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Family Services

  • MSRI strives to maintain a diverse community of mathematicians in its programs, by actively assisting mathematicians with partners (spouses), and children. The Institute:
  • Has a dedicated person, the Family Services Consultant, who assists mathematicians in finding schools and childcare in Berkeley.
  • Gives special consideration to applicants for the Complementary Program who are partners (spouses) of an invited member of a Core Program. The Institute’s Complementary Program is for mathematicians whose interests are not closely related to its Core Programs. Interested partners (spouses) should include their partner (spouse’s) name in their cover letter.
  • Organizes a weekend picnic each semester for mathematicians with children to meet each other.

MSRI also has access to private sources of funding that makes it possible for women with children to fully participate in its scientific activities. We are deeply grateful to our Family Support Donors for their generosity.

Information for families with school-going children

Children ages 5-18 years of age, from kindergarten through high school levels, can attend Berkeley public or private schools.

Kindergarten: A child entering kindergarten needs to be 5 years old by September 1 to enroll for that academic year.
Grades 1-6: Students entering Grade 1 need to be 6 years old by September 1; Grade 2, 7 years old, and so on; students entering Grade 6 need to be 11 years old by September 1.
Grades 9-12 (High School): Students entering Grade 9 need to be 14 years old by September 1, and so on through Grade 12.

Overview of Berkeley’s public schools

All visiting mathematicians on account of their Berkeley housing rental lease can enroll their children in Berkeley’s public school. Public school is administered by the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) and is provided free of cost. Berkeley’s diversity, influenced by the presence of the University of Berkeley and its urban culture, is well represented in the schools’ student population. Schools are ethnically diverse: White (32%), African American (24%), Latino (21%), Multi-ethnic/Other (15%) and Asian (8%). Students speak more than 40 languages in the home. All this offers a different learning experience for children from other countries and other US cities.

Berkeley’s school district has over 9400 students attending eleven elementary schools (kindergarten to grade 5), three middle schools (grades 6-8), one comprehensive and one alternative high school (grades 9-12). Student-teacher ratio average is 20:1 (kindergarten to grade 3), 26:1 (grades 4 & 5), and 28:1 (grades 6-12 in academic classes).

Berkeley School District is unique from many US public schools. In 1968, Berkeley was one of the first school district in America to desegregate without a court order. In its continued effort to maintain balance amongst its diverse socioeconomic residents, the city is divided into school zones. This means that your Berkeley residential address will determine the school zone, and not your neighborhood school. There are three school zones – North West, Central and South East. Each school zone has 4-5 elementary schools and one middle school.

Elementary school: Kindergarten to Grade 5

Parents with elementary school children (ages 5-10 years) rank their schools within their school zone. Assignment to a particular school is strongly based on parental choice, but final selection in made by the school district in keeping with its diversity guidelines. Families with more than one elementary school child will be assigned to the same elementary school. You can find your school zone on the school district’s website. Below are the names of elementary schools in each school zone. More information on each elementary school can be found the school district’s website.

  • Northwest Zone – Rosa Parks, Jefferson, Thousand Oaks, Berkeley Arts Magnet
  • Central Zone – Cragmont, Oxford, Berkeley Arts Magnet, Washington, Malcolm X
  • Southeast Zone – Emerson, John Muir, Malcolm X

The 11th elementary school - Slyvia Mendez offers the Two Way (Spanish English) Immersion program for students from all three school zones.

Curriculum, quality of teachers, and resource allocation is uniform across all schools. Differences occur in the physical infrastructure and the organic emphasis based on school leadership and parent involvement. For example – some schools emphasize more integration of the arts or on socio-emotional development or a language immersion program or a garden-to-table curriculum or a small school-learning environment.

Transitional Kindergarten

Children who turn 5 years during the Fall quarter (September 2 to December 2) can enroll in the Transitional Kindergarten program. This program is a blend of preschool and kindergarten curriculum. Each year the school district decides the locations of this program. For the current 2019-20 academic year, the program is offered at three locations: Sylvia Mendez Elementary School, Malcolm X Elementary School and King Child Development Center.

Middle school: Grades 6-8

Middle school children, based on their residential address, will be assigned to Martin Luther King Junior or Willard, or parents can choose Berkeley’s third middle school – Longfellow. Longfellow offers a Spanish immersion program and more counseling services designed for students who flourish in an alternative learning environment. You can find your middle school and information on each middle school on the school district’s website.

High school: Grades 9-12

There is a main high school – Berkeley High - that brings together 3200 children on a single campus. Berkeley also has the Berkeley Technology Academy for children 16-18 years who require a separate, alternative learning environment to complete high school.

Berkeley High School offers an universal 9th grade program where all ninth grade students follow a similar curriculum. At the end of 9th grade, students have the opportunity to rank a learning community for their 10th-12th grade education. All learning communities are designed to prepare students for college, while allowing students to choose communities closely aligned with their interests and learning styles.

