About El Cerrito Public Schools

Parent Q&A

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  • Where I grew up all kids elementary to high school got bussed to school.  I know there’s public transportation but elementary school kids can’t ride alone. Seems like a big burden on parents and creates unnecessary traffic. Is this a budget issue? My kid will go to Madera and we live down the hill, there’s no way to walk Potrero every day with a 5 year old and a stroller. 

    Yes, it is a statewide budget issue. When Proposition 13 passed in 1978, it fundamentally changed California school funding, and school transportation was among the things that was cut. Today, most districts only provide busing if it is required by a student's IEP for Special Education or if students live in rural areas with no other way to get to school. A few districts--most notably Berkeley in the East Bay--opt to pay for busing themselves for other reasons. (In Berkeley, it allows the district to have more income-diverse schools by having broader school attendance zones.) But it's less feasible in larger districts like OUSD or WCCUSD that cover large expanses of land. AC Transit does run buses to middle and high school students and deeply discounts student fares, so once kids are old enough, there are at least some options, but it's one (of many) unfortunate losses in California's woefully underfunded public school system.

  • Hello,

    I am unsure about what to think about the El  Cerrito public schools.  I am in Kensington and love it here, but I want to figure out if we need to move because of public schools.  Can people give me their opinions about the El Cerrito middle school and high school? Thanks so much!

    What are you looking for in a school? Test scores are only one indication which you can look up. Otherwise it might depend on your child or what you’re looking for. How old is your child? Middle and high school may be quite different in 8-12 years if you have a little one.  

    Although it has been a few years since my daughter graduated, she had very good experiences at both the El Cerrito middle and high schools. She participated in music, dance, cross country and soccer, as well as various clubs and advanced and AP classes. When she started 7th grade, she noticed right away that the former Kensington Hilltop students were ahead academically, but after a few months students from all the feeder schools had all reached about the same level. I'm not sure what your concern is...academics, safety? My child never felt that academic challenge was not available, and also never felt unsafe. Each year former Kensington 7th graders present a panel to answer questions from parents about Korematsu, maybe check when that is and hear for yourself from the actual students. 

    Nobody "needs" to move because of schools. Previous posters gave good advice about it will depend on how old your child is now. Wait until you get closer and then evaluate for yourself based on your family's priorities. There's lots of good private middle/high schools within commute distance if you end up not liking the EC options. We sent our kids to the local EC elementary school then went elsewhere for middle/high school currently, and that was the right decision for us, but we are not you. As part of your research, check Insta/Twitter/TikTok for "____ school" and see what comes up, as well as google crime at "_____ school".

  • I'm considering renting a house located in the Madera Elementary district boundaries in El Cerrito. My daughter is only 3.5 right now but a major consideration for us is being in a good school district once she's 5 (we're currently in Emeryville and the school here is supposedly not good, and we need a bigger place anyway). I'm hearing that WCCUSD is basically a lottery system for enrollment and you could easily not get into the school in your district. I've only lived in the Bay Area for a few years and this concept is absolutely ridiculous to me and unheard of virtually anywhere else in the country. How do you even get transport to some other random school in the district far from where you may live, guess it's just on you? I'm curious how bad the situation is at Madera and if we got her enrolled the minute it started for the next school year, how likely is it that we will actually get a spot there nowadays? A lot of the posts I saw were from 2014 or earlier. Thanks in advance for any insights.

    The elementary schools in El Cerrito are really fairly comparable and very very close in proximity. Madera has highest "ratings" but all are pretty great so you can't go wrong if you end up at Harding or Fairmount. Some kids end up at Kensington Hilltop too if one of the El Cerrito schools are full. You only go into the lottery if you move into the area after school has started and if there is no space in your local school. Otherwise you will almost certainly end up in your zoned school or in an El Cerrito school which, again, are not far. For context, my kid is zoned for Madera which requires a drive from our home but we could easily walk to Harding or Fairmount. (She actually goes to the district Mandarin school in Pinole which does have a local bus option for her). This past year I don't know of anyone who did not get into their local school for Kindergarten (but that's just in my circle of friends of whom there are many new Kindergarteners in El Cerrito). 

