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Would/did you move to get into a better school district?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
So, I'm not necessarily looking for personal advice here, but curious to hear others' thoughts on this issue.

We live in a mid-size city that we love. We've lived here for about 4.5 years and have a 1.5 year old DS. We love our neighborhood and we've definitely built our life here - favorite restaurants, our gym, playgroups for DS, favorite grocery stores, etc. are all wthin a 2-3 mile radius. We have one car and DH commutes via bike and/or public transit.

The schools aren't great. They're getting better, and there are several good options for elementary school, including a magnet that our neighbors have been happy with and a new charter school that other parents are raving about. Beyond elementary, the prospects are a bit more grim.

We've been thinking about selling our house and moving, because we're outgrowing our house and would like a bit more room. Ideally, we'd stay in our neighborhood, but the idea of moving to the suburbs - well, one suburb in particular - has come into play. The main motivation for doing so is the schools. The schools are fabulous - like, #4 in the state. Great teachers, sports, extra-curriculars. And there are the other traditional suburban benefits, too - more house for the money, bigger yards, lower taxes, safer communities.

On one hand, living in the suburbs just feels like a headache. We'd have to get a second car and DH would have to commute in traffic (currently it takes him less than fifteen minutes by bike). Everything I do as a SAHM is in the city, and I have a hard time picturing myself getting psyched up to come in every day. More time in the car for everyone. Fewer people that we relate to, ideologically.

But then, sometimes I feel like the obvious choice is to move, for DS's sake. Like we're being selfish - the suburb less than ten miles away has such excellent schools, but we're staying in the city to keep our lifestyle and making him deal with less than great schools. I'm sure we'd adjust, and find new routines, right?

How do you decide? Does the quality of the schools trump other factors?
post #2 of 29

to me the quality of the schools does NOT trump other factors. I would never move solely on a school and/or school district being ranked as such.  

 

So what if the school is good if the rest of your life is miserable which in your case it sounds like it would be.  The cost/hassle of owning 2 cars, your husband getting less time at home due to now having to commute, the cost of that commute, etc.  Yuck.  However if all those things were OK to you and you loved the new neighborhood, loved the town (great library maybe, lots of open space, etc) loved the house so that the entire cost benefit was good than a great school would be the icing on the cake.

 

Quality of life is way more important than a good school district.  Even in the best schools half of the students are in the bottom 50 percent of the class. winky.gif

post #3 of 29

It depends. Is there something special that the school district would bring?I say this because while the school district we live in now is fine, if we move into any of several nearby towns, we would have the option of language immersion starting in K or 1st grade. It would make our commutes slightly worse, but seeing as I can't provide that, we think it may be worth doing.

 

 

 

post #4 of 29

We didn't move, but we did make the decision to send our son to a different school district.  Which means we drive him there every day.

 

At the moment, I'm somewhat regretting that decision.  He's got a questionable teacher this year, which, while the school itself is great, is making our lives absolutely miserable right now.

 

In your shoes, I wouldn't make this decision right now.  Alot of things can change in the next 4 years.

post #5 of 29

I did make a short move to a better school district. The difference of just three miles was not too much that I couldn't see my old friends and gained a much better school for the kids.

 

I live in a suburb. I like yards.. sue me. I am 20 minutes to downtown by bus though. I get the benefit of city life without the noise and crime.

post #6 of 29

I wouldn't move without checking out your school options in your current neighborhood.  School ratings can depend on some strange factors, and sometimes represent the socio-economic background of the kids entering more than the school itself.  Highly ranked schools may be great if your kid is a great fit for their program and doesn't need a school path that is somewhat outside of the norm.  Sometimes they can be less likely to think outside the box since what they are doing is already so great.  A lower performing school may be more interested in seeing what they can do to help your child really shine.  Obviously these are generalities and don't always apply.  

 

However, I know of a 'top' ranked high school near us, that is ranked so highly in part because they have a large percentage of kids taking AP classes.  But they have a low number that actually pass the exam and that isn't considered in the rankings!  They also bragged about the high PSAT scores from their 9th graders.  Well, the school started at 9th grade and had only had them for a couple months when the PSAT rolled around.  So obviously this is much more indicative of where the kids came from than this school's contribution to their academics.  :-)  It's not a bad school, but from our experience with the school, I would take their high national ranking with a grain of salt.  

 

post #7 of 29

If the elementary schools in your area are good & getting better I would NOT move at this time.

