Transferring into or out of the Berkeley School District

Parent Q&A

Interdistrict transfer to Berkeley High Feb 8, 2021 (3 responses below)
BUSD Inter-District Transfer Feb 28, 2019 (1 responses below)
Inter-district transfer questions Nov 6, 2016 (0 responses below)
Albany Unified School District Interdistrict Transfer Aug 4, 2016 (0 responses below)
  • Interdistrict transfer to Berkeley High

    (3 replies)

    how likely is it that my child from a neighboring affluent district be granted an interdistrict transfer in to Berkeley High for the 21/22 school year? We've got no circumstances (no job in Berkeley, none of her family went there, etc) that would put her in a position to be admitted over any others who were applying. She's having a rough time in her district with feeling very different and some bullying in the past. She wants to be somewhere else and her mental health is suffering. She comes to Berkeley and feels at home there. Thank you. 

    In the last year or two, everyone I know who applied on time to transfer from Albany to Berkeley was accepted. I think Berkeley is like a lot of districts with declining enrollment and associated budget problems, which usually makes districts more friendly to transfer.  What I don’t know is how the pandemic will affect this.  Districts will receive funds based on 2019-20 enrollment again next year but not after that, so I don’t know how long-term the thinking will be.  I also don’t know how the push to keep classes less crowded for covid safety will interact with the budgetary drive to raise enrollment.  

    I think it’s really hard to know. With COVID, BHS may have seen a drop in enrollment and might be granting them. BHS is so huge tho - 3200 kids - I don’t see her feeling more at home there. Just because she likes Berkeley doesn’t mean she’ll like Berkeley High. It’s a bit of a zoo. It can be really hard to find your place. I say this as a mom of a current BHS student. 

    Currently enrollment is down in BUSD schools. I think usually they are impacted so it seems that now would be a great time to try for an intradistrict transfer. 

  • BUSD Inter-District Transfer

    (1 reply)

    Hello all,

    I'm helping a family with the paperwork for BUSD inter-district transfer application process, and would love insight and advice from this community.  This little girl began in the BUSD district at 1.5 years years old in an early intervention program, and has been in the district ever since. She has major medical challenges, including over a dozen surgeries, ongoing speech therapy, and is currently working with the cranial-facial team at Kaiser. She has a group of friends in the BUSD that she has been in school with since kindergarten, who will all be moving on to Willard Middle School. The parents needed to move to Oakland for financial reasons, but are hoping to apply for an inter-district transfer to allow their daughter to remain in the BUSD and enter Willard Middle school with her cohort rather than put her through yet another emotionally challenging event like moving to a new school in the 6th grade, where she would know no one. Would love to hear from any parents who have navigated the inter-district transfer process at BUSD recently (At Willard Middle School in particular!), both about the process, and any advice they might have. Thank you!  

    RE: BUSD Inter-District Transfer ()

    I applied for and got an inter-district transfer for both of my BUSD kids after we had an owner-move-in eviction and had to leave Berkeley. I stressed over it so much! And then after months of fretting over trying to get guidance from the BUSD website I went to the Admissions office in person (and might have wept a little, full disclosure) and everyone was as nice as pie and I got great assistance/information. The district knows they are losing families to the housing crisis and I've been told (by a school board member) that one of the categories they consider when looking at interdistrict transfer requests these days is displacement due to housing expense. Also, for what it's worth, for other families facing this: after a year in BUSD with our transfers, we moved the kids into WCCUSD schools, where we now live, and they are doing just fine. For our middleschooler especially, Korematsu in El Cerrito has been way better than King was. Go figure!

  • Inter-district transfer questions

    (0 replies)

    We are Berkeley residents and our kids attend Berkeley public schools. We are considering moving out of Berkeley, but would like our kids to be able to finish out the school they've been attending (i.e. 3rd grader continue thru 5th grade, 6th grader continue thru 8th grade).  We plan to submit inter-district transfer requests, but are wondering about how reliable a plan this is.  

    Is there typically enough room in the Berkeley schools to grant most inter-district transfer requests? If not, roughly what portion of requests are denied based on lack of space?  Are Middle or High School transfers easier to obtain than Elementary School transfers? Do returning students receive any priority for transfers? Does the sibling of a returning student receive any priority for a transfer?  

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience berkeley-parent-hive-mind!

  • My husband and I have been looking to buy a house in Albany for the last year and haven't found one we like.  We are living in Albany and my son is currently at Marin Elementary.  We have looked at a few houses and love a house in Berkeley but not sure if we should put in a offer because my son really wants to stay in Marin Elementary.

