Author Topic: stuck in a bad school district  (Read 26197 times)

show me the money

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stuck in a bad school district
« on: October 06, 2015, 12:45:04 PM »
Hello all,

My dw and I purchased our house in 2010 as a short sale, got a decent price at the time, had no kids, didn't think we would be able. fast forward 3 years, have our first child and now need to think about schools, we refinanced to get out of pmi that same year and also dropped our payment, i always put a little extra toward the principal each month as well.   

The school district in my area is the worst in the county, my job is about 4 miles away, my dw only 1 mile. but daycare puts us further, we have been looking in the area of where our daycare is, and that would actually decrease my distance from work, but increase dw's. this would put us in a much better school district, one that we grew up in. we also hate the area we bought in, it was a mistake for us, and long before we found MMM.

The problem is, based off the real estate that sold in my area, we do not have enough of the mortgage paid down to walk away free and clear without putting more money out. i can hold out for another 2 years if need be and try to sell then, i don't know how well we would be there. i max out my 401k already, dw contributes to her pension, trying to max ira's, but after that there is really nothing left. do i lower the 401k that i'm putting in, or try to scrape up more money elsewhere.  and do i put that extra money towards the mortgage to get the principal down so we can hopefully sell it in a year or two? or do i make just a little extra to the house, and bank the rest in savings for larger down payment/money on hand to get out?

 i have a great deal of fear that i am going to make the wrong move and not be able to get out, i want a better school district for my son. a little closer to our family too


honeybbq

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2015, 12:46:00 PM »
Is private school an option?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2015, 12:47:44 PM »
How old is your son? You don't need to worry about school districts until he'll go to kindergarten, so if he's a baby you have some time.

Easye418

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2015, 12:59:32 PM »
First off, congrats on your son, especially when you thought you couldn't have kids.

Second, BREATHE.  You seem to be in a prime spot.  You are maxing out all of your retirement options it seems.  That alone is great.

Third,  How long until your son goes to school? Is private school an option?

Fourth,  make a financially sound decision and a decision that will make you happier in life.


Kaplin261

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2015, 01:03:09 PM »
Hello all,

My dw and I purchased our house in 2010 as a short sale, got a decent price at the time, had no kids, didn't think we would be able. fast forward 3 years, have our first child and now need to think about schools, we refinanced to get out of pmi that same year and also dropped our payment, i always put a little extra toward the principal each month as well.   

The school district in my area is the worst in the county, my job is about 4 miles away, my dw only 1 mile. but daycare puts us further, we have been looking in the area of where our daycare is, and that would actually decrease my distance from work, but increase dw's. this would put us in a much better school district, one that we grew up in. we also hate the area we bought in, it was a mistake for us, and long before we found MMM.

The problem is, based off the real estate that sold in my area, we do not have enough of the mortgage paid down to walk away free and clear without putting more money out. i can hold out for another 2 years if need be and try to sell then, i don't know how well we would be there. i max out my 401k already, dw contributes to her pension, trying to max ira's, but after that there is really nothing left. do i lower the 401k that i'm putting in, or try to scrape up more money elsewhere.  and do i put that extra money towards the mortgage to get the principal down so we can hopefully sell it in a year or two? or do i make just a little extra to the house, and bank the rest in savings for larger down payment/money on hand to get out?

 i have a great deal of fear that i am going to make the wrong move and not be able to get out, i want a better school district for my son. a little closer to our family too

Is it possible one parent could stay at home and home school your son?

justajane

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2015, 01:07:06 PM »
Is the school district dangerous? If not, I would consider staying there through perhaps kindergarten. Usually schools are ranked low due to test scores at the higher levels. I can't imagine that one or two years in the district would "ruin" your kid. This would give you more time to figure out what to do.

Kindergarten is mostly about coloring and learning a few letters, numbers, and early reading. I can't imagine the district is bad enough to get that wrong, unless we are talking about a heavily disadvantaged district.

Are you in a buyer or seller's market? I would try to time your move around that, since presumably where you are moving is going to cost more. In other words, if homes are currently selling like hot cakes and getting multiple bids (like they are in my neck of the woods), if you wait a year or two, this might slow down a little.

I'm confused about how, with a short sale five years ago, you don't have enough equity to get out. Is the neighborhood really going downhill? If so, I would alter my advice and tell you to get out ASAP.

merula

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2015, 01:08:17 PM »
How are you underwater after a short sale with extra towards principal? Has the market in your area really tanked that badly?

You mentioned that your son was born 3 years after you bought your house in 2010. I'm going to take that to mean that he's 2. So, as ShoulderThingThatGoesUp mentioned, you have some time.

The way I see it, these are your options:
  • Sell now, taking out a 401(k) or other loan to cover the difference you owe. Rent in the area you like while directing savings away from retirement and towards old house loan repayment and new-house down payment,
  • Stay where you are, but redirect savings to extra principal payments. When you can get out free and clear, sell and rent in the area you like while saving for a new down payment.
  • Figure out a way to get your son into the better school district. I've heard of districts using daycare address as a basis for enrollment. I've also heard of parents reporting an office location as their home address. (This is probably not legal.)
  • Accept that the difference between the "worst [kindergarten] in the county" and the kindergarten one town over is probably not all that much. If you want to move for personal reasons (you say you don't like the area), then look at it from that perspective. What kind of a hit are you willing to take to your retirement plans to live where you want? At the elementary school level, it's not really about academic achievement anyway.

MoonShadow

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2015, 01:20:15 PM »
Hello all,

My dw and I purchased our house in 2010 as a short sale, got a decent price at the time, had no kids, didn't think we would be able. fast forward 3 years, have our first child and now need to think about schools, we refinanced to get out of pmi that same year and also dropped our payment, i always put a little extra toward the principal each month as well.   

The school district in my area is the worst in the county, my job is about 4 miles away, my dw only 1 mile. but daycare puts us further, we have been looking in the area of where our daycare is, and that would actually decrease my distance from work, but increase dw's. this would put us in a much better school district, one that we grew up in. we also hate the area we bought in, it was a mistake for us, and long before we found MMM.

