools, that's the best way to find out.

BTW, I have a friend who is a teacher and lives in Alameda. That's where I'm getting my info!

Good Luck!



Deciding where to live is a personal decision. Both your happiness and your children's education are important considerations. Alameda public schools are more diverse than those in Moraga. If your children were to attend Alameda public schools, they would be more apt to meet kids who did not speak English at home and whose parents had a wide variety of jobs. That adds a lot to a child's educational experience. Two Alameda schools that have great academics are Bay Farm and Edison. There are many others. If you decide to move, you should look into Alameda school attendance zones and student assignment policies. debbie


 

More advice from parents

Nov 2003

 

We have had great success with the Alameda schools. Paden provides a developmental approach and the teachers are remarkable. You can apply to have your child attend there. One son is currently at Lincoln and is doing well. Lincoln has a huge nature area along the bay where students learn science. The band program has been great for my son, and the music teacher inspires him daily. My older son had a good experience at Wood Middle School Academy. It is a small school within a school. Currently he attends the Alameda Community Learning Center. Both schools addressed his special needs and are very supportive. Patti



June 2003

Does anyone have information to share about Alameda Public Elementary Schools? Danielle



I taught in Alameda at three of the elementary schools on the island: Bay Farm, Lum, Miller. This was a while ago,1993-97. Miller is right near the base (or what was the base) and its population was 100% naval families. This made for lots of movement mid-year for kids, which was hard. Lum was a good solid middle of the road school - very active pta, good administration, etc. The principal when I was there was Patty Klaus and I believe she is the principal of Franklin School now. I have not taught at Franklin, but I believe it has an excellent reputation and Patty Klaus is great. It has small numbers, too. Bay Farm was also great, lots of excellent programs, lovely facility, very involved families. Paden has an excellent reputation for strong developmental programs, mixed grade levels, and dedicated faculty. All in all, I enjoyed teaching in Alameda and would feel comfortable sending my kids to school in the district (depending on the school, though). AUSD is not as overwhelmingly huge to deal with as Oakland or Berkeley Public Schools seem to be. Melissa