The six learning communities are....

  • The Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS), Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA), and Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) offer smaller learning programs. Each of these communities and have approximately 240 students.
  • The bigger learning communities are Academic Choice (AC) and Berkeley International (BIHS), which have approximately 1000-1200 students each. The International Baccalaureate Diploma is offered at junior level (11thgrade) to students in the Berkeley International community.
  • The last community – Berkeley Independent Study (IS) is for students who prefer an off-campus intimate learning environment or have demanding artistic or athletic pursuits, or job responsibilities.

Details on the learning communities are provided in ‘Berkeley High School’s 2020-21 Course Catalog’. Students rank their preferred learning community. Assignment is strongly based on student’s preference, but final selection in made by the school district in keeping with its diversity guidelines.

Berkeley Unified School District’s admission

The admission process can be initiated only after your child is in Berkeley for the purpose of residency. In other words, no representative can apply on your behalf, nor can the process be started via email or fax. On your child’s arrival in Berkeley, visit BUSD’s Admission Office on 2020 Bonar Street, Suite 108, in person (your child is not required to be present), to submit the following documents:

  1. Parent Preference Form
  2. Declaration of residency
  3. Student’s Birth Certificate
    • If the birth certificate is not in English - please provide a translated copy that has been notarized or formally signed by the concerned official
    • Please note: A passport is not accepted in lieu of the child's birth certificate
  4. Parent Government-issued identification, example passport or driver’s license
  5. Student’s recent report card, or progress report or transcript. If this document is not in English, please provide a translated copy that is verified by your child’s school
  6. Proof of Berkeley residency – all documents require original copies
    1. MSRI’s Letter of Invitation to the program
    2. Rental/Lease agreement, which can also be AirB&B, VBRO, along with a receipt of payment dated within 45 days
    3. MSRI’s letter confirming your Berkeley address. Once you have secured your housing rental — please send MSRI’s Family Services Consultant a copy of the signed leased agreement. On receipt – you will be emailed this letter.
    4. Any one from the following documents which has your Berkeley address
      1. Current local bank statement (checking or savings account). Some members open a bank account in Berkeley solely for this purpose. The process is quick and hassle-free, requiring a small cash deposit. Other members have changed their residential address at their permanent bank, again, solely for this purpose
      2. CA Drivers License
      3. Valid automobile registration with valid auto insurance
      4. All pages of a utility bill. This can be PG&E (gas & electricity), EBMUD (water), landline/telephone, internet or cable

The Admission Office takes on an average 3-5 business* days to process your application. The admission office will notify you of your acceptance status and assigned school via a US telephone number. If you do not have a local telephone (or cell) number that has a voice message service, please contact MSRI's Family Services Consultant. If you do not hear back from the admission office within the time frame mentioned to you during admissions – please follow up directly with them.

Upon being admitted into the school district, you will register your child at the assigned school, by visiting the school in person and with your child. Only after registration can your child begin attending school. The following documents are required to filled or submitted during registration.

  • Assignment letter
  • Child’s immunization record (officially translated into English)
    • Shots for school has information about immunizations required for school entry in California.
    • If your child has gained natural immunity to any of the listed viruses – please provide an official statement from your child's doctor or results of a blood test, to attest for this natural immunity status
  • Your child’s recent report card, progress report or transcript (translated to English) for children entering Grade 2 to Grade 12
  • Parent ID
  • Children entering kindergarten and grade 1 must also submit the Medical and Dental forms.
  • Berkeley High requires you to fill in the Health Center form in ENGLISH

* 'Notes from prior members': Please plan on the possibility, although rare, for a two-week wait period from submitting your application to your child's first day at school.

Miscellaneous public school information

  • For the 2019-20 academic year - the first and last day of school is Monday, August 26, 2019 and Friday, June 12, 2020, respectively.
  • For the 2020-21 academic year - the first and last day of school is Monday, August 17, 2020 and Friday, June 4, 2021, respectively.
  • If your child requires any medication to be kept at the school - please fill in the Medication Authorization Form and have it signed by your child's current doctor.
  • Home-to-school bus transportation is provided free of cost for all elementary children who attend schools within their zones, and who live beyond a 1½-mile walking distance.
  • Early and after-school care program called LEARNS — Links Enrichment, Academics and Recreation to the Needs of Students, is available for all elementary and middle school students for a fee. LEARNS is located in all the three middle schools and nine of the eleven elementary schools.

Overview of Private Schools in Berkeley

Berkeley has a number of religious and independent private schools that offer a wide range of education pedagogy – from alternative to mainstream, from whole-child pedagogy to area-specific, viz. a higher emphasis on the arts or music or language or academic acceleration.