The problem is, based off the real estate that sold in my area, we do not have enough of the mortgage paid down to walk away free and clear without putting more money out. i can hold out for another 2 years if need be and try to sell then, i don't know how well we would be there. i max out my 401k already, dw contributes to her pension, trying to max ira's, but after that there is really nothing left. do i lower the 401k that i'm putting in, or try to scrape up more money elsewhere.  and do i put that extra money towards the mortgage to get the principal down so we can hopefully sell it in a year or two? or do i make just a little extra to the house, and bank the rest in savings for larger down payment/money on hand to get out?

 i have a great deal of fear that i am going to make the wrong move and not be able to get out, i want a better school district for my son. a little closer to our family too

Is it possible one parent could stay at home and home school your son?

+1
I was just about to mention this path.  It's the one my wife chose.  Turns out that, where we were living at the time; the combined costs of daycare, a second commuter car, extra gas & commuting expenses, lunches out & taxes ate up almost everything that my wife earned.  This is at Proctor & Gamble in a job in her degree field, so I'm not talking about a job a Wal-mart, either.  The end result would have put her net wages below minimum wage, anyway.  She never regretted her decision, and by becoming a (highly educated) SAHM, my career became both the only income AND the only consideration with regard to many family decisions.  Such as, move cities for a better paying job in my field.  Change shifts to capture additional shift pay.  Open my schedule for maximum overtime.  There were other, less significant, decisions that were made easier by focusing on a single, high-income breadwinner rather than the modern standard of two middle class incomes.

Also, consider taking a 401K "loan" to pay your mortgage principal down enough to avoid a short sale.  Whatever you get from the closing, put back towards your 401K loan.  Don't reduce your 401K deductions unless you have to in order to pay the 401K loan.  Yes, you will miss out on some potential stock market gains in the meantime; but since you are paying the interest to yourself, think of the loaned funds as part of your bond portfolio.  Even still, pay it back to yourself as quickly as possible.

druth

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2015, 01:31:16 PM »
Are there any non-neighborhood schools worth considering?  Charters/magnets/etc?  I live in a bad school district, but there is a GT magnet nearby and tons of charters of varying quality.

CanuckExpat

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2015, 01:35:29 PM »
Check your local and state regulations regarding out of district enrollment / transfers.
Sometimes they are set up such that you are eligible to enroll in the school district in which a parent works, not just lives. Also there may be a a regulation allowing or requiring enrollment in another district if your home district tests particularly badly. YMMV, but it's worth checking out. I don't think many people explore that option.

How old is your child? If he is a three year old, you still have lots of time. Also, if he is older, is it really that much of an issue at kindergarden, grade 1, etc?

When you say bad school district. Does it just mean tests scores are low, is it undesirable for posh people, too many kids of wrong socioeconomic status / color (slight editorializing here). Or is it physically unsafe as in knife fights in kindergarden?


charis

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2015, 02:14:42 PM »
Sound like you have many reasons for wanting to move, but, in case it helps, this is our experience in a "bad" school district:

We live in the "worst" school district in the state and our oldest just entered kindergarten this year.  Our public elementary school is diverse, socially, economically and racially, 80% of the students qualify for reduced or free lunch, and it is completely safe.  I can report that after a month of school, she is loving school, making friends, and working on writing, literacy skills, math, science, music, art, learning, and playing.  It's almost like a real school ;)

mm1970

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2015, 02:36:14 PM »
This depends, and I'm going to echo some of the earlier posters.

1.  Are you underwater?  If you bought in 2010 and a short sale, I'm not sure how this is possible, unless the market dropped even more.  (2010/ 2011 was kind of the bottom of our local market).  Do you not have at least 5-6% over what you paid for it? 

Or do you mean that after you sell the house, you wouldn't have enough of a down payment for the next house?  Because that's a little different. 

2.  How much money are we talking?  Example: we are in a crappy school district.  Did not have kids when we bought the house.  A similar house in a better school district was $150,000 more.  Private school is about $13-15k per year.  So, that's 10 years of private school.  Elementary school is only 7 years.  Cheaper to buy the cheaper house and do private school if you only have one child.

3. Define "bad school district"?  I am in So Cal.  The only real way I'm able to judge school district is by test scores - hey, it's a number.  So to give you a sample of our local elementary schools:
School A: top school, scores a 10/10 in school rankings.  Predominantly white and English origin speakers, <20% of students on free lunch.  GATE magnet program there.  All of these factor into their "superior" test scores, plus their wealthy parents raise $250k per year for extras.
Schools B and C: close to school A in demographics, score around an 8 or 9 out of 10.
School D: half Caucasian.  Half Latino.  About 40% English learner, about 40% on free lunches.  These categories sometimes overlap.  Scores a 6/10
School E: 20% Caucasian, 80% Latino.  60% English learner.  70% on free lunch.  50% bussed from the city. Scores a 3 or 4/10
Schools F, G, H, I: >95% Latino, 85% English learner, 95% on Free lunch, so all students get free lunch.  Scores a 1 or 2/10
School J: magnet transfer school, traditional, wears uniforms, year round school, mostly Latino. Scores a 4 or 5/10
School K: magnet transfer school, fluffy, loosey, not terribly academically rigorous alternative school, mostly White.  Scores a 3 or 4/10

Now, you cannot really compare the test scores fairly at all.  Test scores tend to follow money and language.  You cannot "fairly" say that school A is awesome, because they have the GATE program, so GATE students from ALL schools transfer there.

If there is a reasonable number of students in the various categories, they break it down by group. That's where you get useful info. 
Now, I live in CA.  No child left behind means open transfers allowed.  But there's never actually room for transfers.  Unless you want to go to the fluffy school K.

School A has room for about 15 transfer students per year.  Priority for transfers goes to children of teachers, siblings of students already there, English learners attending a bad school, etc. etc., ending with "everyone middle class".  This school is hit or miss. I know many families whose elder children went there, but no room for the younger.
School C doesn't even have room for the students in their district, so many of their students have to go elsewhere.

Anyway, we are in district of, let's say, G.  We attended this school for preschool.  We opted to transfer for kinder.  Because honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted my kid to be one of 7 white kids in the whole school.  Our friends kept their daughters there.  And tried to convince everyone to stay (30 families transferred out).  They eventually left, as did the other family down the street.  It's hard to attend a school where most kids speak Spanish, and where they cannot communicate and the education is not geared toward them.