    That's not entirely true for your home school. There is a lottery/waitlist system, but it's for transferring. Our neighborhood school was another El Cerrito school for my daughter's kindergarten (in 2019) and we got into that school along with all of our neighbors, but wanted to transfer into Kensington (we were right on the border for the two schools) so we got on the waitlist for transferring. We were somewhere around 30th on the list, and I checked in several times and no one moved off the wait list and into that school. I inquired about the Madera list too, and was told the same thing- the school was full with Madera district people, and their wait list was even longer.

    Now that was for kindergarten, as my daughter was not born in the right months to qualify for TK. If you have a TK kid, it's crazy and good luck. The enrollment fills in minutes.

    For what it's worth, we just left WCCUSD to move into a better nearby district and more space too.

    We live in the neighboring area and send our daughter to Mira Vista which is our neighborhood school. it wasn't a lottery, just based on our location. I know we are Richmond and Madera is El Cerrito so not sure how different it is. We love the teachers and community at Mira Vista.

    WCCUSD is not a lottery system; there are zones for neighborhood schools. I do know sometimes the schools may fill up and your kid may end up being assigned to a different nearby school, but I believe it’s first come first served for your neighborhood school.

    WCCUSD is not a lottery system; there are neighborhood schools based on address. While they can't say you're 100% guaranteed to get your neighborhood school because some years there are more siblings and kids moving in, you're very likely to get assigned to your neighborhood school. You do have to "apply" so there is some waiting involved, but my understanding and experience is that most people get assigned to their neighborhood school. You can see the map on the WCCUSD website to understand the boundaries for each school.

    My sense is that if you register on time, you will likely get your neighborhood school. I don't know anyone that didn't. Perhaps TK was the only instance I've heard of where people may not have gotten a spot.

    But if you didn't, there generally isn't transportation provided by the district. 

    Another option in the district that does have transportation (at a cost) is the West County Mandarin School. It's in Pinole but has a bus that picks up in El Cerrito and Richmond (at the old WCMS site, the Serra Campus). To go there, you apply to your neighborhood school and then apply for a transfer. That said, WCMS has had a waiting list the past few years and likely will be a lottery in future years. Great school, though! We love it.

    Thanks everyone for your replies, still a little confusing but it sounds like we would most likely get the spot. We lost out on the original house but happened to find another also in the Madera district (there really aren't a lot of rental properties to chose from so this is just coincidence) that we will now get. Looks like we just barely scrape by not needing TK since her birthday is in mid-August. Good to hear it would be another school elsewhere in El Cerrito at least if she did get waitlisted. I guess I'll put registration day in my calendar 1.5 years in advance!

  • Hi everyone, this is my first time posting on BPN. My family is moving from the East Coast to the Bay Area in July, and we are planning on living in El Cerrito.

    My son is going into 1st grade, and I'm finding the school enrollment process confusing. I am lucky at the moment to have a choice between two rentals, one zoned for Fairmont and one for Harding. I know Fairmont has a waitlist currently, but it's unclear if Harding does. Does anyone have a sense of which one is more likely to be able to accept a late registrant this year? And do the schools give preference to students living in their neighborhood zone, even if they've been registered late? 

    Just for some context -- all of El Cerrito's schools sound great, as does Mira Vista. I am a little nervous about being assigned Stege, which I have not heard great things about (but I am open to correction on that point). And the hill schools (Madera, Kensington, Mira Vista) are going to be tough to get to, since I am unable to drive.

    Many thanks for your thoughts.

    An early welcome to the area! I am also an East Coast transplant and have been here since 2005. Love it here!

    We live beside Stege and although we have no school aged children at the time, I second the opinion of no to Stege. It’s quite sad but it is really under resourced  and I would not want to recommend it to someone new to the area and is one of the reasons we want to move to an area where we can get into Fairmount or Mira Vista when the time comes. Best of luck to you!!!

    You should snap up the rental you like best. It's too tough to predict what actual enrollment will be for Fall 2021 at any public school, especially at WCCUSD. Just sign your lease, move in, complete the school registration for your assigned site, and stay agnostic. Don't expect to have a confirmed slot anywhere until maybe the last business day before school starts - it will be an exercise in staying flexible and patient.

    It's not that Stege is a bad school as far as I know, it's that Stege's catchment area is very low-income. The district has been putting a lot of resources into that school. That said, I am not aware of them ever diverting a student who otherwise would be going to Fairmont or Harding, to Stege. Typically Fairmont overflow gets assigned to Harding. Again, this is not likely to be a predictable fall season so try not to stress and just get happy with your living situation.