There are only a few private schools that have the ability to enroll children mid-year and for durations shorter than an entire academic year. There is a wide range in cost of tuition rates, with independent schools have higher tuitions compared to religious schools. The average annual tuition for independent schools that accept short duration applications are:

  • Elementary (K-Grade 5): $28,000
  • Middle (Grades 6-8): $30,000
  • High (Grades 9-12): $40,000

This is a list of private schools that MSRI members have enrolled their children.

  • The Berkeley School in Central Berkeley offers a blend of teaching pedagogies – rooted in Montessori while embracing the progressive practices of Reggio Emilia and Project Zero. The school has a preschool and K-8 school program.
  • The Crowden School in North Berkeley offers a 3rd-8th grade school with chamber music at its heart.
  • Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley in Southwest Berkeley provides a bilingual international environment from preschool to grade 8.
  • Maybeck High School in Elmwood, Berkeley, offers an academically challenging curriculum in a collaborative learning environment.

Information for families with infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers

Parents with children up to 5 years can enroll in a daycare center or hire a nanny. Fees for this service is paid for by parents. MSRI's Family Services Consultant can assist you in finding suitable options.

Over the years the consultant has built a network of centers willing to accept MSRI members' application. Semester-long enrollments are easier to find and confirm in advance of MSRI's program dates. Shorter-term, particularly month-long or week-long enrollments are harder to find and when available, are confirmed closer to the member's program dates. Below is a list of centers that MSRI-members' children have attended in Berkeley.

Centers in North Berkley & Hills neighborhoods

  • Sprouts offers a home-based preschool program for 14 children, ages 3 to 5 years. The main program is from 8:30-1 PM with an after care option until 3 PM. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week.
  • Berkeley Hills offers a preschool program for up to 40 children, ages 2.9 to 5 years. The main program is from 9-1 PM, with an after care option until 5:30 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You can enroll between 3-5 days a week.
  • Keiki’s Corner offers a home-based program for 12 children, ages 18 months to 3 years. The main program is from 8:30-1:30 PM, with after care until 5:30 PM. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week.
  • Orange House offers a year-round full-time home-based program for 14 children, ages 24 to 50 months. The program is open from 9-5:30 PM, with optional early care from 8:00 AM.
  • Greenhouse Childcare is a home-based program for 10 children, 16 months to 4 years. The program is open from 8:30-5 PM, except Friday it closes at 3PM. They offer a wide range of schedule options.
  • Mustard Seed offers a center-based Christian program for up to 60 children, ages 18 months to 5 years. The main program is from 9:00-1 PM, with early care starting at 7:30 AM and after care until 6 PM. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week.

Centers in other neighborhoods

  • St Johns in Elmwood Berkeley offers a full-day year-round program for up to 45 children, 3 months to 5 years. The center is from 7:30-6:00 PM, with a minimum enrollment of 7½ hours per day. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week.
  • Vovo's Daycare at the intersection of North Berkeley and Albany city offers a year-round program for up to 14 children, 3 months to 5 years. The home-based program offers English and Portuguese speaking caregivers. Vovo operates from 8:30-5:30 PM and offers a flexible schedule - half day and between 2-5 days/week.
  • Bahia in Northwest Berkeley offers Spanish and English bilingual program. Centro Vida offers a full-day year-round program for up to 65 children, 2 to 5 years and is open from 7:30-5:30 PM. La Academia de Bahia offers a morning-only program from 9 to 12 PM, for children 3 to 5 years old. You can enroll in the programs for 4 or 5 days/week.
  • Dwight Way Child Care is in South Berkeley neighborhood and offers a year-round home-based program for 6 children, infant to preschool. The program is operates from 8:30-5:30 PM, and offers a flexible schedule - half day and between 2-5 days/week.
  • Cornerstone Children’s Center near UCB campus offers a Christian program for up to 72 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years. They offer a year-round flexible scheduling and open from 7:30-5:30 PM. They have a minimum enrollment of 3 months.

Nanny Care

Nanny care averages $18-$25 per child, with an average of $5 per hour for an additional child. Rates depend on experience, education qualification, linguistic skills, and ability to do additional tasks like driving, household chores and co-sharing arrangements. Most nannies know of their availability only a month or so in advance of the start date.

The best resource to find a nanny is on Berkeley Parents Network. It is an established website used by local parents, and has a forum where nannies offer their services and parents seek co-share arrangements. To review or make posts – you will need to subscribe to Berkeley Parents Network, which is free for parents.

If you need a nanny occasionally or for month-long visits: Swiss Cheese Childcare offers online access to a group of local and experienced nannies vetted throughreferences, interviews and who are Trustline certified.

Local Resources

  • Bananas offers free referrals to licensed childcare providers and provides information and resources to families with young children
  • Berkeley Parents Network is an established website where parents can look for and recommend childcare, schools, classes, and camps, buy and sell household items, and find out about local activities and community events.