We transferred to school E.  Huge educational challenges in our school.  How to teach to the English Origin kids (which apparently is pretty easy, because our "English Origin" test scores are as high as every other school in the district, including School A.  This, my friends, is why I looked at the details and the demographics before we transferred.)  How to teach the English Learners, who are often poor, bussed in, live in multi-family apartments, don't own books, have parents who don't speak English, etc.  Our school, honestly, fails at this.  There is only one school is the district whose test scores for this demographic are worse than ours.

And then there's the money issue, as district / state funding does not cover art, music, PE, computers, or science.  It's very hard to raise enough money to provide these for the school, so we just shrug and figure we'll do our best.

So, how bad is the school, really?  Unsafe?  No kids like yours?  Because in the next town over, I have friends who make disparaging comments about their own school districts, and their overall scores are WELL above the school that we TRANSFERRED INTO.

My son is thriving in school E, where he's definitely a minority, and many students are poor, on free lunch, etc. 
« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 02:39:54 PM by mm1970 »

show me the money

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2015, 03:03:20 PM »
Wow lots of replies, looks like you all need more info.

 As far as one of us staying home, maybe, my issue there is the health insurance is through my wife she is government so good benefits, and we each have health issues. and my job pays for all the savings and such.

 My son will be three beginning of next year so i know we still have some time.

as far as being underwater we are not, but close, we did not have the 20% down only like 3.5 or 5% i cant remember, then we refinanced and that added a little more back on the loan but got rid of PMI and lowered our payment, the refinance happened the same year i discovered MMM a few months later. wish i didn't refinance at that point. we owe about $144k but the realtor thinks that we would most likely get right around 150 and might have to give sellers assist. i dont have the 20% for a the new house but can get in without pmi again based of specials they are running. i know we should have the 20% down, but i also have no other debts, both cars paid off, i do have a small loan out for concrete work that i had to have done (fix the front steps that were falling apart and the whole sidewalk/driveway which also was falling apart, badly. (we have a corner lot).

my fear with putting more money into the house is that in a year we could drop another 10k into the mortgage and the houses could be going for 10k less, and i'd be right back in the same position. there is a private school that we are interested in, close by, closer than the sitter, i think its $10k a year. the houses we are looking to move to while a little more money have twice the land, a second bathroom, not attached, and the taxes are actually less for the much better school district.

to give you all some more info, the district i am in total is 4/10 the k-6 is a 3/10 and 9-12 is a 5/10

where we are looking to move to is an 8/10

i know i am worrying a lot about this cause first child and all so that makes me extra crazy.

acroy

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2015, 03:03:28 PM »
+1 Homeschool. for many many reasons. It rocks.

mm1970

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2015, 03:06:10 PM »
Okay, then I probably wouldn't stress TOO much about a 3-4-5, at least not in my experience.  My child is thriving there.

Also, it's not unchangeable.  You can always move later.

justajane

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2015, 03:22:04 PM »
to give you all some more info, the district i am in total is 4/10 the k-6 is a 3/10 and 9-12 is a 5/10

where we are looking to move to is an 8/10

i know i am worrying a lot about this cause first child and all so that makes me extra crazy.

What do these numbers actually mean, though? Have you taken a tour of the school or talked to the district? For instance, my school district isn't ranked that highly, at least not compared to neighboring districts, but that's because we have disadvantaged kids. 50% of the school is on reduced price lunch. I actually think this is an asset for the school, rankings be damned. Exciting things are happening in our district, and I'm proud of it. The district you are in could be total crap, but I wouldn't decide that based solely on arbitrary numbers.

startingsmall

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2015, 04:05:37 PM »
Glad to see this discussion, because we're going through similar mental gymnastics right now. Keep the good feedback coming!! 

Daughter is 3... current elementary school is ranked 3/10, considering downsizing to an area that would give us elementary schools ranked 4-5/10 but those areas would then have lower ranked high schools than our current area (5-6/10 vs 8/10). I know the rankings don't mean much, but I was fortunate to grow up in an area with excellent schools (my elementary school is currently ranked 10/10) and so it's hard for me to estimate the effects/differences that these schools will have on my kiddo.

MoonShadow

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2015, 06:34:55 PM »

 As far as one of us staying home, maybe, my issue there is the health insurance is through my wife she is government so good benefits, and we each have health issues. and my job pays for all the savings and such.


Please expound on what you mean here.  My wife & I have two natural kids, and three adopted.  We started adopting because 1) my wife was not finished with kids and 2) both of us have serious genetic disorders that, once we knew for certain we had them, would have been irresponsible to continue to have children with the risks of propagating those disorders.  I was diagnosed with my father's genetic disorder at about 27 years, and he, and all his brothers so far that have come anywhere close to 60, have died from it.  My father was the oldest of 8 siblings.  My wife's condition was only confirmed in herself when my son was born, because she is a (until that point) non-symtomatic carrier.  My son was born without irises.  None.  Amazingly, he can actually see, but has required many corrective surgeries and daily eyedrops of several types to regulate his eye pressure and maintain his vision.  Stopping wouldn't kill him, but it would kill his vision, quite permanently.  Today, my wife takes these same eyedrops, and for the same reason, even though she actually does have irises.  I take three drugs daily, to keep my condition from progressing.  My daughter seems to have no health issues.

All this, which has been ongoing for more than a decade, (my son is 13) and I could still prove to my wife, mathematically, how we would have been no worse off using a HSA instead of regular insurance.  Granted, we wouldn't have been better off, either; but not worse, if we had been using an HSA that entire time.  I could also prove how, no matter what happens after the third year, nothing could bankrupt us in one terrible year.  Every three years of savings into an HSA, with me doing my best to cash flow medical expenses & preserving the HSA balance, gives me another year that I can't be bankrupted.  I'm in my second year of the HSA now.

Are your health issues worse than that?

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2015, 06:56:24 PM »
+1 to actually visit the school.

Our son is 4 and needed to go to public preschool to get speech therapy. We had heard bad things about the turnaround school near us (lots of the teachers had quit, parents complained about a loss of community feeling, they went to very formal discipline procedures, etc.). It's "accredited on watch." And they use iPads. In preschool.

