Enrolling in Alameda Schools

Parent Q&A

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  • Timing move to Alameda

    (2 replies)

    Currently, we live in Castro Valley and would like to move to Alameda. I have a 1st grader who attends special day class in CV and am wondering when is the best time of year to move so as to qualify for Alameda school enrollment. I realize that we've missed the deadline for the 2021-2022 school year but am planning for the future. If anyone has any information on Alameda's special education program, I'd appreciate that, too. Thank you.

    Alameda does enrollment in January. But it really depends what grade your child will be when you move, and what school you are zoned for. Some schools are often overenrolled (like Edison), but other schools are not. In some schools, certain grades are full and certain grades have lots of space. That said, most schools are good in Alameda so if you don't get into your neighborhood school, chances are good you'll get into another school that is just as good. When you get closer to your move, you can call the district office and ask for information.

    Hello, we moved to Alameda in December a few years ago to meet the January kinder enrollment deadline for the school of our choice, but even if you move right before (or during) the school year the public school has to accept your kiddo. I think it only becomes an issue if you want to get into a school that tends to overenroll. Last time I looked, schools on the east end, Otis and Edison, did have a few students that wanted to enroll but had to be placed in another school because they were full. When that happens, I believe that that kids who enroll the latest have to switch to a different school, so timing matters in that situation. But generally Alameda does neighborhood schools so you'd be assigned based on where you live.

    In terms of special education, we had a fairly traumatic experience trying to get an IEP for our son during COVID. I think it is pretty standard for schools to do this, but they seemed to want to avoid doing a meaningful evaluation and then drag everything out for months, and now are only doing services over zoom. But if your child already has an IEP, you won't have to deal with that unfun process. Currently the kids in special day class are going in person to school, and my understanding is that the schools plan to open in person next year for everyone. In addition, our experiences with the individual special education providers and OT have been very positive. They are warm and kind and have brought materials to drop off at our home during COVID. In terms of the big picture, the district's special education director is about to retire, so I am not sure what changes that will bring. I hope this is helpful. I am happy to connect with you individually if you'd like- the moderator can share my contact with you. 

Parent Reviews

You'll need proof of residency before the schools will accept you. But what helps is to find a place that has neighborhood schools (i.e. NOT San Francisco, which uses a lottery system), and then call the district and ask if any of those schools have spaces next year. Try Alameda. Chances are one of our schools can accommodate all 3 of your children, and Alameda is so small it will be a short walk/drive to the next school over. Just be warned--many of our schools are great, but not all. So best to look up the schools first and ask around, then choose your first, second, and third choice.

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Questions & Advice

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Alameda Overenrollment: What are my options?

Jan 2015

I just got back from the Alameda Unified School District kindergarten meetings, and I'm
now worried that my child will not get a place at our zoned elementary school.  (This
elementary school is basically why we bought a house here!)  I then started perusing
private schools, only to realize that we are way, way behind in applications. Are there
any private schools that are still accepting applications for kindergarten?  I was so
determined to support our public schools and now I'm concerned that I've completely
boxed myself out of a private option if we don't get into the school we're zoned for
here.  Any tips?  Can anyone talk me off a ledge? 
Anxious Pre-K Parent


We were in this position twice in Alameda. We were zoned for Otis. Our choices were excellent (Edison, Bay Farm, Earhart) but others who preferred those schools decided to go. The key thing is to enroll as early as possible - this number is key (at least it was a year and a half ago). What it means is if you are early/on time you should be ok. There was a situation where a family moved in a block from our school but it was over the summer- hence a very 'high/late'' number - I don't know if they ever got in to that school. It is very stressful but I don't think you need to look at private. Good luck

Speaking as an Alameda parent with a child in a coveted elementary school, just to start out that it is way, way too soon to panic. I don't know what they told you in the information session, but they really don't know until after the roundup is done what the enrollment is, and even then, the picture is not fully complete until right before the school year starts.