    I am a Harding parent and I love our school and teachers, and we have a diverse community which I value.  I have also heard great things about Fairmont -- I think both will work just fine for you. I did just hear as of today that there are 1-2 slots per grade at Harding.  Good luck! 

    We had planned on sending our child to a private school this fall but recently decided to go with our local school (Harding). We registered about two weeks ago and were immediately told he would have a spot (within about an hour, via email). I also called to confirm and the school administrator who I spoke with was very kind and welcoming. I would recommend calling both schools and asking about availability, but Harding definitely seemed to still have some and I was told that the plan was to be fully back to in-person schooling for the fall. I know people with kids at both Harding and Fairmount, and they have great things to say about both of them. Welcome to the neighborhood! I agree with the other commenter that you should go with the rental you prefer. Without a car, BART and Plaza proximity would also be a big consideration if I were you. 

  • We’re looking to purchase a home in El Cerrito and are wondering about folks’ experiences with the elementary schools. We’d prefer Harding but almost nothing comes up for sale in the area (and as a consequence these homes are mostly outside our budget). Any reason to try to end up in Madera rather than Fairmount, or same difference? Thanks!

    Current parent at Harding here. Harding is great, but you should look at the upcoming WCCUSD budget crisis of $47.5 million dollars. Next year the district plans on laying off hundreds of teachers, administrators, and classified staff (159 teachers at the K-8 level alone). All three schools you mentioned are in WCCUSD, and all district schools will be affected. Of the 3 schools, Madera is the highest-rated and offers the most enrichment activities (only behind Kensington out of all the schools in the district), funded by the PTA. Harding ranks below Madera in terms of school scores, with Fairmount below that. Hopefully, if Measure R passes, Fairmount will be remodeled soon, as it's overdue for a rebuild and not earthquake safe. 

    Here is some information from the Board Meeting: https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/SB_Meetings/ViewMeeting.aspx?S=36030…;

    Note from Superintendent Duffy: https://www.wccusd.net/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=1&ModuleInstanceID=21184&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=65075&PageID=1 

    I'm not saying you shouldn't move here, but you wouldn't want to be surprised about the big changes coming to the district. 

    Unfornuantely, although you are "assigned" to a school based on your house location, there is still no guarantee that you will get into that school.  You still have to apply to your neighborhood school in El Cerrito/Richmond, and schools fill up fast.  Applicaiton dates need to be followed very carefully and getting in gets even trickier after K or mid-year.  Be mindful about dates and know you will have to start the process about a year in advance.  I also know that they are reducing class size and the number of children that enter EC schools starting next year, based on the crushing WCCUSD budget deficit.  All that grim news being said, we are currently at Fairmont and like it so far.  The teachers are amazing and the Afterschool program is fabulous.  The PTA and parent culture is a work in process at Fairmont but moving in the right direction.  Honestly all the the EC schools are great.  I also hear wonderful things about Mira Vista (in Richmond).  I think to have a worthwhile experience in general at any of the EC schools, parents need to be very involved and engaged and to advocate for your child(ren).  Good luck!  

    They are all wonderfully diverse, excellent schools with great principals and great offerings. Welcome!

    The first post says Fairmont is not earthquake safe, which is false. I don't know why they would say that. It is definitely not new construction, as we know well from our seven years there, but its facility problems do not include seismic. The way you phrase your question does not make your priorities clear with your educational needs. Each school has its pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. But people whose kids have not attended it are really not the best people to weigh in on a given school's merits.

    Aside from that, I concur that overall if you are looking at buying now for K next year, you may want to carefully consider the impact of the school district budget - yes, layoff notices will be sent but we don't know how many will be rescinded. However there are obviously going to be classroom impacts in WCCUSD... and OUSD... and MDUSD... and beyond. We all need to advocate for equitable funding for public education in CA, and more than ever public school parents need to STEP UP to participate in their child's education.

  • Hello - in researching elementary schools in El Cerrito on BPN I came across a posting from a family who lived in El Cerrito but was on the waitlist for kindergarten for their zoned elementary school (Harding). Perhaps I misunderstood the situation, but can anyone help me understand how elementary school placement works in El Cerrito? Are you not placed in your zoned neighborhood school? Thanks in advance. 

    If you complete the enrollment on time (early January of each year for the coming fall), the child should get placed in his/her zoned school. I was surprised as well by someone who said they were on the waiting list. Maybe they enrolled late?

