How to Choose the Best School District for Your Children
Relocating with school-age children (or children approaching school-age) can mean your new location may be dictated by their continuing education. Aside from the scope of the budget and type of house, parents often have to consider relocation areas based on school districts. Trying to weigh out housing versus schooling can become a real juggling act while trying to ensure that you make the right decision for your family.
If you are trying to choose the best school district from scratch, it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily, we are living in the information age, so it should be more straightforward. Here are a few simple ideas to point you in the right direction.
What is a School District?
‘A school district encompasses a specific geographical area with defined boundaries. In most areas, the head of the school district is called the superintendent. Each school district contains at least one school. Typically, a school district includes grade schools, middle or junior high schools and high schools. A school district’s boundaries may be the same as the boundaries of a city. Multiple school districts may exist in larger cities, and in rural areas, a school district may encompass several towns.’ (Source: thefreedictionary.com)
Type of School
Before you start your search you need to think about what you are looking for in a school. Obviously, any religious considerations or leanings toward to private schooling will narrow your choices. If you are looking for a public school, it’s important to decide how you feel about curriculum, ethos and educational values. Having these clear in your mind from the outset makes choosing a school district (and ultimately a school, a lot easier).
You may also have to consider school transportation. Is your preference to walk to school? Will you need to drive or rely on the school bus or public transport? If you have children at different stages of their schooling career will their schools be nearby? Will one school feed into the other?
Compare School District Websites
School district websites vary widely across the US. Cities and larger areas may have several school districts to choose from, while more rural areas will have less choices to offer. In your search for the right school district, the ideal is a district which has a good choice of schools and appropriate allocation of funding and resources. From a practical perspective, it helps if the school district website is easy to navigate and has the option to contrast and compare schools within the area.
Visit School Websites
Once you have narrowed down your choices, extend your search by looking at relevant school websites. This will give you a clearer picture of the type of school available and a feel for the administration of the school. Important points to look at include (but are not confined to), the admissions and application requirements, the curriculum, after school provision and extra-curricular clubs, and most importantly, the ethos and values of the school.
Consult Your Real Estate Professional
Your real estate professional, should be a good source of information, both factual and anecdotal about local school districts. They will have dealt with many families with similar concerns to yours, of course, once you have chosen your school district, they are perfectly placed to find you the right property too!
Take the time to visit schools that interest you within your preferred school district. Ask questions and try to get a feel for each establishment. The perfect school online may not be all that it seems in real life and vice versa.
There are a number of useful sites that you can use to assist you with your search for a school district. Have a look at the links below. Good Luck!