Then I went in to visit and just really liked what I saw in the preschool. Yeah, some teachers left. The ones still there seem really engaged and committed. The classroom was large, sunny, and well set-up. They only use the iPads for a few minutes a day of individualized letter learning. The teacher I talked to was so committed to the school, he had his whole family there--his wife had come to teacher there from another school, and they enrolled their own tots.

So don't judge by the numbers!

mr_orange

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2015, 07:13:09 PM »
Do you have a FHA or VA loan by chance?  If so, those are fully assumable with the permission of the lender.  Assuming your loan is one of those you could advertise it with seller financing and probably get rid of transaction costs. 

You could also sell your property subject-to the financing to someone else and continue to make your mortgage payments yourself.  People often do wraparound mortgages for this.  This violates the due-on-sale clause in your loan, but these are seldom enforced.  There is certainly risk in doing things this way and it would be an option for a conventional loan.  Hopefully you have a VA or FHA loan. 

charis

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2015, 07:45:47 PM »
to give you all some more info, the district i am in total is 4/10 the k-6 is a 3/10 and 9-12 is a 5/10

where we are looking to move to is an 8/10

i know i am worrying a lot about this cause first child and all so that makes me extra crazy.

What do these numbers actually mean, though? Have you taken a tour of the school or talked to the district? For instance, my school district isn't ranked that highly, at least not compared to neighboring districts, but that's because we have disadvantaged kids. 50% of the school is on reduced price lunch. I actually think this is an asset for the school, rankings be damned. Exciting things are happening in our district, and I'm proud of it. The district you are in could be total crap, but I wouldn't decide that based solely on arbitrary numbers.

We are at a 5/10. It's our first child.  We spent many months on this decision and we are very happy.  Numbers are meaningless without context.

cchrissyy

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2015, 08:02:26 PM »
yes, actually visit the schools and talk to parents.  It's not really about test scores or "x out of 10" on great schools.

relax about this a couple years

try out the currently assigned school for K and 1st. I would absolutely bet you that it will be lovely.



if you really want this other district, see what their policy is to accept transfers. sometimes just working in town will qualify you to transfer in.

if you do move, you don't have to buy again.  how are rents in the other town?  and by the way, does your current house make sense to keep as a rental?

MrsPete

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2015, 08:38:10 PM »
Visit the school before you make any decision.  I teach high school, and we essentially have two schools inside the same building:  A portion of our students are very involved in advanced classes, are using technology, have opportunities for clubs and leadership opportunities ... and another portion just sits through the day, bored to tears, retaining little.  Our test scores don't really portray the reality of what goes on inside our walls. 

So, visit. 
I was just about to mention this path.  It's the one my wife chose.  Turns out that, where we were living at the time; the combined costs of daycare, a second commuter car, extra gas & commuting expenses, lunches out & taxes ate up almost everything that my wife earned.  This is at Proctor & Gamble in a job in her degree field, so I'm not talking about a job a Wal-mart, either.  \
I'm always surprised when people say the math ends up this way.  When we had our first child, so many magazines touted this option, pointing out that "an evening with the calculator may show you can actually save money by staying home!" ... yet I was solidly in the black, even after daycare and the other expenses of a child. 

alsoknownasDean

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2015, 01:08:58 AM »
What about renting it out and then either renting or buying in your chosen district?

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show me the money

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2015, 07:11:49 AM »
More information.

 they don't have many programs if any at the district i am in, such as no AP classes, entire class size is usually only around 100 kids each year, so they all more or less take the same class. my wife started there and eventually moved out to the district we want to be in where there are many more options for languages, mathmatics, drama, choir and so on, the district we are in do not offer a lot of those things. as far as safety, i am sure it is fine. my wife works in the same town, and the town i work in is worse for school, so no switching schools based off that.


to the person who wanted clarification on health, what we each have is manageable but expensive, surgery and non generic medication expensive, so we wont give up the health insurance, not yet anyway. i don't really want to discuss my actual medical problems. We don't pay out of pocket for the insurance, so we are still better off keeping her job. plus her pension will be fully vested in about 11 yrs.

for the person who asked about the price difference in houses between the two districts, we bought ours for 160ish, and the houses we are looking at now in the much better schools, are between 180-250, we have found several right at around 200-215 that we like, with taxes ranging from $1000 less to the same for the much bigger expensive houses which we are not interested. the 200-215 area would be a little bit bigger with a second bathroom, double the land which is great for our gardening, we love growing and eating our own food, and lower taxes.

Rentals in the area would be more expensive than buying


Thank you all for the replies, i absolutely love this community, and am so happy i found you all :)


Based off of what i have found, it looks like children need to be 5 by September 1st to go into kindergarten, so that would not be until 2018 for my son, i think i can definitely breathe much easier now, as we seem to have quite a bit of time.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 07:56:22 AM by show me the money »

charis

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2015, 08:36:03 AM »
I think it's fine if you want to switch districts, but I wouldn't write it off this early based on your generally sense that the district, as a whole, doesn't offer certain things.  Look at the specific elementary schools that your child would have the choice of attending, talk to other parents who send their kids there (this was key for us), and visit the school.  A lot of important information about schools never makes it their web pages, including achievement and arts offerings.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  If more parents actually visited, in session, the schools that their children might attend if they stayed in the "bad" district and talked to the teachers and administrators, I think there would be fewer folks moving to better districts as the default option.  One of the schools in our district offer a dual language immersion program starting in K that the general population is unaware of due to its low profile.  It is highly regarded by the parents, including the well-educated and professional families, that send their children to it.  I think the school gets written off because it is a 3/10 on great schools.

justajane

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2015, 08:54:54 AM »
Based on those numbers you outline, I do think moving is a reasonable goal in the next three years.

School districts in general probably need to be looked at up close rather than on paper. I was talking to someone about it recently, and she mentioned how she overheard someone criticizing a highly regarded district in our area because it has a drug problem. Just because something is stellar on paper doesn't mean there aren't underlying problems that might need to be considered as well. Another highly rated school -- probably one of the best in the state -- had a scandal because apparently a certain group of boys in each grade rated all the girls by attractiveness on a 1 to 10 scale, printed these opinions and passed them around for all to see. The scandal was that the administration had known about it for decades and not stopped it. Of course every school has their problems (bullying, etc), but these things surprised me in light of all the praise directed at these schools.