 

Your child is only 1.5.  You have 3.5 years BEFORE he starts school.  Then you have 7 years of elementary(including kindergarten).  

 

That is 10.5 years for those middle/junior/high schools to catch up to the level of the elementary schools & in that amount of time they most likely will.

 

If they don't, you can look at moving then.  I would not base a housing move on something that may or may not occur in a decade.

post #8 of 29



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieMF View Post

If the elementary schools in your area are good & getting better I would NOT move at this time.

 

Your child is only 1.5.  You have 3.5 years BEFORE he starts school.  Then you have 7 years of elementary(including kindergarten).  

 

That is 10.5 years for those middle/junior/high schools to catch up to the level of the elementary schools & in that amount of time they most likely will.

 

If they don't, you can look at moving then.  I would not base a housing move on something that may or may not occur in a decade.



Yeah I agree with this. You have a lot of time for changes to be made in those schools.

 

We did move because of schools but also because of the overall amenities and quality of life in the new town. If I had loved all of those things in our old town I wouldn't have moved just for the schools. But it was a combination of factors that made us move.

 

post #9 of 29

I wouldn't move just for a school, but it isn't unheard of around here for people to do creative things to get their kid into a neighboring town's school if they don't like their own. I know several people that rent apartments in a different town so their kid can go there even though they live somewhere else. This can get a little dicey, but it happens. I do NOT like the school where we live. We would never move because of it, but we are very lucky that I teach in a better school and dd will be allowed to start K there next year because of it.

 

OP, just like someone pointed out that a lot can change by the time your DC is in school, the reverse is true. If you moved into a better school's neighborhood, things could go wrong at that school in the same amount of time. There are so many factors that effect the success of a school.

post #10 of 29

I would not do it,but I do think it is a good idea if your area schools are not open enrollment.

 

Looking into schools I would want to live someowhere that already had newer buildings.Our city is building new schools and just passed levies,so hopefully there will be no more increases in property tax to cover the schools. My kids are in private school,and then they  will homeschool once we are done with the private. Aside from taxes I do not care about or support the public schools. Most have open enrollement and most are crying for more money via levies. If they don't get their money they will start cutting programs.

 

Sometimes renting seems like a better option,because you can just move if your local schools are not meeting your needs.

 

 

post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieMF View Post

If the elementary schools in your area are good & getting better I would NOT move at this time.

 

Your child is only 1.5.  You have 3.5 years BEFORE he starts school.  Then you have 7 years of elementary(including kindergarten).  

 

That is 10.5 years for those middle/junior/high schools to catch up to the level of the elementary schools & in that amount of time they most likely will.

 

If they don't, you can look at moving then.  I would not base a housing move on something that may or may not occur in a decade.

 


I know this is probably the correct answer. We sort of got on this train of thought because we're tired of our house and have the means to move now, and it seems silly to buy again in the city if we want DS (and subsequent kid/kids) to end up in the 'burbs. But, we should probably stay in the city and give the local schools a go. We have at least three options that I feel comfortable with so far (two magnet and one charter) for elementary.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post

to me the quality of the schools does NOT trump other factors. I would never move solely on a school and/or school district being ranked as such.  

 

So what if the school is good if the rest of your life is miserable which in your case it sounds like it would be.  The cost/hassle of owning 2 cars, your husband getting less time at home due to now having to commute, the cost of that commute, etc.  Yuck.  However if all those things were OK to you and you loved the new neighborhood, loved the town (great library maybe, lots of open space, etc) loved the house so that the entire cost benefit was good than a great school would be the icing on the cake.

 

Quality of life is way more important than a good school district.  Even in the best schools half of the students are in the bottom 50 percent of the class. winky.gif



I agree with this, thanks for bringing it up. And of course, there's no guaranteeing that a kid will be happy, even if it's the best district in the state.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ecoteat View Post

I wouldn't move just for a school, but it isn't unheard of around here for people to do creative things to get their kid into a neighboring town's school if they don't like their own. I know several people that rent apartments in a different town so their kid can go there even though they live somewhere else. This can get a little dicey, but it happens. I do NOT like the school where we live. We would never move because of it, but we are very lucky that I teach in a better school and dd will be allowed to start K there next year because of it.

 

OP, just like someone pointed out that a lot can change by the time your DC is in school, the reverse is true. If you moved into a better school's neighborhood, things could go wrong at that school in the same amount of time. There are so many factors that effect the success of a school.



