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Summary of Public, Private, Charter, and Alternative Santa Cruz County Schools


One of the many questions that families relocating to the Santa Cruz area want to know is "what PUBLIC school district should I be in?" Click here for a map of school districts in Santa Cruz County along with school ratings. Here is a list of things to consider when evaluating a given school or school district:

- Academic Rankings

- Reviews

- IB (ex: Scotts Valley High) vs AP program availability

- Dual language immersion programs (ex: Soquel Elementary and DeLaveaga Elementary)

- Sports Teams and Extra-curricular activities

- Diversity of the student population

- Student-teacher ratios

- School safety

- Parent involvement opportunities

- Transportation, school schedule, traffic/commute (especially if transferring districts)

- Off-campus privileges (for high schools)

- College admission statistics

- Vocational training opportunities

The good news is that many schools allow inter- and intra- district transfers, so even if your dream home is not in the district you were hoping for, there may still be opportunities to transfer to a school you may have your heart set on. One school that does not allow any inter- or intra- district transfers is Mountain School in Soquel/Old San Jose Rd area.


Another question many families ask is "should I put my child in PRIVATE school?" or "are there any affordable private school options near me?" Santa Cruz County has an abundance of excellent private and charter schools, with price tags ranging from $1000-3000+/month. Some of these schools are religious-based (ex: Baymont Christian, Twin Lakes, Good Shepherd, Monte Vista) but many are not (ex: Montessori, Waldorf, Kirby, Gateway, Spring Hill, and Mount Maddona). Keep in mind many of the more expensive schools offer generous scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Also, for those on a budget, it is noteworthy that many of the religious-based schools can be much more affordable (up to 1/2 the cost) of non-religious schools. Click here for a list and ranking of Santa Cruz Private Schools.


There are also many excellent CHARTER school options, such as Pacific Collegiate School ("PCS"), which according to the PCS website has a 100% college acceptance rate and was ranked #1 public high school in the Greater Santa Cruz Area, #10 public high school in California, #22 charter high school in the nation, and #95 public high schools nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. Many of the local charter schools are highly coveted (such as PCS and Terra Pacifica), and as such offer spots on an annual lottery basis. Please click here for a list of local charter schools and make sure to plan ahead if you are interested in sending your child to one of these schools.


For parents with kids that need less traditional/more personalized education setting there are also many ALTERNATIVE and HOMESCHOOL options, a map of which can be found here and a detailed list of which can be found here.

For a ranking of all Santa Cruz County schools (public, private, or charter), please click here. For child-care resources for non-school-aged children, please click here. No matter what type of school you are looking for, we always recommend our clients to join local facebook parenting groups to find out about new education resources in the Santa Cruz Community. Many of these pages are very active and local parents can make direct recommendations based on their experiences.


As always, if you have any questions at all about moving to (or within) the Santa Cruz area, please reach out to us directly at 831.419.5852!