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St. James Academy

Private | PK-8 | 271 students


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Living in Solana Beach

Situated in an urban neighborhood. The median home value is $702,500. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,870.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
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4 stars

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Based on 15 ratings

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35 reviews of this school

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Posted November 6, 2010

Each person we have encountered, from the principal to the staff and teachers, to the parents, is dedicated to the children of SJA and their education. This is anything but a typical school. SJA embodies all of the things that most parents seek for their children an excellent education in an environment where children are nurtured and encouraged to grow as individuals and as members of their school and broader community. We have felt welcomed at this school from the very first phone inquiry. Our children have attended an excellent public school and another Catholic school. Having this frame of reference allows us to appreciate the educational experience our children are now receiving. Every day I drive past the excellent public school and several other private and parochial schools to get to SJA. Our children wish they had been at SJA all along, and so do we.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 18, 2010

Those two recent reviews sound like they were written by a St. James staff member. Many parents have removed their children this year. The phrase "in droves" is not an exaggeration. Most of them have left during the sixth grade year. The sixth grade class is taught by two women who couldn't be more inept and apathetic. Their classroom atmosphere is negative and demoralizing. During Back to School night, one joked that she would be pocketing the tardy fees they are now charging the parents, then said "Cha-ching". Socially awkward, punitive and mean-spirited are apt descriptions of these two. The new principal is similar. You can bring concerns to her attention, but she will do nothing. She is well aware of the problems but either too intimidated or too disinterested to make any change. They can continue to bump up their ratings. Word gets around outside of Great Schools as well.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 15, 2010

St. James is top notch. We are thrilled with the learning environment and education our children are receiving. The teachers are first rate and the principal is effectively executing her vision for the school. New programs have been introduced that augment the core curriculum. The school has struck a great balance with challenging the kids, while making learning fun. Our children enjoy their classmates, teachers and the overall learning environment.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 15, 2010

We interviewed 4 private schools before selecting St James Academy. This was several years ago and we are extremely pleased with our decision to attend this school. We have two children and both have flourished in this academic and spiritual environment. The curriculum is challenging and well rounded. In each classroom, we have found the teachers to be strict but nurturing. The current Principal, now on her second year, has made tremendous gains in all respects. We feel very blessed to be members of this community.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 13, 2010

Disagree with poster below. I think they are making up their "info". New principal has made major positive changes-- both academically and socially. School has a welcoming feel for students and parents. My older child was extremely well prepared for Cathedral, especially in math.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 20, 2009

St. James is above the norm when it comes to academics. I do agree with the one poster who said that some teachers should have retired years ago. There is one in particular that comes to mind. It is obvious that she no longer enjoys teaching or even likes children. If you are not able to volunteer many hours or spend your every waking minute at the school, you will feel excluded by the other helicopter moms. It's a tight knit clique of mini van SAHMs, definitely a 'who you know' situation. However, as stated earlier, the education is superior compared to other schools in the area. So if you're looking for a sense of community and are not the cookie cutter St. James mom, I would not recommend the school. However, if your only priority is your child's education, there is no school better.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 17, 2009

We have great teachers, talented and smart children, and a very strong parent community. SJA families are always there for eachother and are constantly striving to improve the educational needs of their children and foster the faith of parish.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted July 24, 2009

This school does not stress academics. Very disappointing to spend so much money on children's education, but for the children to be lagging so far behind children from comparable schools in the area.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 18, 2009

As one mom put it -'If this is a big happy family, why do I feel like a stepsister?' It all depends on who you know if you'll feel included or not. Some teachers clearly should have retired years ago. If you had any complaints, they were not heard - it was like hitting a brick wall. Unfortunately we did not love the school and are so glad we left when we did. It was disappointing.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 28, 2008

SJA's small population cultivates an amazing sense of community among the students and parents alike. The school successfully grooms the students to assume additional levels of leadership as they move through the grades, resulting in an extremely confident, competent group of students at graduation. Recent changes at the school have included some new teachers at the 7th and 8th grade levels that are adding a new level of challenge and academic rigor, which the school needed, IMO. The size of the school is a huge benefit, as the students feel very comfortable in their environment, allowing for maximum success in their learning. We have been very happy at St. James, and look forward to more years of success there. If your student has special needs requiring aid (such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.), SJA may not be the place for you, as the public schools have many more resources available.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 2, 2008

This school is a bit fast moving, and my student complains that there is no time in-between classes to get your books, and you never get free-dress
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 13, 2008

I do not think that the principle at this school is very organized, or has any impathy for her kids
—Submitted by a student

Posted February 2, 2007

My two boys were successful at St. James and continued their success in a tough curriculum at a Catholic high school. The strength of staff at St. James Academy and the leadership of their principal are incredible. This school is the best kept secret in the north coast! When your children attend SJA they are joining not only a spiritual community but becoming a member of a larger family. I highly recommend it.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 25, 2005

All three of my kids went to St. James. One has graduated from Villanova U, one is still at Villanova and the last is a senior in h.s. They were all well prepared for rigorous high schools and were not overwhelmed by any subject. St. James' academic programs were tough, but the kids were given the tools to achieve their best. They have a great music program, the upper grades have an excellent art teacher and there are Varsity & JV sports throughout the year. There are lots of opportunities to be involved and the principal/teacher/parent communication and interaction is excellent. The school has a fantastic principal, Donna Kruzona. Exellent administrator and really cares about the kids.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 27, 2003

excellent school that truly cares about your childs education.
—Submitted by a parent

Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.

About these ratings

The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school State average
White 77% 26%
Two or more races 14% 3%
Hispanic 5% 52%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 3% 1%
Asian or Pacific Islander 1% 11%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0% 1%
Black 0% 6%
Source: NCES, 2011-2012

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Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)

School facilities
  • Computer lab
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School basics

School Leader's name
  • Ms. Kathy Dunn
  • Coed
  • Roman catholic
  • NCEA


Specific academic themes or areas of focus

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  • Religious


School facilities
  • Computer lab
  • Library
Partnerships with local resources and organizations
  • Diocese of San Diego
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623 South Nardo Avenue
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Phone: (858) 755-1777


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