Open to Alternative Schooling

I want to bring the Open Alternative School to the attention of parents of elementary school–age children in the Santa Barbara area. Open Alternative School is a school of choice for all families looking for a different educational environment. It is an open enrollment school available to all elementary school–age children, including transitional kindergarten. Families outside the Santa Barbara Unified School District can apply for an interdistrict transfer to Open Alternative School (OAS).

Families have chosen to send their children to OAS because they want the educational environment OAS provides, and they feel their academic needs are being met. OAS has been implementing the four Common Core goals of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking since its inception in 1975. As other schools move toward implementing these standards, it would seem that OAS is a model for these educational goals and offers a unique educational opportunity for Santa Barbara families looking for an innovative, project based, interpersonal experience.

Restorative approaches to problem solving are modeled in daily class meetings. All students participate in art, music, and drama, which includes producing class plays. OAS has a spectacular organic garden that students work in weekly. Produce is often used in class cooking projects and also donated to La Colina Junior High School’s kitchen for use in school lunches. Learning is made relevant, and assessments are performance based and drive instruction.

OAS is a parent participation school. Helping in the classrooms, driving on the many field trips — including environmental camping trips — and teaching enrichment classes are a few ways parents are included in their childrens’ education. Special days for the school include a “Day in the Park” to celebrate Earth Day, an all school Sports Day, and a last day of school Pancake Breakfast in a park.

These are just a few of the things that make Open Alternative School special. Please check it out on Facebook and at

Love where you learn.

Dennis Koski is the parent of two alumni of OAS and retired after 13 years as the school’s health assistant.

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