    Does anyone have any advice about the likelihood of getting an interdistrict transfer from Berkeley to Albany.  Or if anyone has any advice about the best way to go about it would love to hear from you.


Archived Q&A and Reviews



We have a Berkeley address, but we pay taxes in Oakland

Dec 2012


i am seeking advice or comments regarding the petition process for attending a berkeley elementary school. we have a berkeley address, but we pay oakland taxes. when we moved to our house, i was told we could choose between berkeley and oakland schools. i don't think this is the case and don't want to use another address that is not our own. our closest neighborhood schools are berkeley schools. our community is in the berkeley schools, we could walk instead of driving, and we have been longtime berkeley residents (20 years) until moving to this house 2 years ago. i am hoping i might be able to petition for our child to attend one of the berkeley kindergartens, and am wondering if anyone has successfully done this, and would welcome any specific advice or recommendations for increasing the likelihood that it might work. we would be willing to start mid-year, to find out last-minute, etc. anonomous

I asked a similar question a couple years ago. I live near the Claremont Hotel where many homes have Oakland services but a Berkeley address. I have been very happy with our assigned neighborhood Oakland school, Kaiser.

Kaiser has API scores higher than Berkeley elementaries and has achieved California Distinguished School status. It is a manageable size and has a diverse student body, a charming facility, accomodating before and after school care, enrichment opportunities and a devoted parent base. Above all, it has dedicated teachers. The OUSD has significant challenges with its large and ecomomically disparate population, but this school works. It is where our taxes go. Those planning on private elementary education should also consider this fantastic school.

FYI, BUSD assignments are through a lottery based on zones, not convenience to your Berkeley address home. Berkeley address, Oakland services


Move to Oakland, Stay in Berkeley schools?

Aug 2009


We are in the process of looking for a small starter home to purchase, and although we don't want to leave Berkeley, we can't afford to buy here. We're considering moving to North Oakland (Temescal) where houses are more affordable, but are concerned b/c our children go to a BUSD elementary school that we love. My husband does work in Berkeley, so I've heard we can get an inter-district transfer. How successful are these? Could our children stay in their BUSD elementary school if we move to Oakland, or is there a chance they would be ''kicked out''? What are our chances of being allowed to attend a BUSD middle school or Berkeley high in the future if we move to Oakland? I've heard this is very possible, but would like to get more input from more people. We love Berkeley and feel very much a part of the community here, but are tired of paying rent when we could buy. Bye Bye Berkeley

It is quite difficult to obtain an inter district permit. They were once freely given, but because of pressure from Berkeley residents and the class size limit requirement, they are generally denied. You can always try. Deborah

Most telling in your post is your closing: ''We love Berkeley and feel very much a part of the community here, but are tired of paying rent when we could buy.'' The reality is that your higher expenses of living in Berkeley pay for that wonderful school you have your kids in. By moving to Oakland and keeping your kids in Berkeley schools, you are by-passing the funding of the education of your kids and foisting it on those of us who pay the property taxes that make Berkeley schools work better than those in your ''new'' neighborhood. As a person who would be paying high Berkeley property taxes for you to benefit from something you will no longer be paying into, I think you should suck it up and put your kids into your ''new'' city's schools and help make them the equivalent to Berkeley schools. -willingly struggling to keep Berkeley public schools so good

My advice? If you want to go to Berkeley schools and really feel part of the Berkeley community... either buy here or continue to pay rent to your landlord who is paying the property taxes that make the schools what they are. A Berkeley Parent and Taxpayer

We are trying to decide whether to stay in Berkeley or move somewhere else. Part of that decision is whether our kid could stay in the Berkeley public schools he attends. When I called the school district, they said that our kid could continue to attend his school if he weren't a problem student (basically). In addition, our younger kids could also go to the school he is going to. The woman also said that they could all continue to go all the way through high school. She said that of all the stuff she said, the last one was most likely to change.

This information is about a year old, and we didn't get it in writing or anything, so you might want to call the school district office and ask again.

You should think about making a donation to the school to help pay for things that additional property taxes do. Anon


Transfering from Albany to a Berkeley dual immersion program

Nov 2008


We are one block away from the Berkeley border, and would like to spread our options out a little more, and want to at least try for an inter-district transfer. Did you try it? Did it work? Any chance whatsoever of getting into a dual immersion program? We would be looking at Rosa Parks, Jefferson or Thousand Oaks, since those are the closest to our home of the BUSD schools. They also seem to offer a lot of after- school enrichment programs which Ocean View does not. And the school day is longer by at least an hour or so. Any insight?

