Moving to the suburbs? If so, finding a great home in an excellent school district may well be at the top of your list. Even if you don’t have school-age children, keep in mind that a community's highly regarded public school system helps to ensure strong market value and a consistently high demand for property. Here are a few tips to get you started on finding the right school district for your family:
1. Visit the school district Web sites in the communities you are considering. It should provide such comprehensive information as:
- Number of schools in the district
- Size of each school’s student and faculty body
- Availability of learning support services and differentiated learning programs.
- Detailed curriculum information
- Disciplinary policies
- Athletic offerings
- Extra-curricular programs
- College acceptance rates and results
- PTO activities
2. Research school districts you are interested in at helpful online sites such as Education.com and GreatSchools.org, which will enable you to compare statistics for schools and school districts, as well as link to local community information and parent blogs.
3. Visit the Institute of Educational Statistics at nces.ed.gov, which analyzes data related to education and allows you to search for information about public and private schools, colleges, and libraries in your preferred community.
4. When evaluating and comparing school districts be sure to examine such indicators as:
- Class size
- Student-to-teacher ratio
- Standardized test results
- Number and range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses
- Average SAT/ACT scores
- College matriculation results
5. Some progressive districts offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in high school geared toward preparing students for a global education, which is often of interest to parents from other countries.
6. See for yourself! Because you want to be thorough, I suggest that you tour the schools you are interested in, interview faculty and administrators, and, if possible, talk to parents about their experiences and recommendations.
7. Finally, ask your Realtor about local property values and how they relate to the public school district. Your Realtor is prohibited by law from telling you whether a school is good or not, and cannot not steer you to one district over another. However, he/she may be able to give you the benefit of his/her personal experience, and can certainly put you in touch with other families in the area who have children in the school district, as well as local district officials, principals, teachers, athletic coaches, and past and current clients.
Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.fionadogan.com.