About Richmond Public Schools

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi everyone! 
    you guys give such great advice that I thought I’d ask yet another question with hopes to get some advice.

    My oldest son is starting pre-K next year and we live in Richmond. I’m really worried about the public schools in my area because they just don’t have a good rep. Last year we applied to a bilingual Spanish and English school which is really my dream school, but we are not financially capable to pay $25k per child. And even if we qualified for assistance we were not granted any help. Obviously we were not able to enroll him.

    i grew up in Berkeley and although times have changed, i would love it to have him attend but unfortunately don’t live in Berkeley. How can I provide my sons the best education without breaking my pocket and also not breaking any laws in putting him in a school district I don’t live in. 
    i have to add, my three year old is suuuuupppeeerrr smart and I’m not just saying that because he is my kid, but his daycare teachers tell us all the time that he is really advanced but my biggest fear is that he will not get the right opportunities because he also is very energetic and learns the wrong things as well and I’m afraid of his teachers loosing interest in him (like his daycare does now) because of his energy. 

    any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

    Richmond is a big place and the WCCUSD neighborhood schools vary in PTA funding/support. Washington School, for example, has a bilingual Spanish/English curriculum. Mira Vista and Fairmont both draw from Richmond & El Cerrito by zone. After registering at your neighborhood school, you can apply for an in-district transfer for one of those, if you think they would meet your family's needs better than your neighborhood school. The bilingual Chinese/English school is in unincorporated Richmond and is by lottery, after registering at your neighborhood school. You can also apply for an interdistrict transfer to Albany public schools, again after registering at your neighborhood school. I think bottom line is give your child another year in preschool and then the fall before kindergarten, take a thorough look at your realistic choices and budget, while also getting registered at your neighborhood school (usually in January before the fall of K). Another year will reveal more of your child's potential strengths and weaknesses in the classroom setting. Try not to worry about it too much when they are 3!

    My kids are now a little older, but if the Mandarin school option had been available to us when they were at the right age, I would have seriously considered it. I think that seems like a private school option for a public school price tag. But I have no first hand experience.

    I live in the N&E in Richmond and my kids attend the new Michelle obama elementary (formerly Wilson) and they have thrived! It is a very warm and friendly environment. I consider my kids bright s well, but they have always been challenged in their class and have never mentioned being bored. The principal Ms Velez is very involved and accessible to parents. The teachers are dedicated and the school has a very low turnover, which says a lot to me. Yes, it is low income school and title 1,but don't let that discourage you from checking it out.

    Have you looked at KSS Immersion Schools? I think that the closest one to you is in Albany, but they have a great Spanish immersion program like you're looking for! https://ksspreschool.com/

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Stay in Richmond or move to a better school district?

August 2006

My husband and I are debating if we should stay in Richmond and send our kids to private schools or move to a neighborhood with better schools and send them to public schools. If we decide to move, where? What advice can you give regarding relocating and schooling? Thank you for your inputs! Kien

We too had a similar dilemna. Moving was not an option because we are happy where we live (home, spacious yard, and neighborhood) and for financial reasons. We opted for private school even though we really can't afford it! Our son goes to Windrush in El Cerrito and loves it. The school and afterschool program have been ideal for him and the family as well. Please feel free to contact me if you have specific questions. Elizabeth

I missed the original post, but we are staying in Richmond, have a 3rd grader in private school (and going into serious debt to do it, but renting elsewhere would be comparable to our current mortgage payments, then no equity, etc.) I am seriously considering an inter-district transfer for my younger one even though I love the private school. I think the schools are generally improving and will continue to with parent support (but my local school looks like a bleak prison and I am not inclined to consider that one......) satisfied with Richmond


Thinking about buying in Richmond Heights/Annex - what about the schools?

Feb 2006

My husband and I are looking at buying a home either in the Richmond Heights( a.k.a Richmond View) or Richmond Annex. We like the feel but are not familiar with the areas. Any advice on either area in general?-Mainly, Elementary schools? Safety? Diversity? Much appreciated

Hi. I live in the middle, El Cerrito, and know several families whose children attend the neighborhood elementary schools for Richmond Annex and View, Fairmont and Mira Vista. Each family I know who has children in these schools is happy with their school. Each family I know is also happy with the safety and diversity of their neighborhood. However, I chose to live in El Cerrito (and pay slightly more for slightly less rental housing), because I prefer the El Cerrito city recreation services (daycare, camps, and teams) and would end up paying much more for them as a non-resident. Another thing, if you plan to stay in your home long term, be sure to also consider and visit the neighborhood middle and high schools. --anon

Before last year, we had never seriously considered buying a property in Richmond or sendi ng our kids to a WCCUSD school, based on what we had heard about the area and the schools in general. When we did go round Richmond Annex to see it for ourselves, however, we got a strong feeling that it was a safe, quiet and interesting neighborhood. Going with our instincts, we bought our place. Since moving into our Richmond Annex home about 10 months ago, we have grown very fond of the area. Our neighbors are a mix of older folks and young families with kids. We have always felt safe when we go for long walks around the area, at times in the early part of the evening. In fact, since the Annex is close to El Cerrito, we get to walk to the library, Bart, the El Cerrito Plaza, the Pacific East Mall, the El Cerrito Community Center and almost everywhere within walking distance. As for the K-6 schools here, I can only speak for Fairmont Elementary (on Kearney at Stockton Ave next to the El Cerrito library), since my older son goes there. It is a small public school that has very experienced and caring staff, a hardworking, approachable principal and a safe environment where there are clear expectations for student conduct. It also has a very diverse student population, and I mean diverse in a wide sense of the word. We have students of different ethnicities and coming from various socioeconomic backgrounds. We also have students with disabilities. From what I see in my son\x92s classroom, the students are hardworking, motivated and respectful. And with the passing of Measure J last year, the school will finally get a facelift that it deserves. You may want to look at some data to start with, but please bear in mind that standardized test scores are standards of accountability within a narrow framework and don\x92t give the whole picture. (Start looking at the 2005 Accountability Progress Report on the district\x92s website http://www.wccusd.k12.ca.us/index.shtml.) I would suggest visiting schools in whichever area you choose during school session (do take advantage of the kindergarten tours being held around now) and talk to parents who actually have kids studying in the schools.

For all that it\x92s worth, here is my real reason for sending my kids to the neighborhood school -- I want my kids to learn in a classroom of kids from the same community from various socioeconomic backgrounds, so that out of this shared experience they will grow to understand the realities of the community they live in and learn to be responsible for the community. Please do not give up on public elementary schools in this district or anywhere else for that matter. They are fine, as long as we invest some time and energy offering our kids ample opportunities for learning outside the scope of formal schooling, which we should be doing anyway.