Transferring in the West Contra Costa County School District
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Hi, I'm looking for advice about moving. Our current house is zoned for Madera and we are very happy with the school. Our son is comfortable and we really like his teacher, the other parents, the after-care program, and MASEP. I currently serve as his room parent.
We would like to move into a bigger house farther up the hill. Of the houses that we are considering, several are zoned for either Mira Vista or Kensington. Some are in Berkeley. If we choose a house in the Mira Vista or Kensington district, how hard would it be to be able to stay at Madera? Our son has a hard time with change and he's comfortable with the routine at Madera. As he has two working parents, he spends a lot of time at after-care and the ability to sign him up for MASEP is very important to us. We would not be able to transport him from either of those schools to MASEP.
Does it matter when in the year we move? Would it be easier to stay at Madera if we move in the middle of the school year instead of over the summer? Would we have to petition to stay at Madera every year or could we get permission once to stay there through the end of sixth grade (assuming that we don't move again)? I'm also interested in hearing about the after-school options at Mira Vista and Kensington.
We aren't interested in playing games or lying about our address in order to stay at the school. But we truly believe that our son will be much better off at Madera than at a school without an enrichment program (while I'm a great organizer, I don't think that I have the capacity to start a program like MASEP at one of the other schools).
I assume that if we move to Berkeley (either North Berkeley or Berkeley Hills) that we will want to enroll him in Berkeley schools. But the lottery process scares me and I don't know anything about the after-school programs at Berkeley schools. Any input?
Any advice that you can give would be extremely helpful. If we need to limit our search to houses zoned for Madera we will do that. But it really cuts out a lot of very nice places! Thanks for your advice
Well, I have to say I admire you for even thinking of it. This happens frequently. People who have their kid in a ''good'' school don't say a word to the district about moving. Once your child is in, he's in... the district doesn't probe about addresses after initial enrollment.
If you insist on ''doing the right thing''--notifying the district of your move--you will have to register at the new school. You can then apply for a transfer. But the deadline for transfer application is in February. And in my experience, the district doesn't notify families of transfers until the 2nd week of school, when they know what schools have spaces available. It may help to speak to your principal, who can try to help bypass the transfer-office bureaucracy nightmare.
LOTS of people do address fraud to get in WCCUSD's top schools. Because this practice isn't as widespread as Albany or BUSD, WCCUSD just doesn't address it. But just know that when you cheat, your child is taking a space that then becomes unavailable for a child in need of a legal transfer (because of bullying, special needs, etc). anon
I know a number of families who moved to another neighborhood within WCCUSD but whose kids remain at Madera. Yes, you will have to reapply every year and there are no guarantees, but your child will be at the top of the list and the principal makes every effort to keep the community whole. I suggest that you talk to her about it. Madera mom
I personally know of at least 3 children who have moved from the district to Oakland, Hercules and Richmond, and they still go to Madera. Yes it's an amazing school and I don't blame you for wanting to stay. I believe the parents just didn't notify the district about their change of address and it's a don't-ask-don't-tell kind of thing. Madera Is Awesome
We only have experience in sending our kids thru Kensington, so cannot speak to Mira Vista. We live within walking distance of Kensington Hilltop Elem, and loved the experience of having our kids walk to their ''neighorhood school.'' Both kids are done there now and had very positive expereiences, academically and socially. They both went to the afterschool program on-site (Neighborhood School) because we are both working parents, like you, and we liked it trememdously. Both our kids also took many of the after school classes offered by our enrichmnet program KASEP, which sounds very similar to your MASEP. YOu can find more info on KASEP at this website: http://www.aboutkensington.com/kasep.html If you enroll your kid in Neighborhood after school, they walk them to and from KASEP classes.
If you are happy at Madera, you will be happy at Kensington, the issue of any kid going thru the transition of changing schools notwithstanding. Good luck with your house hunting-- that may be the most challenging part! anon
Hello, I have two boys at Mira Vista and both attend the FREE after school care program there. My kids are in 5th and 2nd grade. We are very happy with the school and the after school program, which is run by Bay Area After School All Stars and funded through state and federal grants. The program provides homework help, art, PE, cooking, computer lab, social skills building, and other fun and educational activities, as well as an after school snack. Students can stay until 6pm. Mira Vista K-8 School provides a rigorous educational experience supported by an active parent community. We have two gardens, elementary and middle school libraries, band, art, glee club and more. We have a wonderful principal who has brought positive energy and consistency to the school. Please contact me if you want to know more. Good luck in your search! vf
I am a parent of two Mira Vista students and would love to share my experiences of the school and the after-school program with you. Our family has been at Mira Vista for 5 years now and it has been an unequivocally positive experience. My children have had experienced and dedicated teachers at every grade level. The current principal has been a force for positive change within the school and is dedicated to continuing that progress. The parent community is welcoming, active and committed to making Mira Vista a thriving neighborhood public school. Thanks to committed parents, the PTA and the district, we have art instruction in grades K-3, a phenomenal music program (Band and Glee Club), two school gardens (with an Urban Agriculture elective for Middle School students), STEM club and a Lego Robotics program.
