Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I learn more about public schools in Oakland?
- Visit the Oakland School Finder to view an online catalog of all public schools in Oakland. You can look for schools based on program offering or by location.
- Contact schools of interest to find out the best times to visit and learn more.
When should I apply to OUSD schools?
- The window for on-time applications opens at 8:00 AM on November 16, 2020 and closes at 5:00 PM on February 5, 2021. After that, you can submit a late application online.
- During the on-time application window (November 16, 2020 to February 5, 2021) you do not need to rush to complete an application. An application submitted on the first day of the window will be treated the same as an application submitted on the last day of the window. We want you to take your time to consider all of your options. While it is important to apply during this on-time window, you can take your time to research schools to select the ones you want to apply to. All applications received between November 16, 2020 and February 5, 2021 are considered on-time.
How do I apply to OUSD schools?
- Please go to ousdapply.schoolmint.net for the online application:
- Families new to OUSD: Create an account using your email or mobile (cell phone) number as your username
- Families who created a Schoolmint account last year: Log in with your username and password.
- Current OUSD Families who have never used Schoolmint before: We’ve already created accounts for you. Your username is either the cell phone number or email of the primary parent/guardian on file with your current school. You should have received an email and/or a text with this information. Click the Forgot Password button to access your account. If you need help finding your username you can ask your school, or text/call the Student Welcome Center at 510-879-4600 or email email@example.com.
Who needs to apply for OUSD schools each year?
- New students to OUSD at any grade need to apply.
- Current students in 5th and 8th grade need to apply for the next grade, even if they already attend a “span school” that offers the next grade and they want to continue at the same school.
- Students attending Pre-K classes in OUSD’s Early Childhood Education Programs who want to attend an OUSD school for TK or Kindergarten need to apply.
- Students attending Pre-K classes in OUSD Special Education programs who want to attend an OUSD school for TK or Kindergarten need to apply.
My child already attends an OUSD school in a grade other than 5th or 8th grade. Does s/he need to apply for next year?
- If you want your child to remain at the same school next year, s/he does not need to apply. S/he will automatically move up to the next grade.
- If you want your child to attend a different OUSD school next year, you must complete an application.
- All current students in 5th and 8th grade need to apply for the next grade, even if they already attend a “span school” that offers the next grade and they want to continue at the same school.
How many schools can I apply to?
- Every student can select 6 schools to apply to. In addition, we will automatically create an extra application to your neighborhood school, so you won’t need to include it as part of the group of schools you select.
Is it important for me to rank my schools?
- It is very important for you to carefully rank your schools, including your neighborhood school. We always try to give each student her/his highest-ranked school if it is available.
- The way you rank schools also helps determine which waitlists you will automatically be added to.For example, if you rank 7 schools (including your neighborhood school), and we can make an offer to your 4th-ranked school, you will automatically be placed on the waitlists for your higher-ranked schools (#1, #2, and #3) and your applications to your lower-ranked schools will automatically be cancelled (#5, #6, and #7).
Can I change the ranking or choice of schools after I have submitted the application?
- Yes, if you want to change the ranking or choices of schools, you may log into your SchoolMint account and click on the Add/Edit Student Application link next to your student’s name. You may add schools, change the order of your ranked schools, or remove a school (but not your neighborhood school). If you are having difficulty updating your child’s application, you text/call the Student Welcome Center at 510-879-4600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- After the deadline for on-time applications on February 5, 2021, schools newly added to your application will be considered late applications.
When will I get an offer (and how many offers will I get)?
- We will send out offers on March 11, 2021, along with any waitlist placements. Each student will receive only one offer, along with one or more waitlist placements if the offered school is not your first-ranked choice.
- The deadline to respond to your offer is March 25, 2021.You must accept or decline your offer.
- If you do not accept or decline the offer by March 25, 2021, you will lose the offer.
What if I don’t like my offer or my waitlists and want to make some changes after March 11, 2021?
- If you aren’t satisfied with the offer you received or the waitlists you were assigned to, and you want to make changes, you can log into ousdapply.schoolmint.net to add or remove schools from your application and re-rank schools. However, schools newly added to your application will be considered late applications. Late applications are less likely to receive offers because most schools fill up with on-time offers.
I heard that in the past, families could “appeal” offers/ waitlists and make changes. Is that happening this year?
- We do not accept any appeal requests unless there is evidence that the Student Welcome Center made a mistake in the processing of an application. We’ve eliminated the appeals process because it gave some families an extra chance to change their offer, and this was not fair to other families.
How do you determine who gets an offer to a particular school?
- We use a system of Enrollment Priorities which are assigned to each application. Here are the Enrollment Priority categories in the order in which they are applied. Applicants within each category are selected for placement based on a random lottery within that category:
- Current Students: Some of our schools are called “span schools” because they offer grades beyond what is traditionally offered (e.g. Greenleaf offers grades TK through 8th). Students in all traditional transition grades (i.e. 5th and 8th) need to reapply for the next grade, but they are given the highest priority if they already attend a span school and are applying for the next grade at the same school. Span schools are Parker, Hillcrest, Life Academy, Coliseum College Prep, Greenleaf, Madison Park 6-12, and Melrose Leadership Academy.