    WCCUSD has neighborhood schools. If your friend's child was placed on a waitlist, they may have enrolled late, after all the slots were filled. Register your child on the first day of registration (usually in mid-January) and you should be good to go!

    You will get your zoned school as long as there is room. There isn't always room though. Get your registration information in asap.

    We got our zoned school for kindergarten but then moved into a different zone for second grade and were put on the wait list. My daughter started at our neighborhood school on day 4 of the school year. She went to her old school for the first three days. It wasn't ideal but it was worth it.

    What you need to do is stalk your neighborhood school's website to figure out when registration is and then get there early on that day with all of the required documents.

    Schools work on a first-come first-serve basis. So if they are put on the waiting list, you should inquire where they could transfer to. If they are not able to be placed in their zoned school, you can request a transfer to another school within the district.

    You have to go the the Harding office and register/enroll your child. It is first come first served and the number of people lined up varies from year to year.  The year that I enrolled my Daughter I was about 5th in line and it was very calm. Recent years have been more competitive. Call the office and ask them what they're expecting this year. As an additional tip - do not assume that any siblings will automatically be enrolled in future years. You have to go down and enroll them also. 

    Harding has been a great school and we're all looking forward to Korematsu. 

    If you register early on "registration day", you should not have any problems.  Try to be there early and have all your documents in order.  Copies of documents are not accepted. 

    The people that I know that did not get in their zoned school was because they registered late (months past registration day).  

    WCCUSD had neighborhood schools so in theory if you show up early on registration day (usually in January) you can enroll. Note you need to come early - parents at our school (Madera) line up as early as 6:00am to register their Kindergarteners!

    The reason for waitlist though is that there are currently more school-age children in El Cerrito than school spots, especially in K-3 (which have smaller class sizes). A few years ago El Cerrito closed an elementary school (Castro) to build the new middle school on that site. The Castro enrollment area was divided between the other three schools. At the time there was a smaller number of children in city. 

    Well those demographics have changed with an influx of new families. As far as I know, Harding is the only EC Elementary that is not above 100% capacity. Madera and Fairmont both  have more families in their enrollment areas then they can accommodate, hence the waitlists. It's an issue that will have to be addressed as more families move to El Cerrito, and the city encourages denser housing development along the transit corridor.

    Enroll early and have all your paperwork ready! That's the best you can do.

My daughter is Black-white biracial and attended El Cerrito public schools. El Cerrito public schools are actually more diverse than Berkeley. El Cerrito High School is the #4 most diverse high school in California, while Berkeley High is #116. She had a good education and is doing very well in college. There were opportunities for arts and advanced academics throughout elementary, middle and high school. Among the elementary schools, Harding and Fairmont are more diverse than Madera and Kensington. I will note, however, that it seemed my meeting the her teachers (at all school levels) helped her get taken more seriously as a student; I am hoping that is not just because I am white but I suspect in some cases it is. I noticed several talented non-white students who should have been encouraged and given the confidence to take more demanding classes. My daughter learned how to advocate for herself, which I think helped her get additional challenges. One more thing, West Contra Costa does have a Mandarin immersion school, https://wcmspta.org/.

We are an interracial family,  live in El Cerrito and LOVE it.  My oldest is in first grade at Fairmont Elementary, where there is a HUGE diversity of students - Latino, Chinese, Nepali, Black, White, etc.  I haven't asked but would guess that many of the families are Muslim.  Several speak Urdu.  We have an annual multicultural community potluck/performance/celebration - the diversity is what many of our families love about Fairmont.

Obviously my kids are much younger than yours, but I have read recently that Korematsu Middle School is the 6th most diverse school in California.  In terms of ratings, Fairmont, Korematsu, and El Cerrito High are all rated a 6.  Harding Elementary, also in El Cerrito, is a 7.  I think these lower ratings may have to do with having a high population of English Language Learners, as all the parents I've spoken with are very satisfied with the academics.  

Close by, Kensington and Berkeley schools have 8+ greatschools ratings, and Albany, right next door, has 10 for all their schools.  I don't know anything about their diversity.

Good luck in your search!  Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.  And I'll be curious to hear what you decide!


