Author Topic: Moving within town for elementary school zone?  (Read 894 times)

meerkat

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Moving within town for elementary school zone?
« on: June 08, 2017, 06:44:56 AM »
I'm not sure if I'm overthinking this or what.

We're currently looking into renovating our kitchen with a $25k budget. It was something that we knew would need to be done eventually when we moved in almost eight years ago and we're just now getting around to it. We're meeting with a second GC next week to get his thoughts on our house, we've already met with one and were not impressed with them. I jokingly mentioned to a coworker that we've been browsing MLS listings for fun because it might just be easier to move than live through renovations and she asked if we knew what school zone we're in. We currently have a two year old and are going through IVF for a possible sibling, so the school zone matters but wasn't really on my radar because it feels crazy to be thinking about school zones when our son is only two. My coworker suggested we tour a couple of elementary schools and let them know we were thinking of moving within town and that our son would be starting kindergarten a few years down the road.

Other factors:
- My son is slightly physically delayed (he's not walking 100% independently yet at two years old) so I wonder if he might need a mandated educational assistance plan. I don't think it would be anything major but it would be better to have it than not have it. Then again maybe he won't need it in three years? He hasn't even been alive for three years at this point so who knows what the future will hold? Anyway, it has me wondering which schools are better at handling exceptional kids.
- We're currently zoned for School A but are in a weird pocket of zoning. If they adjust the school zones at all in the next few years we may also end up at School B or School C.
- We currently live in a good part of town in regards to library access, parks, dog walking trails, grocery store is around the corner, etc. but it's not walkable. Then again there's not much in our area that would be walkable so that's unlike to change.
- We're 25 minutes away from work and if we moved we'd probably end up moving closer to work just because of how our town is laid out, but I don't know how much longer I want to keep working here. If I changed jobs I'd probably still have a 25 minute commute so this is probably moot?
- We have a dog so I want a fenced yard. Either we're going to have to only look at houses with fences already or pay $$$ for a fence.
- A LOT of the houses around here were build in the 60s and 70s. Our current house was built in that era. That means they generally all have small kitchens in need of renovation, so we're right back where we started on the kitchen reno issue. More modern houses tend to be McMansion-y types with tiny lots and HOAs, none of which we're a fan of.
- We bought our house for $150k as a short sale, as a ballpark I'd say it's worth $175k now. We've put on a new roof and would do a bare-bones renovation on the kitchen ($10k or less, new cabinets are a must) prior to moving. We would need to figure out how much we'd be willing to spend on a new house, but it'll definitely have to be more than $175k to get most of what we want. One of the things I like about our house now is that it being cheaper (relative to our income) gets us closer to FIRE. As it stands we're currently 10+ years away from FIRE.

Am I overthinking this? (Probably.) Is there some factor I should be focusing on above others?
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Stachetastic

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Re: Moving within town for elementary school zone?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2017, 08:43:54 AM »
We're in a very similar situation as you, but a couple years in the future. (Even down to the kitchen reno!) We are in a 1957 ranch we got for a steal 3 years ago and are tentatively planning a new kitchen, but are also wondering if we will be moving for our son's school. Our situation:

--Son is 5, Autistic,  and starting kindergarten this Fall. Due to issues with our home district the past 2 years in Pre-K, we are open enrolling. We have been accepted into our district of choice, but they are not going to provide an aide. (He needs a classroom or shared aide, not one-on-one). The district told us this week that if we lived in the district they would be forced to "make it work" with an aide.

--We currently own 2 rentals in our district of choice, but neighborhoods and the properties themselves are not as nice as we currently have, and would not be much cheaper. Even if we moved, we do not feel confident the district would magically give us what we think our son needs, and even then we're not entirely sure what his needs will be in kindergarten.

We have been dealing with this all since last fall and it seems like in our situation, things change on a dime in regards to the schools and what they are willing/able to provide. We purchased our current home 3 years ago before we realized we had a child with special needs. Had we known it at the time, we would have actively avoided living in this school district based on their reputation for serving special needs students. We thought we'd give them a fair shot in Pre-K, and our experience was consistent with what we'd heard through the years.

