About Berkeley Public Schools (BUSD)
How It Works:
The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) assigns new K-8 students to schools based on the "zone" they live in. There are three zones in Berkeley, roughly three parallel strips stretching from the hills to the bay. BUSD created these zones in order to balance schools socio-economically by including both affluent families (in the hills) and middle-class and working-class families (in the flat lands). In each zone, there are 3-5 elementary schools and one middle school. All students attend Berkeley High School. To find out which zone you live in, see the District Map on the BUSD website.
For elementary school (K-5) you may request your top three choices in your zone, but ultimately, BUSD decides which school you are assigned to, based on the census tract you live in (income, education level, etc.). Once assigned to a school, you may request to be wait-listed at your preferred school, but there is no guarantee you will be assigned to a different school. See parent discussions about this.
- Intra-district transfers: There is very little chance of attending a school outside your zone except in rare cases where your desired zone is under-enrolled.
- Out-of-district transfers: Many Berkeley schools are over-enrolled so officially, BUSD accepts few transfers from other school districts.
See the Berkeley Unified School District webpage for information about how to enroll. For parents' advice and opinions, see below.
Pre-Schools and Pre-K
Frequently Asked Questions about Berkeley Schools
More Q&A about Berkeley Schools