Just wondering, how common is this? I plan on going to work at some point after our kids are in school, and I'm certified to be a school librarian. I've been curious about this, but I've not found any information about it. Is it common for kids of teachers in a district to be able to attend those schools, regardless of where they live?

post #12 of 29

My own story would be that just because one school district seems better from the outside, it really isn't a guarantee.  You can still have bad teachers/principals in a seemingly good school district. You can have great teachers in a so-so district. What you do as parents makes a big difference, no matter where you live.

 

We had a couple rough years in our "good school district".  I found school administrators.board members quick to sweep the problem areas under the rug at our school, because overall the district does very well,

 

I live in a university community where some parents are heavily involved in their kids' education to the point where they are practially homeschooling them outside of the traditional school hours.  I think this masks some of the problems we have with poor curriculums etc.

 

I'd agree that a lot can change in a few years.


Edited by Coral123 - 5/23/12 at 12:10am
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coral123 View Post
My own story would be that just because one school district seems better from the outside, it really isn't a guarantee.  You can still have bad teachers/principals in a seemingly good school district. You can have great teachers in a so-so district. What you do as parents makes a big difference, no matter where you live.


I totally agree. We moved last year and having the kids at the right school was a HUGE part of our decision. But our kids are older, my kids spent a couple of days at the prospective school before the move, and we had long meetings and phone calls about one of my kids (who has special needs). We felt very confident that we were making the best choice for our kids, and were very comfortable basing our decision around them.

 

But at this point, you really don't know what the best school for your child would look like because your child is just too young. You'd be basing your decision on a generic child rather than the real kid(s) you have/want. For the most part, a large suburban school with a great reputation would be a nightmare for one of my kiddos because she is overwhelmed by large groups and would make an easy target for mean girls. I don't buy that there is one *best* school for all kids.

 

If you think that you have decent option until middle school, then I would put off making a choice that ties you until a particular district as long as possible. It's a decade away, and what seems good/bad now might end up being very different from what seems best when the time comes. Private school, which is an option that you haven't mentioned, may be more doable for your family a decade from now. There may be new options -- new charters or magnets -- that come to light between now and then. The suburban school could get a reputation for drugs or sex. Things change.

 

I know too many families who've moved to be in *better* areas to find that their idea of better wasn't in line with why the area had a *good* reputation.

 

post #14 of 29

The school district is one of the biggest factors in deciding where we live.

 

When we decided to build a house after we got married, the first thing I did was look at the school districts and decide which districts were the best fit for us-not necessarily the school's "ranking" or anything like that, but I researched curriculum, grad rates, etc, the stuff that was important to me.  Then, when I found the districts I liked the best, THEN we started looking for houses/floorplans we could afford in those districts. 

 

I personally believe that having your child in the school you want (ie one that fits with your curriculum goals etc, not necessarily one "ranked among the top in the state" or whatever) is way more important than an ability to walk to the grocery store or park or whatever.  Drive time isn't so much an issue for me, some of the best conversations I have had with my daughter have been on half hour drives to drop her off at work.

 

 

Quote:
Does the quality of the schools trump other factors?
To me, my personal judgement of the quality of the schools DOES trump other factors.  Other's assessments of the school quality does not. 
post #15 of 29

I would move to leave a district that I knew was sub-par or unsafe, but other than that, no.  And I agree that if you're happy now, I'd wait til you are actually in the school system to see what you think.  DD is in a great school, great rankings, all that, but I find it deeply mediocre.  I am really glad I didn't base my house purchase on the school district, or I'd be deeply disappointed right now.

post #16 of 29

Statistically, the biggest predictor of a kid's school success is his or her parents and their level of education. So within reason, I don't think the school makes that much of a difference, at least for elementary age.  If the school is safe, and your child enjoys it, and you are happy there, I think that matters.  The other things you mentioned - living in a walkable area, not having long commutes, those things matter, too.

 

We are in the process of moving from an inner city neighborhood that we really like into the burbs.  I'm not all that happy about the move because I love this neighborhood.  We will now have longer commutes and live in our cars, and that bums me out.  No park in walking distance.  But the schools where we live now are amongst the worst in the state.  80% of the students are ESL, which means most of the effort and time will be spent on teaching kids English.  Their scores are the worst.  Otherwise, we would stay.

 

post #17 of 29

 

Quote:
 Statistically, the biggest predictor of a kid's school success is his or her parents and their level of education. So within reason, I don't think the school makes that much of a difference, at least for elementary age.

