When you're looking for a new home, you're not just considering the house itself. You also have to consider the neighborhood and the school district that your potential house is located in. While it can be difficult to know how your child's new school will measure up, there are some things you can research to ensure you're happy with your choice.
The National Center for Education Statistics can be a helpful place to start. You can search by city to find a list of possible schools. After clicking on a particular school, information such as demographics, student/teacher ratio, and enrollment is shown. This can help you decide if the school is small enough or offers the personal attention that you would like your child to have access to in the classroom. It's important to note the year that the data comes from in case the statistics listed are not as recent as you would like.
Another online option for checking statistics is SchoolDigger.com. Using many statistics from the NCES site listed above, SchoolDigger offers their own ranking system, a place for parents to rank the schools, and also a place for parents to leave reviews. If high schools and future colleges are on your watch list, another interesting site to check out is the U.S. News and World Reports rankings. Offering both state and national rankings, the site bases its numbers on the test scores and college readiness of students in the district.
When you have your search narrowed down, visit each school's individual website. Look at things like curriculum, school schedules, number of extra-curricular activities offered, additional staffing, and parent involvement opportunities. Some schools actually offer video tours on their website, while others may be available on YouTube.
If you're really unfamiliar with an area, your real estate agent may be able to point you in the direction of local parenting groups who can offer insight or your agent may be able to offer advice of their own. You may want to try spending some time in the area to really get a feel for it. If you do, don't be afraid to ask any moms that you encounter at the local parks or the local recreational centers. You may be pleasantly surprised by the good things they can list off the top of their heads.
Online forums and social media can also be used to gather input from other parents involved in the school district, though you should be sure to look at everything you read with a bit of skepticism. Take any questions you have about what you read online directly to the school district.
Schedule a Visit
When it comes down to it, you have to see for yourself. Call the school districts that you are interested in and ask to set up a meeting with either the principal or the school counselor to get a tour of the school and find out exactly what it can offer your child. This is a great time to ask any questions you have about what you've discovered in your prior research. It's also the best way to find out more about specific policies regarding discipline, student progress reports, lunch options, bus routes, and technology use. You might also want to pay attention to security measures, age of the facility, recess areas, and the neighborhood directly surrounding the school. The tour experience may just finalize your assessment of the district.
When considering a home purchase within a particular school district, online research, word of mouth, and a school visit are invaluable to making a confident decision. You not only want to feel secure in your home, you want your kids to be safe in school while receiving the best education available to them. When you've found a great school district and a great home, contact a trusted lender for a great home loan.