One thing I like about our more modest school district is that I sense less pressure to wear the right clothes or drive the right cars. We have a school-run home for homeless boys in our district and various active programs to help those who are disadvantaged right in our midst. The lessons that kids learn at school aren't all just academic, and I'm glad to be in a district that fosters both racial and economic diversity.

But our district is known in the metro area for not being a good school district, in large part because of rankings and longstanding perceptions.

asiljoy

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #27 on: October 07, 2015, 08:57:47 AM »
Visit the school before you make any decision.  I teach high school, and we essentially have two schools inside the same building:  A portion of our students are very involved in advanced classes, are using technology, have opportunities for clubs and leadership opportunities ... and another portion just sits through the day, bored to tears, retaining little.  Our test scores don't really portray the reality of what goes on inside our walls. 

So, visit. 
I was just about to mention this path.  It's the one my wife chose.  Turns out that, where we were living at the time; the combined costs of daycare, a second commuter car, extra gas & commuting expenses, lunches out & taxes ate up almost everything that my wife earned.  This is at Proctor & Gamble in a job in her degree field, so I'm not talking about a job a Wal-mart, either.  \
I'm always surprised when people say the math ends up this way.  When we had our first child, so many magazines touted this option, pointing out that "an evening with the calculator may show you can actually save money by staying home!" ... yet I was solidly in the black, even after daycare and the other expenses of a child.
I think it depends on where you are. We're in an otherwise low cost of living area, but childcare costs for whatever reason are right up with there with New York. If we could find care anyways. We never managed to make it off a waitlist, so my husband stays home.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2015, 10:03:22 AM »
When reviewing finances, I think you need to look long term and not just short term.  It might be a wash for the next year or two for you or your wife to stay in the workforce.  But if either of you leave the workforce and don't return you lose a lot of money over time.  If she has a career it might be one that is hard to break back into.  If she is gov't, you would likely be giving up her future pension.  She may also like the idea of having her own income as a safety net.  Family finances should be looked at on the whole as well as overtime.

Also, even the worst schools have good programs for the kids that are really interested in learning.  Maybe not as much in the lower grades but come high school, kids are almost always divided into AP/Honors, Level 1, Level 2, etc.  A "bad" school might have more kids in the lower levels but it doesn't mean there aren't good classes for the kids in the higher levels.

There is also a lot to be said for growing up in a diverse environment rather than a cookie cutter middle class one.

Lastly, bad schools are never going to become good schools if everyone keeps fleeing.  I know you don't want to change the world at the detriment to your kid but I would think twice about if it is really necessary before doing it.

MoonShadow

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2015, 12:01:38 PM »
We don't pay out of pocket for the insurance, so we are still better off keeping her job. plus her pension will be fully vested in about 11 yrs.


11 years!  OMG!  Is she military?  Sounds to me like your FIRE date is 11 years no matter what you do.

As for switching to an HSA, it's not really giving up insurance, but if you have an excellent health plan it might not be an available option anyway.

Kaplin261

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #30 on: October 07, 2015, 12:05:32 PM »
Or is it physically unsafe as in knife fights in kindergarden?

Kids at that age and who are in disadvantaged homes can still act violent and teach your child negative behaviors. The teachers may not be messing up teaching coloring classes but is that teacher a good role model, children are learning a lot more from there teacher then just academics.

show me the money

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2015, 12:19:06 PM »
We don't pay out of pocket for the insurance, so we are still better off keeping her job. plus her pension will be fully vested in about 11 yrs.


11 years!  OMG!  Is she military?  Sounds to me like your FIRE date is 11 years no matter what you do.

As for switching to an HSA, it's not really giving up insurance, but if you have an excellent health plan it might not be an available option anyway.

no she is young and has been with the county for almost 10 years already. so about another 11 yrs to be fully vested

Cassie

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2015, 12:21:15 PM »
When we were young we bought a home that was in a good school district knowing that was important. Then as our oldest was about to start school the boundaries were changed & we ended up in a bad district. We decided to send him for 1 year. By the end of the year both his teacher & the school psychologist told us to get him out of there or he would be ruined.  WE couldn't sell because by then our house was under water. We ended up sending him to a neighborhood Catholic school & we aren't Catholic.  It was expensive for us but we made it work. We knew how to be frugal.

charis

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2015, 12:34:59 PM »
Or is it physically unsafe as in knife fights in kindergarden?

Kids at that age and who are in disadvantaged homes can still act violent and teach your child negative behaviors. The teachers may not be messing up teaching coloring classes but is that teacher a good role model, children are learning a lot more from there teacher then just academics.

Clearly.  But you shouldn't assume these things because the school is located in a "bad" district.  Kids that age from middle class homes can act violent and/or teach your child negative behaviors.   I seen children from both environments and by and large, the wealthier children exhibit worse behavior.  I'd love to see the stats on the violent tendencies of kindergarteners from disadvantaged homes versus affluent homes.  I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that they are about the same.

merula

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2015, 03:25:47 PM »
If more parents actually visited, in session, the schools that their children might attend if they stayed in the "bad" district and talked to the teachers and administrators, I think there would be fewer folks moving to better districts as the default option.

I'd like to add that this is also true in reverse. I went to junior high and high school in a district that was consistently top 5 in the state for test scores. (We didn't have these fancy X/10 scores, though.)

It was a terrible school. 50% (at least) of the teachers were completely checked out. I had a teacher for 3 years (only one for the language I took) who had a board with a daily countdown to tenure, and then once she got it, a daily countdown to retirement. My AP History teacher taught to the test as it was written 20 years prior and never actually read our papers. My algebra teacher was hired right out of college and only because he was close with the principal when he went to school there. Didn't really understand math, but that didn't matter because he was a football coach. Got caught having inappropriate relations with a student, which led to a promotion to Athletic Director. He only got fired when he started writing blank checks to his friends and family. (Because fraud is worse than statutory rape?) Another math teacher (the baseball coach this time), spent class surfing the internet while we did endless worksheets.

