Q&A about San Leandro Public Schools
I suggest checking out San Leandro Unified. It's a smaller district and their reputation isn't great compared to Castro Valley or Alameda, but some of the schools there are gems -- diverse and very caring (to me the Great Schools ratings are more a reflection of this diversity, rather than instructional quality). I know a couple of parents whose kids have IEPs, and the district tries their best to get kids the services they need.
Welcome to the Bay Area! I know you asked about Oakland, but wanted to offer up north San Leandro (just off of I-580) as another option. There's a BART station downtown and express buses to SF. Two neighborhoods in particular -- Estudillo Estates and Broadmoor -- have charming houses that are more affordable than Oakland, nice community, and tremendous ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity (more so, in my opinion, than many parts of Oakland with the "good" schools). There are a couple of neighborhood schools that serve those neighborhoods: Roosevelt and Washington. Roosevelt is the better performing school (in terms of test scores, which of course aren't the whole story) and is very culturally and ethnically diverse, with fantastic parent involvement (PTA, Dad's Club, LGBTQ association, etc). I've also heard good things about Washington Elementary, though historically their test scores have been low, but this is due to the linguistic/ethnic diversity of the school (which is also one of its best assets, IMO). In terms of community, the neighborhood is generally walkable, with some restaurants nearby (though you'd definitely have to drive 10 mins to Oakland for more exciting fare) and a fantastic coffeehouse/neighborhood meeting spot, Zocalo. The SL library is awesome, and there are a lot of new/young families moving in who were priced out of SF/Berkeley. Alameda is also a nice option with good schools, but much pricier. Good luck on your move!
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Questions & Advice
We've had a terrible last two years, with both me and husband having periods of unemployment, health issues, and losing our house. Somehow, we have managed to pay for tuition for our daughter's private school. By now, we thought our ''temporary'' rental apartment in San Leandro would have become a more permanent rental in a better school district. I fear that our daughter will end up going to San Leandro public schools for middle school in the Fall. How good or bad are middle schools here? Should we try getting an inter-district transfer? I feel so foolish for being in this situation. We've always prioritized her education, but we can't keep paying for her school privately and we may not be able to get a rental we can afford in time. Please, can someone help guide the way? Buckling under the strain
I have lived and worked in San Leandro for the past 20+ years. My 17 year old son is a junior at SLHS. He attended Bancroft Middle School. I am a Board member of the San Leandro Education Foundation.
My experience is that the schools in San Leandro are very good. Some schools and some teachers are better than others but what else is new? That is true in public and private school. My son had a tough time at Bancroft Middle School partly due to hormones (it is a tough time for all young people) and partly due to inconsistent classroom management. Yes, the school is big and there are a lot of kids that need a lot of additional support. There are also a lot of great teachers and administrators who really care about the kids. There are LOTS of amazing kids in this community and the public schools are worth investing in!
The experience of being in a rich and diverse community has been a huge benefit for my son. I know that learning to work with a big range of people with different families, cultures, and experiences will serve him throughout his life.
If your daughter is advanced make sure you advocate for her to get into classes with teachers that support her development. Getting into Band or Orchestra is also very important - most of the students focused on their academics are also in Band or Orchestra.
Providing a rich, diverse, safe, and stimulating environment is always a parent's responsibility regardless of the school environment. I recommend getting involved in the PTA, School Site Council, and SLED (San Leandro Education Foundation) - public schools are the infrastructure of our democracy! They need all of us! Good luck!! Dawn V
My wife and I are expecting our first child in a few months and are also looking to move to San Leandro sooner than that. I was wondering if anyone knows anything about Washington Elementary School in San Leandro or any preschools as well. Thank you. Kevin
We live in the Washington Elementary neighborhood in San Leandro and my son will be entering first grade there in the fall. Although many neighborhood families do not give the school a chance, there is a growing committed and active parent group and a wonderful new principal that are moving the school in a good direction. As an educator who is familiar with the pressures that low performing public schools face, I was anxious about our decision to send my son there, but he had a wonderful kindergarten year. The school already has a lot to offer and is only getting better. Please contact me with any specific questions. Daniela
I wanted to respond to the question about San Leandro elementary schools. The most popular and best performing one is Roosevelt. My daughter starts kindergarten there this fall and I have heard nothing but good things about it. San Leandro schools are location specific and from what I understand it is dificult to transfer indue to its popularity, I just lucked out when I rented a house as I had not really planed that far ahead. As for preschool I have her at Camelot which is right over the border in Castro Valley and have been very happy with it although it is not the least expensive. Lambz
I have 5 year old starting school in September. He is schedule for McKinley. Does anyone have experience with other private or public schools in San Leandro? I would appreciate any recommendations. Thanks! Melinda
Check out Beacon in Oakland. Many San Leandro families go there. It is fantastic. Anon
I'm interested in knowing what parents' experiences have been with public schools in San Leandro, good, bad and otherwise. Are there good resources for gifted / academically inclined and achieving students? Are music and art part of the elementary school experience? Is there a lot of parent involvement and do the schools cultivate and promote it? Do the schools celebrate and embrace diversity? Since I know very little, any and all input would be appreciated. Potential SL school parent
We live San Leandro and our two boys go to Garfield Elementary. We've been very pleased with the public school experience. Garfield is the only year-round school in the district (though news has it that the year-round calendar may be on the budget cut hit list for next year). It is also the only elementary school with a uniform code, albeit ''casual'' and voluntary. Why? Because the parents at the school came up with the ideas and worked to make them happen.
