Otis Elementary School
See also: Alameda After-School Options
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Re: Seeking Info on Alameda Elementary Schools
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
My daughter will be entering Kindergarten Fall of 2009. I'm interested in hearing from parents of Otis School on the east end of Alameda. Would like to hear about teachers, classrooms, community and parent involvement, extracurricular offerings, and anything you feel stands out at this school. After touring several private schools, the reality of our finances has hit home and I'm realizing that I know next to nothing about the public school system. Have checked the archives and greatschools.net but would really appreciate current information. Thanks! alamedamama
We too looked at private schools before our daughter started at Otis School. We have been quite happy there and have not regretted going the public route at all. happy Otis mom
Otis (and most of the other elem. schools in Alameda) is a treasure. Nearly all of the kids who attend are from the surrounding neighborhood - lots of very nice and supportive families! There is quite a lot of diversity, both in terms of race/ethnicity, family composition, and income. The community of parents is VERY active and involved. Most of the teachers are excellent, and enjoy their job. The kids are happy at this school! There are extracurricular afterschool classes to sign up for, including topics such as carpentry, dance, science, tennis, drama, etc. The teachers have to follow the state curriculum standards but we've found that they are creative about how to get that done in a way that doesn't tie their hands from doing more than boring rote work, particularly in the older grades. If it matters to you, the school as a whole has climbed in the API rankings/scores each year for a number of years (and there are a lot of english language learners so it is pretty impressive). There are fun activities outside of regular school hours - Halloween carnival, movie nights, gardening weekends, etc. Otis really is a wonderful community - check it out, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Happy Otis parent
Re: Transferring from Oakland Schools to Alameda
I would be wary of feeling certain of getting a K slot at Otis. While each of the last two years they have opened an extra classroom at Otis to absorb the increase in in-zone kids, there is no reason to except that they will do that again next year and if they do those spots are increasingly likely to be filled by island kids bumped from other high- performing schools. Both of the demographic reports done recently (one by the district and another by a group of concerned parents) indicate a huge rise in kindergarden-age kids on the east end next year and the years following--so spots at Otis will become even harder to come by. an islander
I'm not sure from your post if you are a resident of Alameda, but if you are not, I think it would be unwise to count on getting into Otis School. Alameda is having a big problem with over-capacity issues right now, with the East End of the Island (where Otis is located) being hit in particular.
The school board recently (just 2 weeks ago) changed policy for incoming K students to give priority to siblings with students already enrolled in their home school and then if they are over- enrolled the rest of the K students will be chosen through a random drawing.
You can read more about the factors that go into how a child moves up in priority to get into an Alameda school on the AUSD website, but I think you should start researching other Island schools that don't have these capacity problems. Lum, Washington and Haight usually are where kids from Oakland get placed. Anon
We are parents of two young children and are house hunting in Alameda. I would appreciate any comments about Otis Elementary. I was under the impression that it is a good school, mostly by reviews and information given on greatschools.net. However a recent post to this BPN newsletter mentioned Otis as one of the schools ''to avoid''. I am surprised to hear this and would appreciate if anyone can elaborate on this. Thanks very much - any opinions positive or negative are very helpful.
soon to be Alamedan mom
We have been happy with Otis overall. It is a pretty traditional school. Our child has thrived academically and socially. There are great PE and Music teachers. The parents run an art docent program. You should go on one of the tours they offer this for new parents this month. Otis parent
I, too, was surprised to see that Otis was listed as a''try to avoid'' school. (It was interesting to see that the three other schools mentioned happen to have large populations of lower socioeconomic kids and more diverse populations. Hmmmmm). Otis is a very nice community of families. Many of the teachers have a great deal of experience too. There is a great playground with plenty of room. Music. P.E., Library and computer classes are part of the weekly program. (This is true of ALL Alameda schools). This comes from a teacher who has taught in the district for 16 years.... Anon
We have a child at Otis now. I would say that it depends on the teacher your child gets. Some seem to enjoy their job as a teacher, others seem to not like what they do. There are some nice staff people, a good music teacher, and a kind office receptionist. So, depending on what you are looking for, you could do well, or so-so. Go take a look there. If you post your email, I will email you so you can ask more questions. anon
Re: Thinking about moving from Lamorinda to Alameda
My son is entering 1st grade at Otis Elementary in Alameda. His kindergarten year the! re was great. Otis is in the east end of town and has a good reputation although it's not that one that people try to ''fake addresses'' and get their kids into (like Edison or Paden elem. on the Main Island or Earhardt and BayFarm Elem on Bay Farm Island) The administration, the teachers, his classmates, the facilities were all great at Otis elem.
Some parents may find the parental involvement to be somewhat lacking but it was just fine to us. Alameda schools have a lower per pupil expenditure because of the way property taxes were set up when Prop 13 went into effect. The community recently passed a parcel tax to help the school district but it is much lower than what nearby wealthier communities tax themselves so I assume Alameda schools have less in the way of the extras such as music, art, and sports. However, I believe that teachers and a student's home environment help kids the most. My sister's children went through Lum elem. and Wood middle school is Alameda (central part of the island). They were able to get into University High School which is a highly competitive private high school in San Francisco.
The ethnic and racial diversity that exists in Alameda schools is wonderful. So is the fact that we have neighborhood schools which means you can usually walk to the school from your house.Alameda is a great place for families. Best of luck to you. cseely
Re: Public vs. Private Schools in Alameda (Nov 2003)
We looked at both public and private schools. ... In the end we chose to enroll our daughter in our neighborhood school, Otis School. Although I found many of the private school tours very impressive, the commute, price and lack of economic diversity were strong negatives for me. Also, it is important to note that at some private schools class size is actually larger than at the public schools (if Alameda Unified School District can maintain the 20:1 student to teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grade). I was pleasantly surprised on the Otis tour and instantly felt it was the right place for my daughter. One of the things I liked about Otis was the separate kindergarten yard for recess. The class atmosphere seemed calm, which for my daughter seemed to be a big plus. The Principal, Katie Lyons, was articulate and knowledgeable in her responses to parent's questions.
For now, I believe we have made the right decision for our daughter. My daughter loves school and is learning academically and socially. I love being able to walk my daughter to and from school each day. I am impressed by the caliber of other parents and children I have met at Otis School. Just last week I was fortunate enough to see a really spectacular assembly at Otis School. Students from San Francisco's High School of the Arts performed for the Otis students. A parent of a second grader, Carrie Zinn, has organized the assemblies. Carrie, a dancer herself, has clearly used her contacts, time, experience and knowledge to benefit all of the students at Otis School.
I know how overworked, underpaid, overwhelmed teachers are. I could find things to criticize at my daughter's school but instead, I have taken the approach my parents modeled finding ways to help out at the school. When Alameda Unified School District extended the kindergarten day a few years ago, my first thought was the lunchroom. Yes, kindergartners (and their parents) can handle and may even benefit from a longer school day, but even first graders have a hard time in the lunchroom. Knowing that, I have committed myself to lunch duty at Otis School. It is not always my favorite time of day but I now know all of the kindergartners, have met many of the parents and feel I am helping out the school. I have provided my own paper, colored pencils etc. and set up an art area on the yard for the students. I also attended the Art Docent training at Otis School and go into my daughter 's classroom to teach an art lesson each month.
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