How did we have good test scores and high college acceptance? It was a wealthy area and virtually the entire student body had college-educated parents.

The school across town, with a poorer student body and worse test scores? They had an amazing IB program, a phenomenal JROTC program and teachers who were seriously committed to helping lift up these kids.

cchrissyy

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2015, 09:35:46 PM »
music program, AP courses, and sports are all really great things to consider down the line. 

I'd re-visit the idea of moving in oh, 4th grade. If you are still living/working around here in 2022, ok cool, you guys will probably want to go figure out where the programs are really like, visit schools, talk to parents, read reviews, etc. Don't make decisions this year that depend on the state of the schools 8-16 years from now.

socalteacher

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #36 on: October 07, 2015, 10:34:19 PM »
I am a teacher so I am a little biased. I also teach at the 10/10 type of school and the majority of the kids in my class live in million dollar homes.  There is a difference between the school I teach and the one in my neighborhood where I live (3 miles away) which is a 9/10 school. My wife and I purposely teach at this school so that our kids can go there. The stuff they do and are exposed to is incredible. The atmosphere of the school and the overall attitude/ expectations pass on to the kids. The value of learning is definitely felt and expressed. We could live a few exits down the freeway in a cheaper and bigger house, but we believe this gives our kids the best opportunity. That is all we want for them, the opportunity to value learning and to be pushed to work hard.

I have had the opportunity to work in the lower performing schools and to be honest I would do everything in my power to keep my kids out of there. I simply don't want them exposed to the stuff I had to deal with. It is not an issue of money. These schools often have more money than high performing schools.  The issue comes from the value toward education that the kids bring from home and the support they have. It is so easy to get lost in all the problems that plague these schools. One teacher only has so much energy and time to devote to a class of thirty kids. The more issues there are the less time for true learning to take place. I was at two low income schools and of all the teachers there I can only remember two who didn't care and were an embarrassment to the profession. The others were dedicated and doing their absolute best to educate the kids in their classrooms. These are not your typical kids, they come to school with a whole bag of issues that don't get tucked away when they walk through that door. I wish more people looked at the parent responsibility in education more vs pointing fingers at the teachers. I am just saying there is way more to the problem here.

If you have ever been in a work environment, church group, or club of some sort where the atmosphere was positive, encouraging, challanging and engaging you understand the impact that can have on you and your life. That is pretty much how I see school and where I want my kids to be. That atmosphere supports what I am pushing at home.




Kaplin261

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2015, 04:56:56 AM »
I am a teacher so I am a little biased. I also teach at the 10/10 type of school and the majority of the kids in my class live in million dollar homes.  There is a difference between the school I teach and the one in my neighborhood where I live (3 miles away) which is a 9/10 school. My wife and I purposely teach at this school so that our kids can go there. The stuff they do and are exposed to is incredible. The atmosphere of the school and the overall attitude/ expectations pass on to the kids. The value of learning is definitely felt and expressed. We could live a few exits down the freeway in a cheaper and bigger house, but we believe this gives our kids the best opportunity. That is all we want for them, the opportunity to value learning and to be pushed to work hard.

I have had the opportunity to work in the lower performing schools and to be honest I would do everything in my power to keep my kids out of there. I simply don't want them exposed to the stuff I had to deal with. It is not an issue of money. These schools often have more money than high performing schools.  The issue comes from the value toward education that the kids bring from home and the support they have. It is so easy to get lost in all the problems that plague these schools. One teacher only has so much energy and time to devote to a class of thirty kids. The more issues there are the less time for true learning to take place. I was at two low income schools and of all the teachers there I can only remember two who didn't care and were an embarrassment to the profession. The others were dedicated and doing their absolute best to educate the kids in their classrooms. These are not your typical kids, they come to school with a whole bag of issues that don't get tucked away when they walk through that door. I wish more people looked at the parent responsibility in education more vs pointing fingers at the teachers. I am just saying there is way more to the problem here.

If you have ever been in a work environment, church group, or club of some sort where the atmosphere was positive, encouraging, challanging and engaging you understand the impact that can have on you and your life. That is pretty much how I see school and where I want my kids to be. That atmosphere supports what I am pushing at home.

My inlaws are both teachers who are retired now. Towards the end of their careers the schools started getting worse, not because of the teachers but because of the housing in their district. The homes became to age and got cheaper and cheaper until it was no longer a middle class area.

When I ask my inlaws what some of the problems were they tell me it's the parents. The parents don't make/help them do their homework and then when their child starts doing bad the parent is the classroom yelling. The parents don't show up to parent teacher events or PTA meetings. Most of the kids come from a single parent homes. Yeah it is easy for a teacher to get burnt out in this environment, when the parents are yelling at you giving you no respect, the students are plagued with problems and high standards that all students are the same and have to pass a standard test.

To me sending my child to a school that is below average is a gamble. Sure I can retire 2 years early living in a shitty school area but do I really want to take that risk, a risk that could change the rest of my child's life? I will gladly use some mental bandwidth to figure out a solution that ensures my child gets the best education possible.

charis

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #38 on: October 08, 2015, 05:12:49 AM »
I have no problem with parents visiting a school and deciding that it is not the right environment for their children.  I hope that it is happening.  What I have a problem with is the many, many parents I see who discount a less affluent, "bad" district without ever having stepped inside any of the schools that their kid would attend.  Or moving away because of their perception of the district.  Out school is a 5/10 and has an amazing environment of positivity and learning.  The teachers are fully invested.  It isn't about money but the oft-quoted stat about how poor districts have more funds per student is very misleading. Large districts with students living in poverty need MANY more services per student and often don't have nearly the money that they need.  I would much rather my child not go to school with millionaires than experience the world of economic differences for what it is.  There is a lot to be said about education that is not all in the academics.  Yes, don't sacrifice your child's education, I would never do that, but doesn't mean they have to have the best of everything.

justajane

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #39 on: October 08, 2015, 06:27:18 AM »
I have no problem with parents visiting a school and deciding that it is not the right environment for their children.  I hope that it is happening.  What I have a problem with is the many, many parents I see who discount a less affluent, "bad" district without ever having stepped inside any of the schools that their kid would attend.  Or moving away because of their perception of the district.  Out school is a 5/10 and has an amazing environment of positivity and learning.  The teachers are fully invested.  It isn't about money but the oft-quoted stat about how poor districts have more funds per student is very misleading. Large districts with students living in poverty need MANY more services per student and often don't have nearly the money that they need.  I would much rather my child not go to school with millionaires than experience the world of economic differences for what it is.  There is a lot to be said about education that is not all in the academics.  Yes, don't sacrifice your child's education, I would never do that, but doesn't mean they have to have the best of everything.

