Kate wrote a very thorough review of this school two years ago for her search. You can find it here at: http://thesfkfiles.blogspot.com/2007/10/buena-vista-alternative-elementary.html, or by clicking the name under "Schools Reviewed." You'll find the basic facts about the school there too.
The thing is, I visited too, and I think it was a not-so-good tour day. We didn't see any classrooms because the teachers were out on professional development (which I take to be good), and our tour guide was honest to a fault about the flaws. I appreciated that, but it also potentially underplayed the school's strengths. I liked *many* of the things that impressed Kate, so please see her review. Buena Vista continues, to my eye, to be a school with a first-rate Spanish immersion program, a creative and progressive feel, and a dedicated and well-organized parent community. There's a strong LGBT parent presence there, which is good for us, and the emphasis on the arts fits our family's strengths and interests. As I understand it, it's one of my area's "trophy schools."
But I also had a few concerns, and rather than assuming that my impression of the place was the sum total, I thought I would ask parents what they thought. I know it's a well-loved place and probably deservedly so. So:
1) Space. Does Buena Vista feel overcrowded to you?
2) Recess seemed loosely supervised, compared to many places with Playworks, game coaches, etc.: has this been a problem? Or is the school cohesive enough that bullying and kids getting isolated aren't issues?
3) How are those 10-minute lunch shifts working out for your kids? Do they care, or would they rather go play anyway?
4) The price of that lovely nearby park, fenced grass/garden area, and spiffy playground is an almost deafening amount of noise from the 101, 280, and Cesar Chavez. Do you worry about noise or air pollution, or are the room to run around on grass and the expanded gross motor opportunities in the park worth it?
I'm feeling hesitant because it seems that any hint of concern isn't well-taken on this board, and I know parents, staff, and administrators have poured their hearts and resources into these schools. At the same time, it feels disingenuous to post only positives and no negatives. I hope that putting my concerns in the form of questions will allow Buena Vista parents and staff to respond constructively.