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Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

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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 potluck for mathematicians with children to meet each other.


Information for families with school-going children

Children ages 5-18 years, Kindergarten-High School, respectively, can attend Berkeley public or private schools. A child entering kindergarten needs to be 5 years by September 1 to enroll for that academic year. Similarly, students entering grade 1 need to be 6 years by September 1, students entering grade 6 need to be 11 years, and student entering grade 9 need to be 14 years by September 1.

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).

Elementary school

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 socio-economic 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.

Parents with elementary school children 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.

  • North West Zone – Rosa Parks, Jefferson, Thousand Oaks, Berkeley Arts Magnet
  • Central Zone – Cragmont, Oxford, Berkeley Arts Magnet, Washington, Malcom X
  • South East Zone – Emerson, John Muir, Le Conte, Malcolm X

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.

Middle school

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

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 a universal 9thgrade program where all ninth grade students follow a similar curriculum. At the end of 9thgrade, students have the opportunity to rank a learning community from those offered for their 10th-12thgrade 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 - in a nutshell

  • Three learning communities are smaller communities and have approximately 240 students each – Academy of Medicine and Public Service, Arts and Humanities Academy, and Communication Arts and Sciences.
  • The bigger learning communities are Academic Choice and Berkeley International, 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 for those 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 2017-18 Choice Brochure’. 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
  • Parent Preference Form
  • Declaration of residency
  • 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
  • Parent Government-issued identification, example passport or driver’s license
  • 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
  • Proof of Berkeley residency – all documents require original copies
    • MSRI’s Letter of Invitation to the program
    • Rental/Lease agreement, which can also be AirB&B, VBRO, along with a receipt of payment dated within 45 days
    • 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
    • Any one from the following documents which has your Berkeley address
      • 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
      • CA Drivers License
      • Valid automobile registration with valid auto insurance
      • All pages of a utility bill. This can be PG&E (gas & electricity), EBMUD (water), landline/telephone, internet or cable

The Admission Office takes 3-5 business days to process your application. They 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.

On 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 additional documents are required to filled or submitted during registration.

  • Child’s immunization record (officially translated to 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 in English)
  • Medical and dental (www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/documents/oralhlthassess.doc) forms for elementary and middle school. Berkeley High requires you to fill in the Health Center form in ENGLISH

Miscellaneous public school information

  • The first day of school for the 2018-19 academic year is Monday, 27 August 2018. Details on school and district office holidays can be found on BUSD’s website
  • 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 is available for elementary and middle school for a fee called LEARNS — Links Enrichment, Academics and Recreation to the Needs of Students

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 tuitions, 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): $24,000
  • Middle (Grades 6-8): $26,000
  • High (Grades 9-12): $33,000

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 4th-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.
  • Tehiyah Day School in the neighboring city of El Cerrito offers a Bridge-8 education filled with diverse Jewish experience and tradition.


Information for families with infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers


This is a list of centers that usually accept MSRI’s semester-long applications

In North Berkeley neighborhood

  • Sprouts offers a home-based 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.
  • 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.
  • Mi Escuelita Day Care offers a home-based Spanish bi-lingual program for children, ages 18 to 42 months. The main program is from 8:30-3:30 PM, with after care until 5:30 PM. You can enroll between 2-5 days/week.
  • Mustard Seed offers a center-based Christian program for 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.

  • In other Berkeley neighborhoods

    • St Johns in Elmwood Berkeley offers a full-day year-round program for 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.
    • Berkeley Hills is in the Berkeley Hills neighborhood and offers a program for children 2.9 to 5 years. The main program is from 9-1 PM, with an after care option until 3 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You can enroll between 3-5 days a week. They have a minimum enrollment of 4 months.
    • Bahia in Northwest Berkeley offers Spanish and English bilingual program. Centro Vida offers a full-day year-round program for 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 home-based program for 6 children, infant to preschool. The program is open from 8:30-5:30 PM.
    • Cornerstone Children’s Center near UCB campus offers a Christian program for 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.


    In the neighboring city of Albany

    • Bright Star offers a Montessori program for children 2 to 5 years old. The center is open from 7-6 PM, and offers a morning and a full day program. You can enroll for 4 or 5 days a week.


    Nanny care

    Nanny care averages $15-$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 iconic 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 an on-line access to a group of local and experienced nannies vetted through references, 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 iconic 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.