I feel like you do, jezebel.

And as someone who assistant taught at a top tiered university that only the most elite students go to, I did not see this inherent love of learning of which socalteacher speaks. Sure, there were some bright lights in the classroom who valued knowledge for knowledge's sake, but by and large, my students saw university as another step on the journey to being successful and making lots of money. Their eyes would light up when I mentioned the test and what was going to be on it. The change in the energy of the room at the mention of the test was palpable. Their eyes would glaze back over when I started talking about the nuances of the book they were supposed to have read that week, which, I might add, at least half had usually not read. I find it hard to reconcile my own experiences with very wealthy young adults outlined by socalteacher. Does so much change in 2-3 years?

show me the money

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #40 on: October 08, 2015, 08:03:05 AM »
I have no problem with parents visiting a school and deciding that it is not the right environment for their children.  I hope that it is happening.  What I have a problem with is the many, many parents I see who discount a less affluent, "bad" district without ever having stepped inside any of the schools that their kid would attend.  Or moving away because of their perception of the district.  Out school is a 5/10 and has an amazing environment of positivity and learning.  The teachers are fully invested.  It isn't about money but the oft-quoted stat about how poor districts have more funds per student is very misleading. Large districts with students living in poverty need MANY more services per student and often don't have nearly the money that they need.  I would much rather my child not go to school with millionaires than experience the world of economic differences for what it is.  There is a lot to be said about education that is not all in the academics.  Yes, don't sacrifice your child's education, I would never do that, but doesn't mean they have to have the best of everything.

we aren't looking for the best of the best school here, i can't afford anything like that, we are just looking for better. my wife went to the school district that we are currently in until her parents moved her into the district i went to, she went from having no choices to many choices, she was so happy at the classes she could take in the arts as electives that her old district just didn't have. the biggest thing they have in our district is football, and all the money goes to that, no thanks.

 The area is not really any good either, my wife would say all the time that the only thing for kids to do in this town is to get into trouble, its not like that where i grew up, which is where she eventually moved to, and where we are looking, much better schools, more land, homes that are taken care of, just a different set of values and people, and yeah i want to be around that. the town we are in is a walking town, which would be awesome if there was anything to walk to such as a grocery store, but there isn't there is only a convenience store, where we are looking is only slightly more expensive for the houses, but lower taxes, and the grocery store is easily walking distance, as are the elementary and jr high school.

We bought in this district thinking that the housing is cheap, we can easily afford it on one salary if that happened, and really thought we would not have children, we did, then lost a second child, and are now trying for another, i want them in a better district, with more options, and better college readiness, even if they choose not to go to college or a trade school.

charis

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #41 on: October 08, 2015, 08:19:08 AM »
I wasn't speaking directly to your situation, OP, it sounds like you have made your decision for many other reasons than just school choice, like you just don't want to live there. 

show me the money

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2015, 09:02:27 AM »
I wasn't speaking directly to your situation, OP, it sounds like you have made your decision for many other reasons than just school choice, like you just don't want to live there.

this is very true Jezebel, it is one of the mistakes i have made in life. we do not want to live there, but are working on fixing it, my fear is of dumping more money into the mortgage only to have the prices drop even further

mm1970

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2015, 12:27:25 PM »
I have no problem with parents visiting a school and deciding that it is not the right environment for their children.  I hope that it is happening.  What I have a problem with is the many, many parents I see who discount a less affluent, "bad" district without ever having stepped inside any of the schools that their kid would attend.  Or moving away because of their perception of the district.  Out school is a 5/10 and has an amazing environment of positivity and learning.  The teachers are fully invested.  It isn't about money but the oft-quoted stat about how poor districts have more funds per student is very misleading. Large districts with students living in poverty need MANY more services per student and often don't have nearly the money that they need.  I would much rather my child not go to school with millionaires than experience the world of economic differences for what it is.  There is a lot to be said about education that is not all in the academics.  Yes, don't sacrifice your child's education, I would never do that, but doesn't mean they have to have the best of everything.
I agree - I see parents at our school transfer to the 10/10 school just because...

You know, there are lots of kids in million dollar homes.

It's only early October, and the PTO has already raised over $100,000 toward their $125,000 goal.

I talked to one or two parents who were at our school and transferred.  Both cases their older daughter got into the other school, but the younger one didn't. So they had 2 kids at 2 schools for a couple of years, until there was space for the younger.  I quote "Well, it's nice that I don't have to volunteer as much because there's a lot more money there.  But I miss our old school because the new one is definitely more snobby, more demanding of money - and I quote "write us a check for $300 per kid", and a lot more keeping-up-with-the-joneses".

mm1970

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #44 on: October 08, 2015, 12:28:45 PM »
to give you all some more info, the district i am in total is 4/10 the k-6 is a 3/10 and 9-12 is a 5/10

where we are looking to move to is an 8/10

i know i am worrying a lot about this cause first child and all so that makes me extra crazy.

What do these numbers actually mean, though? Have you taken a tour of the school or talked to the district? For instance, my school district isn't ranked that highly, at least not compared to neighboring districts, but that's because we have disadvantaged kids. 50% of the school is on reduced price lunch. I actually think this is an asset for the school, rankings be damned. Exciting things are happening in our district, and I'm proud of it. The district you are in could be total crap, but I wouldn't decide that based solely on arbitrary numbers.