The after-school program is a wonderful resource. It is free and available for students in 1st-5th grades; my older child has attended the after school program for the last 2 years. It is well organized, and offers kids time for physical activity, homework completion and enrichment activities. Is it perfect? No. I wish the kids had a bit more input on which activities were offered. But it is a life saver for our family (that also has two full-time working parents). I encourage you to come and learn more about Mira Vista (check our website for upcoming public events or contact the PTA to arrange for a tour). MV Parent
I am the original poster of these questions. I just wanted to thank all of you for the great responses. I learned a lot and it was very helpful. Thanks for the helpful advice
Hello! We are in the West Contra Costa school district and are interested in requesting a transfer to a different elementary school. Is it just impossible to get a transfer to Harding? If so, we are looking at Olinda, Hanna Ranch, Ellerhorst, Lupine Hills, Highland, Valley View... Does anyone out there know the chances of getting transfers to those schools, or have recommendations for a certain school or navigating the process? Thank you so much for any information or tips! New to all this
The availability of transfers/open spots seems to vary quite a bit from year to year in these schools, from what I've observed. Some years there are lots of spaces, other years not so much at the very same school (either because more local kids go that year, or because they reduce the number of classes that are open that year, etc.) So, I can't answer which schools in particular have openings this year. But I hope this isn't for the upcoming school year: the period for requesting transfers in WCCUSD is in February. If you are looking for the upcoming school year (2013-4), I'd contact the WCCUSD transfer office ASAP to find out what the possibilities are. --wccusd mama
My son is assigned to attend De Anza HIgh School, in Richmond. (We are a few scant blocks from the El Cerrito High assignment, but close only counts with horse shoes.)
De Anza gets a Great Schools score of 4; we're trying to figure out our options. Does anyone know how one can request a transfer to a different high school - and get it? Meaning, I understand the process of going through the Richmond Transfer Office - but what kind of request will they honor? Will ''We want a better high school for our son'' cut the mustard?
If not, does anyone know of an East Bay public high school that teaches German? My son has taken German for the past three years in middle school, and it would be reasonable to ask to be transferred to a high school that offers German.
Thanks for your help! Hoping for a good high school
I don't know how the process works to transfer out of Richmond into another district. My friends who have transferred out of Oakland first secured a place at another school, then went to the Oakland School District for a release. Sometimes the district doesn't want to release kids, and I have no idea how tough Richmond is on the score, so be prepared for that.
As for German, Campolindo High School in Moraga has an excellent German program. It is ridiculously good, in fact. I know kids have transferred in from Richmond and El Sobrante before, but I'm not sure it was for German. The commute isn't too bad if you take San Pablo Dam Road. The high school district out here has endured pretty rough budget cuts the past few years and have cut back course offerings and put teachers on furlough days. So, I'm not sure if they have the openings to accept kids from out of district. (Again, just giving you the background.)
I know a kid who was able to transfer into Miramonte from Oakland because she wanted her International Baccalaureate and no Oakland schools offered it at that time (that might have changed in recent years). If that would interest your kid and your district doesn't offer it, that could be an avenue for transfer. Berkeley High has an IB program as well.
Would renting out your house and then moving and renting in a better high school area for the duration of high school be an option for you? Many people do that.
We knew a family from El Cerrito whose son transferred to a high school in Orinda or Moraga around 2006 because it was the only local public high school they could find that offered German. Don't know if that's still true-- don't know if you want him to travel so far. Good luck with this!
De Anza is undergoing a major renovation and will have a brand spanking new school in a year or so. It might be worth staying, perhaps the new building will usher in a new culture and encourage good teachers and committed families to make De Anza their home. De Anza's score would be higher if families within it's attendance radius stayed on to support it. Also the score of a school doesn't necessarily mean your child will have a negative experience there. Focused students with strong family support can take advantage of AP classes and rise to the top. Think of a big fish in a little pond. Kids go on to very competitive colleges from there.
That being said, if you are bound and determined to go ahead with a transfer, academic accommodations are valid reasons. If there is a specific program offered at school other then your assigned one, that is important to your child's personal educational goals such as Latin, German, Public speaking, Architectural Drafting, etc, then that is a legitimate reason to be granted a transfer. You have to do a little research, call around, ask to see course listings. The district has a vested interest in keeping your ADA dollars within it's borders at any of its high schools. They would prefer that to having you leave the district all together via an inter-district transfer, which, incidentally, is a 2 step process, needing permission from the old district to leave and then getting permission from the new district to attend; or, gasp, pulling your child out of the public system all together. Good Luck Well wisher
Hi: Castro Valley High School has a healthy high school German program.