I know you asked about Albany, but El Cerrito schools Harding, Fairmont, Korematsu and ECHS are so diverse that there is no majority ethnicity (a rarity nationwide in districts with neighborhood schools). Not to say that racism in some form can't happen anywhere no matter how diverse; my non-white child has not experienced racism, sexism or bullying in 17 years of El Cerrito schools. Also, a successful student will likely be successful anywhere, don't think you need to choose schools based on test scores (I think less diverse schools may have higher test scores). ECHS has many UC-bound students and great music, dance and debate programs, and a lot more.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


New to El Cerrito - Junior High and Elementary

Nov 2011

We're moving to El Cerrito within the next week or so from San Francisco, and I've been reading things here and there about the middle school and elementary schools. The elementary school closest to our home would be Madera. The fact that we are entering mid year makes me nervous that there will not be a spot available for our 4th grader. If there happens to not be an available spot for him at Madera, what happens next? They are coming from small private schools in SF so this will be a big change for them both. I'd like to keep him at Madera or Kensington if possible. Also, I've heard such mixed reviews about Portola Junior High - some good, some bad, (it seems HUGE!) and also have heard that there is a new campus going up? Can anyone clarify when this will happen or if it's started already? Please share your experiences with either school with me, as well. I'm interested to know! Thanks! New Resident of El Cerrito

Welcome to El Cerrito! We love it. Great community, wonderful local park and pool, great community center with lots of activities, great sport programs....

Madera is great; so is Kensington. A word of warning: A local private school has come upon very difficult times, and a number of students have left for the public schools. I believe Madera is currently full, as are the other elementary schools. Do call and see. If your local, neighborhood school is full, you can receive an interdistrict transfer to another El Cerrito school.

Portola Middle School . PLEASE do not believe the rumors and dated ''facts'' about the school. Portola is very small (currently there are only 472 students); in fact, it is much smaller than the local elementary schools! It only has 7th and 8th grades. There is a new principal (excellent), dedicated teachers (small teaching staff), and the students are very sweet. There has been a recent surge of local families opting out of private school and dedicated to sending their children to our local middle school. The school is very much ''up and coming,'' and is worth a second look. There are many professional families there, and we have found the teaching and learning this year to be excellent (certainly as good as the local private schools, to be sure).

The one thing we cannot control is class size (rather large), but we are working on it!

Good luck in your move, and we hope to see you in our local public schools! It Takes A Village (and we welcome you)

Welcome to El Cerrito! Madera is a ''great'' public school, but that does not mean it works for everyone or that we love everything about it. I have a 4th grader there now. The teacher is creative and energetic and reaches well beyond the canned curriculum and the pressure to teach to the test (yes, it is a major fact of life in public schools). Not all Madera teachers are as impressive.

Madera has a very active parent community which raises money for music, arts, science, PE, you name it. There are lots of events and enrichment activities. It is a diverse and interesting student (and parent) population and all in all a pretty happy campus, with an effective and accessible principal.

Madera just added a 6th grade this year, so Portola is now a 2-year middle school. Some kids do fine there, others do not. (Some kids do fine anywhere -- others would be better served elsewhere for sure.) The mantra is ''if your kid is academically strong and takes all the advanced classes and has a tight cohort of friends and plays in the band and/or plays sports ... Portola is fine.'' In any case, two years is not forever, and lots of kids leave during middle school years (for another district, or homeschool, private school, independent study); some return to the district for high school. Maybe when the new Portola campus is built, this will change.

Best of luck, hope Madera has a slot for you (I can't really speak to that question, although they do make every effort to seat someone who is a resident . Reasonably happy, but learning should be so much more fun than it is

Hello and welcome to El Cerrito! Our son attends Mira Vista K-8 school on the El Cerrito/Richmond border in the Richmond Hills, and we are very happy with the school and the community. It is our neighborhood school and it is great to walk to school and have his friends nearby. I do not know if the 4th grades at Madera or Mira Vista are full, but you could call to find out. Mira Vista is another option for middle school when you get to that point. Good luck. Grace

Just wanted to add my voice to the discussion about Portola .

My son is now a freshman at El Cerrito High School and I feel that the autonomy demanded of him by his teachers at Portola prepared him well for high school.

Classes are large so it's mostly lecture format. Kids are expected to track homework in their planners and show up during lunch or after school if they need individual help or tutoring. Parents can track student progress online by logging into a program called power school which reports whether work is being completed and gives the current grade in the class. Most of the kids rise to the challenge of being responsible for their own academic achievement and are ready for high school.

