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3 things you should ask about school districts when you’re home-shopping

If kiddos are in your present or your future, you’re probably thinking about more than who has to share a bedroom.

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If you’re reading this article, I’m going to make some assumptions about you:

  • You have (or have thought about having) kids, in which case,
  • Public schools are up for consideration, and
  • You’re a current or prospective homeowner.

I am by no means an expert on schools or children (although I do deal with both on a daily basis). And I certainly wouldn’t try to advise you on what kind of school district is “best.” But I do advise you to investigate a few school-related questions if you’re looking to purchase a home and actual or theoretical children are involved.

1How far is the home located from the schools in its district?

5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes? The further your home is from the area schools, the earlier your kids (and you!) have to wake up each day. Do you live in a place where it snows? I do, and I remember not just 1 or 2 but a handful of times our school bus broke down or got stuck in a ditch due to icy road conditions. And don’t forget about all the driving back and forth to soccer practice, play rehearsal, school dances, PTA meetings, booster club events, etc. Just make sure you understand — and can live with — what you’re getting yourself into. Fresh country air is great, but so is convenience. Which matters more to you?

2Is the school district big or small?

Do you care about Division 1 high school football games? How about the quality and choice of cafeteria lunches? Have you considered your ideal teacher-to-student ratio? Does the school district have 3- or 4-K programs and after care? There are pros and cons of both large and small schools, and I suggest you do a bit of research on them. Some kids will blossom in a smaller environment with lots of staff attention, while others thrive in large schools that have a wider variety of curriculum, activity and peer group options. Whether large or small, a sign of a good school district is where parents are actively involved in the school community and the majority of the students are achieving at a high level.

3What’s the neighborhood like when it comes to kids and families?

Okay, so this question isn’t directly related to school districts, but it’s still important. Does the neighborhood where the prospective home is located seem bustling and kid-friendly, or is it peaceful and quiet? In my own experience, I’m grateful we live in a neighborhood with lots of kids and other parents around to help keep an eye on mine. I feel connected to the community and school district, and we all rely on and support each other. That being said: my neighborhood is crazy! Fun, but crazy. As in I already have a migraine at 10 in the morning why are you kids always yelling crazy. I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anyplace else – but you may prefer to live in a quieter place and just transport your child to hordes of yelling children as needed for stimulus. As with 1 and 2 above, it all comes down to knowing what you’re getting yourself into.