My son is a sophomore at Campolindo Highschool in Moraga and we transferred into the Acalanes school district, to which Campo belongs, from the MT. Diablo school district. Just like in your case, I wanted my son to learn German, so I thought it would be an easy process. Not so. It was a nightmare. First, MT. Diablo did not want to release our son even though he had never been in this school district because he had been in private school all his life; they denied our release. Their reasoning was ''we need every dollar in the district and learning German is a 'nice to have' not a 'must have'''. I appealed and literally went to the district offices and told them I would not leave untill they released him, so they finally did. Then it took a long time before I heard that he got accepted at Campolindo. They needed transcripts, attendance records, any disciplinary records, etc. from his middle school. We did not find out until right before summer vacation that he was finally in. My son loves it at Campo, and Mr. Blumberg, or Herr ''B'' as they all call him (head of the German department) is fabulous. It was well worth the fight but we ended up renting out our house and moving to Lafayette because my son wanted to be closer to his friends - he felt disconnected. Knowing what I know now I would have just moved. it gets harder and harder to get a transfer because schools don't want to loose dollars. Mom of German student
I will be applying for an intradistrict transfer for my son, who starts Kindergarten next year. Our neighborhood school is Wilson (which I believe is a NCLB school, but there is conflicting info on the WCCUSD website). I'm hoping to get a sense of this process based on people's experiences last year. How long did it take to get a response from the district? Had the school year already started? Was the transfer request accepted? Was there anyone in the district office to answer questions, give updates on wait lists, etc.? Were you able to access any of the school-based aftercare, or was it too late? I'm very concerned about the uncertainty of this process, and the possibility that things will not be settled before school starts (to the point that we might just go the private school route ...). I'll be requesting Mira Vista or Olinda -- has anything been decided about Olinda's future? Thanks for any help. Anxious West County Mom
We did the intradistrict transfer last year. The form only allow you to apply for transfer to two schools. We applied to 6... I just used three forms. We got into Mira Vista. Based on the schools you've listed I think you have a pretty good shot at the transfer... I'd be more doubtful if you'd said Madera and Kensington. It is my belief that people are more aware that Mira Vista is going to become K- 8 so there will be more families applying there but that is just my guess. People transfering from Program Improvement Schools will have transfer priority over others. According to the most recent School Accountability Report Card on the district website Wilson is not a PI school. You could find out for sure by calling the school office.
The transfer process is slow. We applied in January but because of the school board delays in deciding on school closures the transfer office couldn't do anything for most of the spring. We did not receive notice of our school assignment until mid June. I work in the district and have only heard quiet rumblings that more school closures are coming, but nothing official so I don't know if there will be simillar delays this year. Mira Vista mom
Here are the answers to some of your questions according to my experiences - transferred son year before last:
How long did it take to get a response from the district? applied for kindergarten and transfer in jan, got wait-listed in march and accepted end of april, last year it took longer for many for various reasons
Had the school year already started? for some, last year, yes
Was there anyone in the district office to answer questions, give updates on wait lists, etc.? usually there was someone - not necessarily very informative unless pushed
Were you able to access any of the school-based aftercare, or was it too late? yes but they fill up fast. I registered my son in after care before he was accepted to the school because I found out some had already filled up at other school. if you are going to Olinda - that is the one that filled up really early - 2 years ago.
I'm very concerned about the uncertainty of this process, and the possibility that things will not be settled before school starts (to the point that we might just go the private school route ...). I'll be requesting Mira Vista or Olinda -- if you are persistent, firm and patient you should not have a problem. I found it useful to volunteer at the schools I was interested in both to check them out and to get to know the staff. When I applied, they were very helpful and I already knew something about the system and who to talk to and that made things more manageble when I encountered bumps in the road.
has anything been decided about Olinda's future? my understanding is that Oinda's future comes under scrutiny every few years when they decide to close schools. it is smallish and theoretically easier to absorb those kids into surrounding schools. But they have a good PTA and el sobrante in general has a core of politically active people who are good advocates. good luck
We made a successful transfer to Valley View elementary two years ago. 50% of Valley View students are transfers. There are 2 other elementary schools in the neighborhood so there is plenty of room for transfers. Valley View is an excellent school. My daughter has learned so much from her kindergarten and first grade teacher. The principal is great too. In addition to excellent academics and a high API score the school offers about 20 after school enrichment classes. It also has a very strong parents group. Two thumbs up for Valley View! D.