Your chances of getting into the dual immersion program are slim to none if you are an inter-district transfer and your child is not primarily Spanish speaking. Also, you would not have first choice of schools and your child may be assigned to a school on the other side of town. Also, your child's space in a Berkeley school is not guaranteed from year to year (as I understand it - check with Francisco at the BUSD placememnt office).

So, go for it if you want, but at your kid's age, having a great elementary school that they can walk to with their friends may be WAY more important than driving them everyday to a school across town (even if it does provide a longer day). Also note that the Albany elementary schools (I believe) have before and/or afterschool care for kindergarteners. Anon


Transferring to a Berkeley middle school from another district

Nov 2006


I would like to know about the public middle schools in Berkeley, especially King Jr. School. We live in a different school district but are thinking of transferring our 5th grade son. I work in Berkeley, and maybe there is a chance of being accepted (?). If anyone knows something, even just a little bit about schools' curriculum, teachers, students, etc., I would really appreciate if you can share it with me. Thank you.
one mom

If you send your out-of-district child to the Berkeley schools, you should consider making a substantial donation to the PTA. One reason the Berkeley schools are more ''desirable'' is that they are better funded, because of many years of extra taxes, and serious PTA fundraising. This is a separate pot of money than the money that comes from the state for each student. Since it is a property-tax, more students mean that the money needs to be divided more ways. So, when out-of-district parents send their children to the Berkeley schools, if they can, they should help make up this difference. Of course, this would be different if the whole East Bay were funding the Berkeley Schools.

King in Berkeley is considered to be a good middle school. Most folks who have public school elementary kids in the King zone are very glad to send their kids there. My friends who have or have had their children at King like it very much. I hear the principal is great I understand that the classes are strong, that 6th grade starts earlier than other grades, that 6th grade kids go from class to class together in a group, that the food/garden class is amazing, that the math program is very good. Some kids who were in dual immersion in elementary school opt to send their kids to Longfellow Middle School as it has a dual immersion emphasis for a portion of its classes. Folks whose children go there say great things about it, too. I do not know much about Willard. There may be a growing trend in the Berkeley School District to take a closer look at transfers into the district and into verifying addresses, especially as kids enter Middle School and High School. It was a big item during this fall's campaign. So if you want to try to transfer in to BUSD above board, then go ahead and work with your home district and BUSD to try it. I do not recommend trying to sneak a kid in under a false address cuz, as I said above, things are likely to get far more intense very soon with address checks. You may not want to subject your child to that. However, if your child does get in, please make sure you contribute a bunch of money to your school and/or the district since you will not be paying the higher Berkeley taxes. Thanks in advance for doing your share! signed - Berkeley resident, tax payer, BUSD PTA contributer, and ''Yes on A'' campaign contributer.

In response to the question about middle schools in Berkeley; I have taught at two of them and know teachers at all three. In general, the teaching staff at the middle level in Berkeley is exceptional in terms of the level of professionalism, dedication and heart. But, it can be hit or miss with classes because there is a significant percentage of the student population that can be difficult and disruptive. If the teacher is skilled at managing behavior, the class will run smoothly and learning can take place. If the teacher struggles with this, and it can be challenging depending on the mix of students in the class, learning can still take place, but the student will have to work harder at it (to ignore distractions and peer pressure to fit in.) After 10 years in the district, I am thinking of moving on because I am tired of dealing with the negative behaviors and I would send my son to private middle school rather than expose him to some of the more outrageous behaviors that he will inevitably see in some of his classes in public school, Berkeley included. That being said I know lots of students who do well, go on to do well in high school and college. I guess I am just biased because after all of these years, I find the negative behaviors to be pretty discouraging and would rather have my own child surrounded by polite and respectful peers. On the other hand, it is a slice of the real world and I haven't really witnessed anything that would make me feel that a child would be physically unsafe at either King or Longfellow.

There is a misconception that King is the place to be. Check out the other middle schools as well. In my opinion there is not an appreciable difference between King and Longfellow. King MAY have a slightly more cohesive teaching staff, but Longfellow has many dedicated teachers and is smaller which, to me, gives it a more respectful feel amongst the students and teachers really communicate across subject areas there. I don't know as much about Williard but have met many great teachers there. I think King, being in north Berkeley has acquired this great reputation, but in my opinion this is based on either subtle racism or "classism". I just don't see the difference between the schools. King does have a fantastic cooking and garden program, thanks to Alice Waters, but Longfellow has a nice program as well.

