On the hunt for a good school district? Follow our steps to find the school that’s perfect for your kids.
Are you and your family looking to relocate soon?
Finding a good school district to buy a house in is no easy task. You want to make sure you get it right so your kid can achieve their greatest. Where do you even start?
To make the process simpler for you, we’ve made a list of the top six things to do when looking for a good school district.
Do your homework
It’s probably obvious that you should do some research, but depending on your values, this could be a crucial step. There are a lot of good resources for you to use to compare test scores and other data from various schools. For Wisconsin school districts, I recommend using WISEdash to compare different school districts. Although test scores don’t show everything, significant differences between districts may help your decision. Find out what kind of resources they have for special education and other supportive services. You may also want to look at other data, such as the number of kids on a free lunch program, local crime rates, etc.
Visit the school
A lot of schools offer tours and let you meet with the principal, teachers, and other faculty members. While visiting the school, pay attention to the overall feel that it gives off. Are the hallways clean? Is there student artwork displayed on the walls? Then, notice how the teachers interact with the students. Walking through the hallways will give you some insight into the relationships the teachers have with their students. Some teachers will let you sit in the classroom for a class or two. Are the students well-behaved and engaged? Or distracted and uncontrollable? While every class has a naughty kid or two, a trend of unruly classrooms is definitely a bad sign.
Check out the “extras”
Your kid could probably care less about the school ratings or what resources each classroom has. What they will care about is what fun activities and programs they can be a part of. A major differentiating factor between districts are the classes they offer beyond core classes- such as woodshop, foreign languages, and music. Before and after school programs vary between districts as well. One school might have a highly funded athletic program while another might focus on their musicals and art programs. Listen to your kid and seek out districts that offer what your child wants.
Ask the parents
Finding fellow parents who have experience with the school are going to give you some crucial information. While you are visiting the school, try to find some parents to talk to in the pick-up area or even at a busy coffee shop in town. Having an insider’s perspective will probably give you a less biased, or at least very different, view than talking to the principal. Plus, parents are most likely going to be very honest and upfront with any issues they might have. Don’t just ask them about the teachers and resources, but also ask about how their child fits in and if they are enjoying it as well. A good school will stand out from both the parent’s and child’s perspective, even if the kid doesn’t like doing their homework.
Know what you can afford
A good school district usually raises the value of the nearby real estate, as the area may be more desirable to families than others. The property taxes could also be much higher depending on the area. Of course, you want the very best for your kid, but make sure that you aren’t going bankrupt over it. Many middle and low-income school districts still offer a ton of activities for your kids and have competitive resources and teachers as well. The key point is how much improvement the students are achieving and how they feel, not how much money the school has. You can also choose to open enroll your child if you feel it is necessary, which may save you from choosing between an affordable house and a good school.
Trust your gut
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Choose the school district that you feel comfortable in. This is the place to nurture your child’s growth and successes, so you want to make the right choice!
If you’re in the market for a new home for your family, finding the right school district for your kid is probably a major concern. Do some research, talk to parents, and don’t be afraid to look around. You and your child will know if a school is a good fit or not.
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