- Siblings: Brothers or sisters of students who already attend a school (and will still be attending that school in the following year) are placed next, if they are Oakland residents;
- Opportunity Ticket: Students from schools that are closing or physically moving in order to be merged are placed next, for up to 51% of the remaining seats. Students must be Oakland residents. The Opportunity Ticket does not apply for students applying to grade K, grade 6, or grade 9. Typically, few students will be eligible to receive an Opportunity Ticket priority each year.
- Neighbors: Children who reside within a school’s attendance boundary are placed next. Attendance boundaries can be found on the Oakland SchoolFinder; type in an address and the grade you are interested in, and the map will indicate the neighborhood school for that address. Please note that a few OUSD schools are considered “citywide” and do not have an attendance boundary. These schools are Life Academy, Melrose Leadership Academy, MetWest, Oakland International, and all Alternative Education programs
- OUSD Staff: Children of OUSD staff who work at the school (or at a school on the same campus) are placed next.Students who are currently enrolled in an OUSD Pre-K program will be granted an enrollment priority for TK and/or Kindergarten to the elementary school, if any, located on the same campus as the Pre-K program; if no elementary school is located on the same campus as the Pre-K program, enrollment priority will be granted for TK and/or Kindergarten to the closest elementary school to the student's Pre-K program
- Pre-K Priority (for TK/Kindergarten Enrollment only): Students who are currently enrolled in an OUSD Pre-K program will be granted an enrollment priority for TK and/or Kindergarten to the elementary school, if any, located on the same campus as the Pre-K program; if no elementary school is located on the same campus as the Pre-K program, enrollment priority will be granted for TK and/or Kindergarten to the closest elementary school to the student's Pre-K program
- Residents of Oakland: Residents of Oakland are placed ahead of students who live outside of Oakland.
- General Lottery: All remaining seats at a school are assigned based on a lottery for students who cannot be categorized in one of the Enrollment Priority categories above (primarily for non-Oakland residents).
How do waitlists work?
- The OUSD enrollment system allows you to remain on the waitlists at schools you ranked above (more preferred than) the school offer you accept or decline. It also cancels applications and waitlists at schools you ranked below (less preferred than) the school offered or that you accept. Below is an example of how waitlists work.
- Paul ranked 4 schools as follows:
- Rank 1: School A
- Rank 2: School B
- Rank 3: School C
- Rank 4: School D
- Paul got an offer to his 3rd-ranked choice, School C. He also received waitlists assignments to School A and School B. Because his offer was to his 3rd-ranked school, his 4th-ranked choice, School D, was automatically cancelled.
- Paul declines the offer to School C on March 21, 2021. He stays on the waitlists for School A and School B. Later, he gets an offer to School B, which he accepts. His offer to School C is then automatically withdrawn. He will also stay on the waitlist for School A.
How is the order and placement on waitlists determined?
- Waitlist assignments are automatically determined by the order in which you rank your schools and the particular offer you receive. For example if you rank 7 schools (including your neighborhood school), and we can make an offer to your 4th-ranked school, you will automatically be placed on the waitlists for your higher-ranked schools (#1, #2, and #3) and your applications to your lower-ranked schools will automatically be cancelled (#5, #6, and #7).
- Where you are placed on a particular waitlist is determined by the Enrollment Priority your child has for that particular school. Let’s consider School A. If there are more neighbor applicants for a particular grade at School A than there are available seats, the remaining neighbor applicants who could not receive an offer (because of the order in which they were selected by the random lottery) will be placed at the top of the waitlist in their lottery order. After that, the remaining applicants who could not receive an offer for School A are placed on the waitlist by their priority grouping and their random lottery order.
How likely is it that I will receive an offer to a school if I am on its waitlist?
- This varies by school, depending on how many students at each school do not accept their offer or plan on attending the school. There is no guarantee you will receive an offer from a waitlist, even if you are #1 on that school’s waitlist.
- Sometimes waitlist offers can’t be made until later in the summer, as we continue to determine which students plan on attending. Patience is important with waitlists.
How long can I stay on a waitlist?
- We will maintain the waitlists from March 21, 2021 until the 10th day of school in August 2021. After this date, all waitlists are permanently dissolved; we believe it is not good for students or classes if there is a great deal of students moving between schools after the second week of school.
How will I be notified if I receive an offer from a waitlist?
- We will send you a text and/or an email.
- You will have 5 days to accept the new offer. The time frame to respond to the offer may shorten as the 2021-2022 school nears/opens.
- If you don’t respond to the offer, you will lose the offer and your spot on that school’s waitlist.
If I get an offer from a waitlist, can I still stay on the waitlists for my higher-ranked schools?
- Yes. You can stay on the waitlists for your higher-ranked schools until the tenth day of the school year.
I’ve heard that in prior years, people moved down waitlists over the Spring and Summer. Would that possibly happen this year?
- Yes. The reason this happens has to do with Enrollment Priorities and late applicants.
- Let’s consider School C. You and hundreds of other people applied to School C, but you don’t have sibling or neighbor priority, so you’re pretty far down the waitlist at #34. In May, you go on to your SchoolMint account and are surprised to see that you’re now at #36. This is because two families submitted late applications for School C and they both live within the school’s attendance boundary. They couldn’t be offered a space, because there are no available spots, so these two families had to be placed on the waitlist. Even though they submitted late applications, we still honor their enrollment priorities.
I did not apply by the on-time deadline of February 5, 2021. Can I submit a late application?
- Yes! Late applications will be accepted beginning on February 8, 2021 and can be submitted at ousdapply.schoolmint.net.