We're homeschooling now but I'm considering school for next year. DS will be in 2nd grade. The school district here is awful. I always swore I'd never send him here. I had friends when I was a teen that went to school here and they confirmed it's as bad as everyone says. The graduation rate is awful and they are cutting their budget left and right. My friends with kids here currently are looking at their options to get them out as well. If you have any sort of SN or giftedness, you are out of luck, you just won't get what you need. I just can't go from being passionate about homeschooling and his education and just tossing him to the sharks (well, that's how I see it).
As it stands I will already have to drive DS to and from school. It's too far to walk and the route is along roads with no sidewalks and lots of curves, then up the busiest street in town. It's 1.5 miles there and back. I will be starting school in the fall and plan to schedule my classes around drop off and pick up times because I don't see another option (no busing due to budget cuts). We have a bunch of school districts within the 10-15 mile range. Some do not do open enrollment and some do. The best one (and closest) in the area does not, unfortunately. I'm wondering what other parents think is a reasonable commute time to get their child in a good school? I know my mom did 30 minutes each way for one year when we had to move out of the school district. That seems like so long to me, but I do appreciate that she did that for us. But with gas prices these days...eek!
There are other factors:
do you have younger children that get to come along for the ride?
You say you are going to school next year - any schools on the way to your school?
If my child's school was on my way to school - 1/2 an hour.
If I had to drive the child to school and then drive home before starting my day or had to bring little kids in the car - no more than 20 minutes each way. 1/2 an hour each way would mean 2 hours in the car total for my commute - which is just too much if it can be avoided.
I would also take into account any drop off procedures (there was a thread on TAO awhile back on parent pick up and drop offs and some schools are nasty - you will spend more than just your drive on pick up and drop off). I would also take into account the road conditions where you live. Where I live, roads can be unpleasant 4 months out of the year - and yes, those are school months. I regularly take 1/3 longer to go to work in winter than in summer.
Our dcn's charter is 13 miles away. Dh takes them in the morning since he passes it on the way to work--takes him 20-30 minutes depending on the traffic. It takes me about 15 minutes in the afternoon. If they hadn't gotten into this charter but the other one we applied to, it would have been about 40 minutes in the morning, plus the round trip for me, and about 20 minutes both ways in the afternoon. We live in a good district but had a bad experience in ds' K year.
Our school is 11 miles away, 20 minutes in perfect conditions. I average about 25 minutes each trip. Drop off takes an hour out of my morning, with pick up, I have to be at least 10 minutes ahead of school getting out to find parking, more time sitting and waiting. This is our third year doing this with no end in sight, we probably will do doing this for all of my kid's schooling lives. It wears on you, I do have 4 kids, 1 in school full time, 1 part time, and the other two are a baby and 2 years old. I do feel bad because we spend so much time in the car, add in after school activities that are all on the opposite side of town from the school and it is a lot of driving! We are very happy with the school so the sacrifices have been worth it.
DD is 4 and disabled. She has in-home nursing. I would schedule them to work any time I needed to be gone. They generally work 12 hour days which would cover pick up and drop off, plus the time I'm in school. The school I'll be attending is literally within walking distance from the house. Roads can be bad, but they do generally call off school for really bad weather.
One of the ones I'm considering is almost 11 miles away, and google maps says about 18 minutes. It's pretty much highway the whole way. It's the same school my friend is probably going to enroll her kids in next year, and I could ask her do bring him along, maybe give her gas money, but she has 5 kids of her own attending, plus a 2 year old, so I'm sure she won't have room for a tag-a-long, unless she leaves the baby at home with someone and let's the oldest ride in the front seat.
I need to call the school district for the next town over and see if they do open enrollment. That school is only 3 miles away and I've heard it's decent. ETA: Nevermind, they don't.
Right now i drive 30 mins one way to a school 12 miles away (mornings usually bad traffic). i also go to school and plan my classes around pick up and drop off AND volunteer time (i just have one).