My son chose the advanced classes (they let the kids choose) but struggled to keep up in some of them because he wasn't always focused. He had some very engaging and wonderful teachers but he was busy dealing with teenage hormones,navigating friendships, and growing into his new adult body so academics were not the highest priority. Fortunately, middle school is a time of transition so this wasn't a big deal.

Band and sports are very popular but I know students who absolutely loved the theater program. The drama teacher is very inspirational.

There was a very active parent community and a strong anti-bullying policy. Parent fundraising paid for after school and lunch time crafts on rainy days plus parents subsidize materials for the library, purchase classroom supplies, and invite each academic department to make requests for larger items (overhead projector, printer for the classroom, set of classroom books, etc.). While I was there, every teacher request (within reason) was approved and paid for by the PTA.

I really liked the small size and cohesive feel of the temporary campus. This is not a perfect school but it has a lot to offer a motivated kid who has parent support/guidance.

We are planning to send our daughter to Portola after she finishes elementary school.


Moving within EC and not changing schools

Nov 2010


Hello, We moved to the East Bay from out of state last year and are renting a house in El Cerrito. Our son is in elementary school. My husband is eager to buy a home since he thinks prices will start going up again soon, but I'd hate to have my son switch schools again. Does anyone know what the policy in WCCUSD is regarding moving and staying at the same school and would our younger child be able to attend the same school when he's ready for kindergarten? Thanks!! W.M.

Between the closure of Castro elementary, the down economy, and an increased number of young families in El Cerrito, the schools are a lot more crowded than they used to be. Some are so crowded that they cannot even accommodate all residents. Five years ago it was relatively easy to switch schools, but now, not so much. The district isn't granting many transfers based on ''parent choice'', reserving that privilege for families that are zoned to underperforming ''Title 1'' schools. So, while you might be able to keep your older child in his present school by simply not telling the school that you moved, your younger child would have to attend the school closest to your new home. And, of course, registering your younger child at the new school potentially exposes your older child as a non-resident.

If you are really happy with your son's school I think you should save yourself a whole boatload of stress and stay in your rental and try to wait to buy a house in that zone. anon


Your experience with El Cerrito schools?

January 2002


We're thinking about buying a home in El Cerrito and would like to hear about other families' experiences with the public schools, especially Fairmount Elementary Thanks! Kathryn

Although I went to Harding School (circa 1950) I would strongly recommend raising small children in El Cerrito. Its a very special (if unknown) place for families. Fairmount is located next to the Senior Center and the library. (Its also one block from the El Cerrito Natural Food Company, which is truly child-friendly.) Many families have lived in the city for two or three generations, sending their children through public education from kindergarten to college. (UC Berkeley is a common destination.) Kids who need extra help can go to one of the nearby learning centers or even spend a year or two at private alternative schools. (My kids spent time at Crestmont and Yellow Brick Road.)

Try it...you'll like it. And if you don't...you can always sell your house in a year or two for $100,000 more than you paid for it...take the proceeds and move to Lafayette! But you won't want to. Once you live in El Cerrito, you are home. Dorothy

PS...for great EC school news, check the El Cerrito Wire, available online and produced by elementary school teacher, Betty Buginas

To the parents considering a move to El Cerrito: I visited Fairmont School two years ago and was not impressed at all. Since then they have gotten a new principal and some additional funding, so things may be on the upswing. The only way to know is to visit some classes and talk to parents who are there now. The PTA newsletter will also give you a hint as to how involved the parents are and what they are doing. You can pick it up in the office.

Also, take all the boundary stuff with a grain of salt because there is a new middle school opening in January 2003 in Richmond, and as a result the district is currently looking at redrawing boundaries for the entire district. When we bought our house 8 years ago we were in Harding. By the time we started school we were in Fairmont. Now who knows, we may end up in Harding again! As for the quality of the middle schools, I'm afraid I haven't heard much positive input on them, but we are hoping that things will be better (and that we can work to make them better) by the time we get there in 5 years. El Cerrito High has a pretty good reputation, much like Berkeley High, it's big, but allows most kids to find a niche.

In general, El Cerrito is a great community with a lot happening. The Plaza is finally open with new shops, the pool at the Community Center will be completely renovated in the coming year, and there are lots of families in the neighborhoods. Good luck with these big decisions! Anne-Marie and Tim

(Also see pages for individual schools' recommendations above.)