Also, to ease your concerns, the schools really try to accommodate everyone as best they can - if they have a huge extra number of students, they may create an extra section or a split level class. Even when kids do get diverted -- which happens sometimes (not often) -- they can definitely come back when it opens back up. Also, there are a number of really excellent public schools in Alameda, so this is not so bad.

If you want to know about alternatives, you should look into Maya Lin (arts) and NEA (charter) as alternative public schools not based on your neighborhood.

So you know, the district has had to handle a large influx of young families, all coming - like you - because of the schools. This has put school officials in a difficult position and this may be why they were sounding pessimistic in your info session. They don't want to be seen to be making promises they can't follow through on. However, it is their job to make sure kids who live in the city get enrolled in a public school, and most of the time kids end up in their neighborhood school.

I would also suggest you join the Alameda Parents Network Yahoo Group, which has something like 5,000 members and is VERY active. Because of this, very few Alamedans post on BPN about schools. Welcome to Alameda! mm_spark

You don't say which school is your local school, but I can assure you that there are a number of very very good elementary schools in Alameda with fabulous teachers, great kids and parents, and lots of resources. If your child has to go into a lottery for a place at your local school and does not get one, you can request placement at specific schools. In my mind, there are at least four or five elementary schools in Alameda that are competitive with the best you see in other communities in terms of scores and resources, and most of the others, while perhaps not as resource rich, are still fabulous schools where your child would get a great education. While it may require driving your child to school, at least you would be staying on the island. Most private schools would mean driving off island. There also are several fabulous charter school options in Alameda, including Nea. It is not too late to apply to them. Happy Alameda public school parent

Can you enroll more than one school?

Dec 2007

I have just moved to the city of Alameda and I understand that the enrollment for Kindergarten in publics schools starts in January 2008. Can you enroll more than one school of your choice? or you can just choose one? veronica

As far as I understand, you must enroll in your local school. According to a newly adopted policy, if more students enroll in that school than there are spaces available, the school will lottery the spaces. If you do not ''win'' a space in that school, you will be asked to select another option. At that point, you get to ''choose'' (to the extent there is any choice). If you want to apply to attend a school other than your local school from the get go, you should talk to the district about how to do that. also in Alameda

Changing to another school within Alameda

May 2004

We are strongly considering moving to Alameda. We've generally heard good things about the school district, have read the BPN postings, and have looked up the API scores. We planned to limit our search to schools with very high test scores. But... we've found a house we're intestered in and the neighborhood school is one of the ''average'' scoring schools (6/7 API)-- it's Haight Elementary. I know the limitations of test scores-- that they are just one indictor and that they are strongly related to family socioeoncomic status. Haight has a more diverse racial and economic student body than other Alameda schools and diversity is something we care about as well. Ideally, we'd have both diversity and very high test scores. Does anyone have experience with Haight Elementary? Any any experience requesting attendance at another school-- we've heard they have an Open Enrollment policy. We'd be interested in four other schools -- would that increase our odds of getting in? We're calling the school district to ask these questions but also wanted to hear from Alameda families. Thanks. Jen

My son will be entering K in the fall of 2005. We're in the Haight school district. I take it you've checked the http://www.greatschools.net/ website? There's only one parent comment there, but it's pretty darn depressing.

A friend's child will be entering K this fall, and she's in the Washington school district (which is only marginally better than the dismal Haight)--and she's been informed that she may not even be able to get into *that* school! -Much less into Edison/Franklin/Otis or other fairly stellar schools. Wow.

I don't know about transfers (but will learn by looking over my friend's shoulder!). Good luck. (I do like our neighborhood!) Jennie

We moved to from Albany to Alameda in September into the Washington school district, as our daughter was entering first grade. We were not thrilled with the school, and were told that there were too many students in the first grade, and some may have to be moved. We went to Franklin school in person and found they had too few first graders and our daughter was admitted immediately. Don't assume because your assigned school is overcrowded that all schools will be. Franklin was actually hurting for first graders, although I don't know if that will be true again this year. I would recommend going in person to the school of your choice and talking to them about enrollment. Good luck.