Our school commute is all highway after we get out of our subdivision; that helps a lot. The route I would have likely taken to the other school has a lot of traffic lights and I avoid it whenever possible. Our school also has beforecare and aftercare.
I think it depends on how extreme the situation is. My kids go to a private school, and 30 minutes each way is normal. In a lot of families, one parents drops off and the other picks up. Many families use the before care or after care to get the schedules to work.
One child at our school has a 40-45 minute commute each way -- and her mother does all the driving. She has special needs and has been to other schools. This is the last resort. The mom is spending 3 hours a day just driving school, but her DD is doing well, which I why I said it depends on how extreme the situation is. No body should do I drive like that without trying other things first.
She's not the child at our school with the longest drive, though. That honor falls to a girl who lives 60-65 minutes away. Her parents work in town, though. So they drop her off and pick her up as part of other driving. Again, this was not their first choice for a school. They tried closer schools first.
But we did something more extreme -- we moved to be close to the school.
but everything has pros and cons
This falls under 'it depends'. Most schools have a 'carpool' list where you can find folks near you to join up with making your drive less. I would do an hour, which is what I do for activities for DS who is homeschooled. However that hour needs to be on my route to something else, work, school, an activity or carpool. 4 hrs a day is too much just for driving everyday, UNLESS its a last resort type of thing.
I also take into consideration miles. 60 miles each way can be an hour or 10 miles each way can be an hour. I would be more willing to do 10 miles for an hour vs 60 miles each way. I would also 'test' the drive, sometimes by adjusting times by 5-10 minutes you can save so much drive time. Say leaving at 700 vs 715 (700 gets you there at 730, 715 gets you there at 815 type of thing, drop off early and let the kids have time on the playground etc).
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That is where we are at. I would LOVE to move closer to the school, we are not leaving this school anytime soon but our house lost so much in last couple years that we are stuck. Still a dream of mine for someday.
Last year we drove 30-35 min each way for 1st grade for ds1 and preschool for ds2. If I wanted to spend any time in my home during the school day, it meant dd & I were in the car for 2 hours a day. Ds2 used to cry about being in the car so much. It was soul-killing for me. This year we are 5 minutes from the elementary school and 15 minutes from preschool and I feel there is so much more time in the day! 15 minutes each way would be my max if there is any possible way I could manage it.
yup that's what we did too. got the opportunity and moved now - for middle and high school (which will be 3 mins by bicycle). dd has one more year to go in elementary. so we have one more year of long drives still to do. she is in a decent elem. school and i wont move her now but instead choose to drive (or sometimes take the public bus - just to be different)
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We'll be looking at a half hour drive come grade 9 to get them to the bus that then takes them to school, but we can work that into our commute many days. That can make a big difference. Another factor is how close your schools are. Being in a rural area, it is not uncommon for some families to be an hour from the closest school, so in some cases we do have parents that drive over an hour to get to a preferred school. I try to do as much within my community and with less driving as possible, and there are some sports and activities my children do that are in walking distance or less than a 15 minute drive. We do lots of things that a rural location helps with (hobby farm, big garden, fishing, hiking, canoeing, sailing) but the price we pay is more driving. Some suburbs of large cities have similar issues (parts of suburban Toronto come to mind, I'm sure there's American equivalents). Anyway, the tolerance for driving is higher if it's part of your daily necessity. We have an amazing P-7 school in our location (truly a favorite across the school board) and the kids have a quick 15 minute bus drive there, so we have convenience for now. It's completely worth it to me that I'll have to drive them further to have a better high school. And, like Linda, we have considered moving closer when the time comes if it's feasible house selling and buying wise. But, if we can't, I'll roll with it. I want my kids to have choices (great science and math programs, interesting open level credits like agriculture, IB program, lots of languages) and I won't be able to give them those choices without driving.
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We presently drive about 20 mins each way and so far it has worked for us. While my DS is in school I run errands in town. I do have another little one and we have started doing a mom and baby class together. I think it all depends on if you feel the sacrifice is worth what you are getting.