So, none of this may even help you, but our plans have been in constant flux for almost a year while we research, gather info, and then gather more (usually conflicting) info. You don't have any way of knowing what your son's needs will be once he starts school, so it is very difficult to plan and communicate this to prospective schools. Every district is different, and every building within the district is different. I would advise you to stay flexible and be prepared to make the best decisions based on the information you have at the time.


mm1970

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Re: Moving within town for elementary school zone?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2017, 01:54:29 PM »
Visit the schools, and talk to parents and friends.  Some areas of the country have schools that are all similar, some have a wide variety of quality.  And by "quality" I mean "percentage of poor people".

Our district has School A.  It scores a 10/10.  Everyone wants to go to that school.  Their PTO raises $600,000 a year.  $125,000 in the first month.  Their kids get EVERYTHING.  They also have the gate magnet program for the district for 3rd-6th.  So 25 kids 3rd, 4th and 30 5th, 6th.  Meaning of all 10 elementary attendance areas, any child identified as GATE can elect to try and transfer there.  About 75 kids are identified at end of 2nd grade, but many parents don't want to transfer.  Still it's a lottery for those 25 spots.

All of this is important because test scores, which is how you come up with that 10/10, are based on the entire student body, INCLUDING the magnet program, which pulls kids from ALL areas.

There are 3 schools within 0.5 to 1.0

School B scores a 3/10.  High percentage of poor students and English learners.
School C scores a 2/10.  Even higher percentages.
School D scores a 5/10.  This is the school we are attending.  Our school has the developmentally disabled magnet program.  Like GATE, it doesn't mean you HAVE to come to our school (you can stay in your home school), but we *do* offer many more services than the other schools.  Because we have two full classrooms of disabled kids.  (And yes, even kids who cannot hold a mouse have to go through state testing...um...is it any wonder that our scores are lower on average?)

If the schools that you are looking at are all similar, I probably wouldn't worry.  IF you have the option to transfer, I might not worry.  (We transferred from School C to School D.)

I hear you on the remodel though.  I've got a small, old (1947) house.  Oh, I dream of adding a second toilet, or a couple hundred more square feet.  I think about moving to the city near where we work.  Better schools, more space, an HOA that has a pool and a gym.  Ahhh... I'm probably too lazy to move though.

meerkat

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Re: Moving within town for elementary school zone?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2017, 06:06:03 PM »
I hear you on the remodel though.  I've got a small, old (1947) house.  Oh, I dream of adding a second toilet, or a couple hundred more square feet.  I think about moving to the city near where we work.  Better schools, more space, an HOA that has a pool and a gym.  Ahhh... I'm probably too lazy to move though.

Yeah part of why we casually browse the MLS listings from time to time is to avoid "the grass is greener" type thinking. Sure we could get an awesome dream house ... if we wanted to be house poor and push retirement even further away. But having a pool would be so nice... and the perfect house lay out .... and a yard that never required mowing .... and hidden treasure in the backyard to totally cover the cost of the house ...... ha!
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mm1970

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Re: Moving within town for elementary school zone?
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2017, 11:11:04 AM »
I hear you on the remodel though.  I've got a small, old (1947) house.  Oh, I dream of adding a second toilet, or a couple hundred more square feet.  I think about moving to the city near where we work.  Better schools, more space, an HOA that has a pool and a gym.  Ahhh... I'm probably too lazy to move though.

Yeah part of why we casually browse the MLS listings from time to time is to avoid "the grass is greener" type thinking. Sure we could get an awesome dream house ... if we wanted to be house poor and push retirement even further away. But having a pool would be so nice... and the perfect house lay out .... and a yard that never required mowing .... and hidden treasure in the backyard to totally cover the cost of the house ...... ha!
I know. Some of my oldest friends in town live in a particular HOA.  2 pools.  Gym.  About 1 mile to work (nevermind riding a bike, we could walk!)  2 blocks to elementary school. Easy bus ride to junior high and high school.  Close to the beach and Costco and grocery shopping.  No homeless people.

BUT...a house in there is $300k more than our house, and would give us a $650k mortgage at the lowest.  Not to mention $11,000 a year prop taxes.  Sigh.

Lepetitange3

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Re: Moving within town for elementary school zone?
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2017, 06:40:26 PM »
Because you're not certain whether your child will need special services or not, your best bet is to assume he will and identify the right school based on that now.  In some areas, exceptional students all get assigned to the one school that caters to them in the area.  If that's the case, it won't matter where you are zoned for.  In other places, every individual school has its own program, some better, some worse.  Go explore now.  If moving puts you in a better position for your child's education than consider it seriously, especially since you also said it will move you closer to work by default.