 Now see, to me, I think the school, especially in the elementary age, makes a HUGE difference in the level of education a child actually acheives in the end.  Yeah, a child who is successful in elementary school can run into lots of trouble in the upper grades and not graduate, but a child who is poorly educated as a young child is very likely to struggle and not continue to persue education as he/she gets older.

post #18 of 29


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MsFortune View Post

Statistically, the biggest predictor of a kid's school success is his or her parents and their level of education. So within reason, I don't think the school makes that much of a difference, at least for elementary age.

yes and no. white kids with college educated parents preform better on standardized test than other kids. So if you move to be in a district with good test scores, there's a really good chance that you child while be going to school with mostly white kids with college educated parents.

 

Whether or not this means it's a better school is very debatable. Stats show that those kids would test pretty well inspite of what is going on at school, so may be not. At the same time, if you have group of parents who value eduation and work with their kids outside of school, it makes it much easier for the school to do a great job  -- the kids are more likely to come to school ready to learn and knowing that they really ought to try to behave because their parents and teachers are all on the same page.

 

What school is really doing the best job is VERY hard to measure. When we were checking out school districts, I found it fascinating to look at test scores broken down into different groups -- how do the kids who qualify for free/reduced lunch do? How do minority children do? etc. In some states, all this info is required to be on the school's web site.

 

A funny thing I've noticed about the *best* school district in our current city -- there are tons of tutoring centers. It's curious to me how much of their high test scores are related to the schools, and how much is related to outside tutoring. I'm not sure that a tutoring center on every corner speaks well of the school district. The test scores are high, but are they that way inspite of the schools? If so many parents are willing to pay for and drive to extra tutoring, does that mean that parents in the schools see problems in their education that their kids are getting at school?

 

And all of that misses the point that one style of education can work well for one child, but completely miss the mark for another. Some kids need more structure, some less. Some learn learn from projects, some need new information presented in a very logical way.

post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Addie View Post

Just wondering, how common is this? I plan on going to work at some point after our kids are in school, and I'm certified to be a school librarian. I've been curious about this, but I've not found any information about it. Is it common for kids of teachers in a district to be able to attend those schools, regardless of where they live?

 

I don't know. I used to teach in MA and that school allowed it, which was great for teachers who couldn't afford to live in the Boston suburb I taught in. Now I teach in Maine and when we were just negotiating the new contract, it was added in. It was an unofficial thing before, and from the moment everyone knew I was pregnant they all assumed I would bring her to my school, but now the language is in there clearly. It was copied from a neighboring town's contract, and I think it isn't unusual around here. I think if a librarian position was covered under that school's teacher contract it would probably be a good possibility. I have no idea if schools ever offer that perk to support staff.

 

As far as what factors matter for where a family chooses to live and schooling and all that, while I agree with PPs that the parents' education and the child's home life has everything to do with a child's academic success, these articles are interesting too: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/opinion/13kristof.html?src=me&ref=homepage and  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/business/economy/28leonhardt.html. Now if someone could figure out a fair and accurate way to determine what defines a high-quality teacher, we'd be all set!

 

But then again, I really do believe that a K teacher is very important in a child's development. But that could have very little to do with the school as a whole. "Excellent" schools can have dry, uninspiring K teachers, and run-down struggling schools can have amazing, loving, dynamic K teachers. You really just don't know.

 

post #20 of 29

Someone mentioned curriculum earlier.  Schools change curriculums regularly, so what might look like a good solid curriculum might completely change in a year.  At least where I live, I think it would be really hard for a parent without school age children to get a good grasp on the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculums in our school district, simply because most of the information on the website is very vague.  Or if it isn't vague, it is worded in such a way that not every parent can understand.  Our district has curriculum cycles of 7 years, so that means every year one area is under review, and will be changed or modified.

 

An individual teacher can tweak a curriculum  to make it better.

 

Even so my kids are 4 years apart, and things are definitely different for my younger child than how they were presented to my older kid.

 

I'm not a professional educator, so some things were a total surprise to me.  My older child had the Investigations/TERC materials used as the basis of the math curriculum for her first few years of elementary.  It is something that at first glance, looks good on paper, but when you see how it is executed in the classroom, it is really troublesome.

 

If you are looking at a school website, and there are a lot of buzzwords there like constructivist, whole language, invented spelling...I'd be asking some questions.

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