The principal and teachers are great! I swear the principal knows every single one of the 400 kids by name. My son's 2nd grade teacher left Head-Royce to teach at Garfield because she wanted more diversity. My other son's 4th grade teacher has a classroom full of reptiles, frogs and fish - and the kids love learning in ''The Zoo.'' This same son started 1st grade in the special ed program there - and is now doing 6.6 grade level math and 4.5 grade level reading in regular ed. I credit the wonderful staff at this school for helping him with his success. The school received a $100,000 3-yr grant, which they use to fund afterschool sports/enrichment programs, homework clubs and parent education events. There's a music program for all - and 5th graders can learn an instrument if they wish.
The parents are very generous with classroom activities (ie., donations, fieldtrips, etc.) - though I have to admit PTA meetings are sparsely attended (guilty). Three years ago, the school received state-wide recognition for the gain it made in test scores, which is particularly noteworthy because the school has a large population of non-native English speaking students.
I've thought about exploring private schools, but every time I go down the list of things I'd look for - I find that I already have it. Of course, what one values in a school experience is quite a personal matter and experiences/opinions differ. These are mine. Good luck as you explore your options. jj
I have two children at Roosevelt, K and 3rd grade, and we have been very happy with the school. We have a very active PTA which has just launched a ''capital campaign'' to raise money for a whole host of improvements. Check recent articles in the san leandro times.
To find out more, you can join the following district-wide discussion list: http://www.topica.com/lists/SLUSDTalk I will warn you though that there are some nasty folks there and the discussion is sometimes contentious.
Regarding the GATE program, here is how it works. The district assesses students in the 3rd and 5th grades (I don't know about after elementary school); however, it takes most of the money it gets and spends it on teacher training to teach ''differentiated curriculum''. What this means is that they don't pull-out gifted students (note that ''talented'' is ignored) for extra classes. The good part of this is that all students benefit and that gifted students are accomodated starting in the young grades even before they've been identified as such. My son's teacher recently showed me the types of extra math problems she was assigning to him and 3 other top students. There's a staggared reading program in grades 1-3 and the children are divided into spelling, reading, and math groups at their level. The kindergarten curriculum has been revamped for the better, IMO, though the tracking doesn't begin until first grade.
The school is multi-cultural and multi-culturally aware. There's a good blend of hispanic, black, asian and white students. We're Jewish and have never had a ''December dilemma'' issue. In fact, I've twice invited my son's classes for a field trip to our Sukkah in the fall and they've eagerly taken advantage of the opportunity.
The school district was in a financial crisis a few years ago and so music and art have suffered- though they're there.
Regarding other schools in the district, I can only report what I've heard. Washington elementary has a lot of problems and I know several families who've pulled their kids out. There's a charter school that was started by disaffected families, but they are having problems. I think they're going to try to go through the San Lorenzo district next year. The folks I've known who've liked Washington were in the bi-lingual program. I've heard good things about Jefferson, Garfield, Monroe and Madison.
We've heard mostly good things about Bancroft middle school, but we know one family that pulled their son out, homeschooled and then sent him to private school. The High School has a lot of problems, the main one being that it's overcrowded. I've heard that kids who take the honors and AP classes thrive while everyone else is ''left behind'' (pardon the expression). We plan to do some thinking once we get to that stage.