The curriculum in the Berkeley schools is great, from what I can see and rivals that of any private school; it may even be better than at some schools ( for example, I visited St. Paul's school and felt the curriculum did not appear to be as dynamic as that in the Berkeley middle schools). So, that is not the issue. For me it is ALL about the social atmosphere, not the academics. And the social atmosphere is mixed.
Hope this is helpful.


Transferring from Berkeley to Albany

Oct 2004


I live in Berkeley but my son is enrolled in Albany preschool. A friend told me that, b/c he's already in a preschool in Albany, it would be possible to enroll him in Albany public schools. I went to Oakland/Berkeley public schools myself, and have mixed feelings about leaving Berkeley, but I've heard great things about Albany public schools. Any thoughts on this, or advice about what I'd need to do exactly to get into Albany rather than Berkeley schools? He will probably start kindergarten next year. Thanks! Katie

We transfered from Berkeley to Albany, and our daughter attended kindergarten in Albany. From our experience, the Albany schools are mediocre, at best. The Berkeley teachers seem much more inspired, have many more resources (the Albany schools are broke and receive little government funding), and more academic. Our daughter literally did not learn anything in kindergarten, and all of her Berkeley friends seemed to learn a lot more in kindergarten. I was not impressed at all. Yes, the Albany schools have high test scores, but this is NOT because of amazing teaching. It is because Albany typically has more middle class students, which is reflected in the test scores. Berkeley schools have a lot of parent involvement, more activities (art, music, and so on), and more resources. Also, it is wonderful for your child to go to the same school as his neighbors. If we could do it over again, I would. We did not send our second child to Albany schools, and transfered our daughter out of Albany in second grade (happily). I know it is scary, but I would at least try Berkeley for a year and see what you think. Also, Albany kindergarten is only three hours, and the aftercare for kindergarten is $500/month. If you are a working parent, this is something to consider. give berkeley a try.

Before you spend too much time worrying about whether to send your child to an Albany school, make sure you even have a choice. Your friend was misinformed: it is no longer the case that a child can get into an Albany elementary school just because he or she was in Albany Preschool. M.M.


Using the Allen Bill to transfer to Berkeley schools

I have called the Berkeley School District re the idea that if one works in Berkeley, one can send one's children to the Berkeley public schools. This is unfortunately not exactly true. There's something called the "Allen Bill" that says people should be able to put their children in school near where they work. However, Berkeley doesn't fall under that since the district feels that any child from anywhere should be able to attend the Berkeley Schools (whether their parents work here or not). However, the catch is that you must get an "interdistrict permit" (which I'm told is easy to get) and then APPLY to the BUSD. For Kindergarden, and maybe some of the lower grades, this would be IMPOSSIBLE since the classes are so full from class-size reduction. (Smaller classes, but a shortage of teachers and classrooms.) It has been several years since they accepted a single out-of-district kindergardener. Leah



Transferring from WCC to Berkeley schools

July 2002


I would like some advice about the ease or dificulty of transferring from one school district to another. My 4 year old who will be attending elementary school in one year, but I would actually like for her to attend school in Berkeley which is closer to work for me. It would be so much easier for me to take her to school and pick her up. Traffic is so bad along I- 80 in the afternoons, I doubt very much that I would make it int time anywhere. I live in Hercules, and would be transferring from the West Contra Cost School District. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is this even possible? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. jeannette

To the mom asking for advice on transferring out of district. I currently have my daughter transferred out of WCCUSD into Oakland Unified for the same reason - work is closer and after school care is easier. What you need to do first is contact the Transfer Office in Richmond at (510) 620-2124 to get the necessary forms sent to you. The folks at this number in my experience have been very helpful. Be sure to explain that you need to obtain the forms to be released out of district. For me the realease out has been relatively easy and hassle-free, but it is a little inconvenient to have to renew the request each year. Be sure to contact Berkeley Unified and ask what you will need outside of the transfer request (proof of employment, etc) when you submit your forms. If you already know which school you want to attend, talk to the principal about your plans and see if s/he thinks you have a good chance to get in to that particular school. My advice would be to check out at LEAST 3 schools and rank them so that you have some choices to fall back on. Remember there is no guarantee that you will be allowedd in to BUSD. WCCUSD may be very willing, but BUSD may not. Be prepared. This is where your challenge may be. A transfer mom of 2