Are you just beginning the search for a school for your San Francisco child?  Below you will find some information and online resources we found helpful in our own school search. 

San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)
SFUSD provides a number of online resources, including this helpful guide to getting started:

With all questions about school assignment and many other matters, a separate non-profit organization, Parents for Public Schools, is a hugely helpful organization. Here is their page about enrollment:

You may have heard that SFUSD does not have zoned schools or attendance-are schools. It's complicated. In fact, every address is within an attendance area and does have an attendance area school. But having an attendance area school doesn't mean you are guaranteed a spot for your child at that attendance area school--you still need to list it on your application. The map below shows these boundaries:

You can look up your attendance area school here:

Some areas of the city (known as CTIP1 areas) confer a special priority for residents in the SFUSD lottery--because those areas have had children with low test scores. Are you in a CTIP1 area? The interactive address locator will tell you:

You may be curious about language programs. Your options include dual language immersion programs, such as Claire Lilienthal (Korean), Alice Fong Yu (Cantonese) or Starr King (Mandarin), as well as many others, and schools that are not immersion programs but have foreign language in the curriculum, such as the Clarendon Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program (JBBP). A number of schools (including Alvarado, West Portal, Claire Lilienthal, Clarendon, and Starr King, as well as others) run two tracks within the same school, where one track is a citywide language option and the other track is a attendance area or General Education school. Some schools also offer biliteracy pathways for children for whom English is not a first language. Here is some more information from Parents for Public Schools about foreign language programs in SFUSD schools:

If you have questions about options and enrollment for children with special needs, you may want to check out this guide: 

All elementary schools have a middle school that students can feed into in 6th grade. Here's some more information about that process:

Charter Schools
Charter schools in San Francisco do not participate in the SFUSD school assignment system or lottery. We are aware of three charter schools that serve elementary grades; all are K-8:

Creative Arts Charter School (CACS)

Mission Prep

New School of San Francisco

Thomas Edison Charter Academy (TECA)

You may want to contact them directly for their enrollment procedures. We know that TECA has done a first-come, first-served kind of enrollment process (as early as October in recent years), so it might pay to check that school out early.

If you have particular questions that can't be answered with the resources above, we recommend contacting Parents for Public Schools. You should also feel free to send an email to and we will see if we can provide some answers or create a post for you that seeks out the wisdom of the K Files readers. 


  1. Hello,

    I have a question about tuition assistance. We are a middle class family and have two good incomes but tuition at an independent private school still feels out of our reach. We have applied for tuition assistance at 2 schools, CAIS and Presidio Knolls where the tuition is about $24,000 roughly. But there's also after care and summer camp to consider which would add another $5,000 roughly.

    My question is, do any middle class families get tuition assistance? And how much does it hinder the board's decision to accept a family? These schools seem to have their pick of families and even though all say they are "need blind" it's hard for me to believe they'd choose us over a family who can pay full tuition AND make generous donations.


    thank you!

  2. The school boundary map link up above is broken:

  3. Wondering if there is anyone currently at Burke's or Hamlin who can speak to the after school programs - enrichment programs as well as basic after care. Would love to hear insights on quality, variety, cost, etc.