If you have children and have decided are moving, the summer months are usually the time many families will make the move. Why? To try to get settled before school starts.
While you’re searching for your new home, you’ll want to look into the local school systems to make sure your kids are getting the quality education that’s so essential to their success as adults. Managing a long-distance evaluation of school districts while also shopping for a new home can feel like a challenge, but it’s actually easier than you ma realize. There are a few things you can do while you’re in the area touring homes, or even from the comfort of your own home, to research the quality of school districts in your desired area.
Ask Your Real Estate Agent
If you are looking for houses through a real estate agent, don’t be afraid to ask for any information he can give you on the school systems in the area. If he has children of his own, he’s already gone through this process and can give you some valuable information. If he doesn’t have information on hand, he may be able to lead you in the right direction. Since you’re already trusting him to help you find the perfect home, why not trust him to help you find the perfect school system for your kids? Also, ask your the agent if he happens to know which school system the kids of the owners of the homes you’re looking at attended. If they weren’t enrolled in the school zoned to their district, it could be an indicator that the performance of that school leaves something to be desired.
Visit Nearby Schools
What better way to learn about a school system than by visiting it? You can get a tour of the facility, meet with the teachers your students would have if they were to attend and meet with the principal to get answers to any questions you may have. Take notes at each location so you will know the pros and cons of each to compare later. If you get any negative vibes from the leaders of a school, you’ll know to avoid that district or to look into it a little closer before choosing. Go to the school with a list of questions already prepared so that nothing slips your mind. Ask about extracurricular activities and the availability of sports programs, the average class size, and the school’s performance on state-mandated standardized tests.
Make a Phone Call
If you don’t have the time to take tours of the schools or stop by each one, in your free time at home, you can make phone calls to the schools to ask the same questions you were going to ask if you were there in person. Write down the answers of each and again make a pro/con list and do a comparison, but be aware that it’s not as easy to get an accurate feel for the environment if you haven’t experienced it firsthand.
Ask people in the neighborhoods you’re considering what they know about the surrounding school systems. No one knows better than another parent which schools are the best. If you don’t feel comfortable going door to door, you might see if you could meet with the Parent/Teacher Organizations of each school district you are considering. They should be more than willing to meet with you. Keep in mind that their information may be biased toward their own school system, though. You may also want to visit the playgrounds with your kids in between looking at houses if they’re accessible. It’ll keep your kids from fidgeting too much during the house hunting process and will give you the chance to look around.
Pick Up Information
Pick up the local newspapers to see what has been happening in the nearby school systems. There may be some schools that are trying new things that you may be interested in learning more about, like online classes or peer tutoring programs. Brush up on what’s new to find out if the school system seems to be generating positive news. Each school should also have pamphlets of information you can pick up that will contain some valuable information.
If all else fails, look online. Community message boards can give you an idea of what’s going on the the local schools. Student standardized test scores are usually available online, too. Look for any school reviews by parents of children attending those schools, and check the websites for specific school districts to get a feel for how they present themselves.
While diligent research regarding the quality of local schools can make your house hunt seem even more complicated, it’s an investment that will pay off in the end. Your kids’ education builds the foundation for their adult lives and future success, so you owe it to them to make the best possible choice.