Researching Schools Before You Buy
If you feel the schools are a key factor in where you choose to buy a home - you are not alone! A new survey from Realtor.com found that 78 % of homebuyers favored a great school district over the perfect home. 73% percent of buyers said good school districts were important in their home search. Today we will explore a few ways to find out more about a school district or a specific school.
Take a Tour
As our Savvy Tip suggested this week, if at all possible, take a tour of the school and meet administrators and staff. *We know this is not always possible for military families, however It is hard to replace the first-hand experience. Most schools are open during the registration season as well as during the school year. If you have narrowed down your home search to a few homes, you may want to try to take a tour of the school before committing to a home. Even if you cannot take a tour, you should try to call the school and have a list of questions (i.e. how does the school handle bullying, what are some of the popular clubs, how are the periods divided, etc.). Sometimes administrators will even have a few parents they know that would be able to talk to you about the school.
Connect with People
Talk to people who have children in the district or school that you are interested in. Join a local Facebook group or try to get in contact with PTA members who can give you some inside information about the school. When possible, private message those that are willing to tell you about the district or school so that they know that their comments are private, which may mean they are more honest about their responses. Asking on our Buckley pages is a great way to get some parent perspectives also.
Do you research by checking the ratings and reviews for the district or schools. GreatSchools.org has loads of content including test scores and parent insight about teacher quality, principal leadership, and parent involvement. The district and school websites can help you find out exactly what you need to do to apply and how schools are assigned. Check Facebook and Twitter to see if the school has an account that you can follow. Also, check news articles to see if any important information comes up about the school. This can be as simple as opening the news tab in google and doing a basic search for the school. You can also search local news sites that may not come up in a google news search. Parents4PublicSchools.org is another great resource for navigating the public-school system if there is a chapter in the area you are looking at. Keep in mind, Standardized Test Scores are only ONE measure of a school and read the actual parent comments as well. Schools which are more multi-cultural can often have lower testing scores simply because English is not a first language for some of the students. I know if I had to test on anything in a second language I would do poorly – how about you?
Back Up Plan
Try to have a backup plan of a school that may be a possible alternative to the school that you ultimately pick. School Choice exists in many districts in Colorado, however the cut-off dates are other very early. Make sure you know if it is possible to apply to another area school if the school that you apply to doesn’t work out and check to see if any other possible school choices are space available in the event that the school isn’t a great match for your child.
Integrating in the New School
Are there clubs or hobbies your child enjoys? Does the school have a Science Club, Drama/Theater etc you child can join to meet new people? If your child loves sports, is there sport well-represented at the school? The good news is that there are many newcomers in our area so there are lots of opportunities to be welcomed and to welcome new kids throughout the year. You as parents can help with integration as well by volunteering in the classroom or for special events as you have time! To ease my son’s transition to middle school I photocopied and collated papers in the break room one afternoon a week – all the staff and faculty got to know me even though I was not directly in his classroom.
I hope this information will help you with your home buying journey!