We jsut moved here from the midwest. I did not know that I could not put my kids in a school close to my work and I rented a house in East Bay area and the closest school for my two teenage daughters would be Richmond HS. I have heard so many horror stories about this place and everyone we have talked to says do whatever it takes to put them in a different shcool (even the other neighborhood kids that should attend there tell us that!) We visited there a couple of weeks ago and it was horrid! I wanted to put them in John Swett HS in Crockett, as it is on my way to and from work. This school has good reviews and I think my kids would be happy there. We made a visit there had a terrific experience and we all felt good about it after. This school would have no problem letting them in ... the problem is Richmond releasing them ... I read the interdistrict transfer policy and it says it can take up to 6 MONTHS!!!! My kids are terrified to attend Richmond and I don't blame them ... it really is like a bleak prison setting and it is so miserable there. Richmond HS also does NOT offer the accademic courses that my daughters have been taking and want to continue with ... Physics, Calculus, Latin and Journalism ... I read the policy and it does state that this qualifies for ID transfer ... and I am trying to get my families estate settled so that I can purchase a home in Crockett ... but that may take a year or so and I do not have the energy or money to keep moving. I also have not found a house for rent in Crockett. I certainly do not want to keep uprooting the kids in the meantime ... How can I expidite this? There has to be a better way to go about this!
Try Middle College High School, another WCCUSD public school to which all WCCUSD high school students can apply. Here is the link: http://www.contracosta.cc.ca.us/mchs/Application%202006%20-2007.doc
-- a mom
Does anyone have the scoop on intradistrict transfers in West Contra Costa County? My stepson is supposed to attend either Kennedy or Richmond High next year (where his mom lives & he is 60% of the time). His father & I would prefer that he attend Alhambra HS in Martinez (where we live). There have been several incidents that have occurred near his mom's house that have caused us great concern. He was severely beaten a few months for his $350 bicycle and has been mugged twice in the last 2 years -- once a few weeks ago for his $450 large gold necklace w/cross.
The former wife thinks this is okay because it doesn't happen all the time. We, of course, think it is NOT okay. Unfortunately, the 13 year old son prefers to stay with his mom because she has far fewer rules and he has basically no boundaries or responsibilities with her. Thus a family court battle is not an option -- it would be very expensive & hard to win since he would defnitely side with his mom. The former wife has told my husband that the principal of the middle school has guaranteed that the boy will get to go to El Cerrito HS. I find that very hard to believe since I thought the standard for intradistrict transfers was the requirement to go to the district office and fill out the appropriate forms at an appropriate time. The mom has a history of not being truthful so we're a skeptical of her story. However, we're just trying to gather all the information we can so we can be as prepared as possible.
Our son is attending El Cerrito High School this year. He went to a private school and we were naive about both the transfer process, and his chances of getting into St. Mary's. Don't leave anything to chance. I believe the transfers are due by February. Get the forms as soon as possible from 2600 Moraga Avenue, Room #20, San Pablo 94806. The telephone is 510-307-5323. We didn't get the transfer form in until March and our son was placed 128th on the waiting list. It helps to have a sibling or strong reason to want the transfer (your son needs Japanese, for instance). Athletics are not accepted as a reason. I have no idea if middle school principals have any pull. But make sure you go through all the officially dictated procedures. We ended up renting a house to get our son in the school, and even that wasn't a sure thing. We didn't find out he was in until the Friday before school started. There are lots of kids at El Cerrito from the Kennedy/Richmond High area. N.
Concerning your step son's transfer to El Cerrito High, the WCCUSD usually does grant transfers after any violence has occurred to a child. Or so I have heard. I believe if the parent states that the child is afraid of lack of safety, and has an experience or two to back up that fear, that the transfer is not a problem. Another way to get a transfer is to choose a class that ECHS has that the other schools do not, that way you have a curriculum reason to transfer. The time period to put in for a transfer hasn't even come up yet, usually it is February or March. Sandy
I couldn't find a lot on the district web site about this but there is a phone number for the transfer office: (510) 307-5323. I would recommend asking them for a written copy of the transfer policy. Also, I don't know if it is in the policy but it may be that they would take into account the violent incidents; I would certainly ask about it. If they had happened on the campus he was trying to transfer out of it would be a clearer cut case. Finally, you might want to contact the principal at his current school who is saying that he/she can get him into El Cerrito High for more information. Anonymous
I had to work for weeks, phoning and visiting district offices, attempting to get my son transferred into Kennedy from out-of-district. The only way it finally happened is when the Principal of Kenney personally sent a fax to the West Contra Costa County district transfer office, telling them that yes, it was ok to transfer my son in. Main problem was the district transfer office; staff where unresponsive, unreliable, unknowledgeable and unwilling to help and/or do their job. It was a very discouraging experience. Sorry I couldn't tell you something better, but this was my reality. C.