San Francisco schools are very unique in one thing, though: you are not guaranteed acceptance into your neighborhood school. SFUSD has a lottery-based placement system. There has been some debate about this placement system in recent years, and we are told that there will be an update coming to the lottery placement system for the 2026-2027 school year. So, if you are the parent of a baby, things will be different for you! If you have a little one entering kindergarten before that time, never fear, we have some excellent tips to securing a spot in a great school. As San Francisco real estate agents and parents raising two children in San Francisco ourselves, we have spent a considerable amount of time researching the best options!
We suggest exploring independent schools and public schools simultaneously. Even if the cost seems to be a hurdle, there are excellent scholarships available at most of the independent schools, and many families find that they enjoy being at a school that they chose based on their values. At the same time, if you elect to go through SFUSD, there are a variety of school options available. From language immersion to charter schools, SFUSD has many great options.
One excellent source of information for school information is greatschools.org. Please also visit our neighborhood guides on Instagram for a list of schools in each neighborhood.
As a family of four, we have found that walkability to our school is one of our favorite things. Some other families choose to carpool in order to be at a school that is the perfect fit for their child. Whatever you choose, there are excellent guides along the way.
At the end of the day, though, we want to leave you with an encouragement: with an investment of a bit of your time, you can find a great school! Sometimes families hear only the worst stories: their friends’ child did not get into any of the schools they chose. In our experience, this is the exception rather than the norm. Our experience has been that most families do get accepted to at least one of the great independent schools that they apply to, along with an excellent SFUSD school. In fact over 50% of families receive their top choice SFUSD school. So although the process can be involved to choose the best school for your child, it is worth it in the end, and you end up forming a beautiful new community within your child’s school that will last years to come.
If you need resources to help guide you in this process, or want to strategize about the best school and neighborhood combinations, the Wilkerson Team is happy to be a resource to you as you navigate the San Francisco housing market.