This is the case of our school too.  I mean, our test scores are low because of the % of the students who are both on free lunch (poor) AND English learners.  It's a big challenge, I'm not going to lie.
But the English origin kids do as well as those at the other schools.

mm1970

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #45 on: October 08, 2015, 12:32:24 PM »
Quote
they don't have many programs if any at the district i am in, such as no AP classes, entire class size is usually only around 100 kids each year, so they all more or less take the same class. my wife started there and eventually moved out to the district we want to be in where there are many more options for languages, mathmatics, drama, choir and so on, the district we are in do not offer a lot of those things. as far as safety, i am sure it is fine. my wife works in the same town, and the town i work in is worse for school, so no switching schools based off that.

I'm not sure I'd worry about that for elementary.

You know - our school has about 70 per grade.
I grew up in a school with 100 per grade (very rural area).
Our elementary doesn't have a GATE class anymore.  There's a district wide GATE at the 10/10 school (with a lottery), but our school simply separates the GATE kids and the smart-but-not-GATE kids a few times a week for advanced studies in math and English.

Much of what you mention are things that people do on the side.  The elementary schools have a separate math club for 4-5-6.  There are summer camps and weekend programs for music, drama, etc.  If you are concerned about high school, then think about moving for high school. But honestly, I'd visit the elementary school and talk to some parents (maybe at an open house?) before judging.

mm1970

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #46 on: October 08, 2015, 12:37:12 PM »
I am a teacher so I am a little biased. I also teach at the 10/10 type of school and the majority of the kids in my class live in million dollar homes.  There is a difference between the school I teach and the one in my neighborhood where I live (3 miles away) which is a 9/10 school. My wife and I purposely teach at this school so that our kids can go there. The stuff they do and are exposed to is incredible. The atmosphere of the school and the overall attitude/ expectations pass on to the kids. The value of learning is definitely felt and expressed. We could live a few exits down the freeway in a cheaper and bigger house, but we believe this gives our kids the best opportunity. That is all we want for them, the opportunity to value learning and to be pushed to work hard.

I have had the opportunity to work in the lower performing schools and to be honest I would do everything in my power to keep my kids out of there. I simply don't want them exposed to the stuff I had to deal with. It is not an issue of money. These schools often have more money than high performing schools.  The issue comes from the value toward education that the kids bring from home and the support they have. It is so easy to get lost in all the problems that plague these schools. One teacher only has so much energy and time to devote to a class of thirty kids. The more issues there are the less time for true learning to take place. I was at two low income schools and of all the teachers there I can only remember two who didn't care and were an embarrassment to the profession. The others were dedicated and doing their absolute best to educate the kids in their classrooms. These are not your typical kids, they come to school with a whole bag of issues that don't get tucked away when they walk through that door. I wish more people looked at the parent responsibility in education more vs pointing fingers at the teachers. I am just saying there is way more to the problem here.

If you have ever been in a work environment, church group, or club of some sort where the atmosphere was positive, encouraging, challanging and engaging you understand the impact that can have on you and your life. That is pretty much how I see school and where I want my kids to be. That atmosphere supports what I am pushing at home.
YMMV, but I live in So Cal.

There is a difference, I think, between my school and the lower performing schools that score a 1 or a 2.  Those schools are 90-98% poor and English learners.  There is no PTA.  They are really just barely hanging on. 

Our middling school is NOT like the 10/10 school that raises $250k per year ($150k of that from straight up donations).  Our kids DON'T get a lot of fancy things because we raise about $60k per year.  But it's not like the other schools.

We specifically transferred out of the 1/10 school in our hood because I honestly didn't want my kid to be one of 3 English speakers in his entire grade (not class, grade).  But in his current school, there's a core group of high performing kids, and plenty of opportunity. The teachers have mostly been there for years - 20 years ago, it was 80% English origin vs. much less now.  I think that's part of the reason why they still "teach to the English speakers" and have difficulty with the English learners.

frugaldrummer

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #47 on: October 08, 2015, 06:32:25 PM »
Before my kids were even school age, my ex and I chose a house in a fancier neighborhood with the idea that it had the best public school. Wealthy parents, active PTA, high scores, etc.

In retrospect (my kids are grown now) I was naive about a LOT of things.  Some teachers were great, some were burnouts who had enough seniority to transfer to the school with the "easy" students.  One of my kids suffered from being over-exposed to super-wealthy friends (his expectations of easy money have adversely affected his work ethic and world view). Drug use was rampant in the high school (rich kids have plenty of money to buy drugs and often have parents that are too busy to supervise properly, or too self-involved to care).  Two of my three kids ended up leaving the high school and finishing their high school in self-study programs because of the toxic social environment.

If I had it to do over again, I would choose a school that was a little more middle class, that had a better racial/ethnic mix (ours was almost all white except for a few Hispanic kids that traveled a long distance on the bus, so it was always difficult for my kids to spend time with them after school). 

show me the money

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #48 on: October 09, 2015, 07:24:04 AM »
Before my kids were even school age, my ex and I chose a house in a fancier neighborhood with the idea that it had the best public school. Wealthy parents, active PTA, high scores, etc.

In retrospect (my kids are grown now) I was naive about a LOT of things.  Some teachers were great, some were burnouts who had enough seniority to transfer to the school with the "easy" students.  One of my kids suffered from being over-exposed to super-wealthy friends (his expectations of easy money have adversely affected his work ethic and world view). Drug use was rampant in the high school (rich kids have plenty of money to buy drugs and often have parents that are too busy to supervise properly, or too self-involved to care).  Two of my three kids ended up leaving the high school and finishing their high school in self-study programs because of the toxic social environment.

If I had it to do over again, I would choose a school that was a little more middle class, that had a better racial/ethnic mix (ours was almost all white except for a few Hispanic kids that traveled a long distance on the bus, so it was always difficult for my kids to spend time with them after school).

Thanks Frugaldrummer,

 To be clear, the district we are trying to go to, and there are two of them we like, are very middle class, i would have to go a little farther to get to the 9/10 school which is much wealthier or at least the houses are much bigger and the cars are more expensive in that area ;)

but the two districts we are interested in are middle class, i went to the one my whole life and never felt anything more that "middle class" as is the district i am in now, its just on the lower end of it, and its not just the school district, the taxes are higher and the people are (imo) worse where i am at, they throw trash on the street to the point we have a street sweeper,(only place in the lower end of the county that has one, just low class people that do not take care of anything, dog and cat crap on people lawns, they are just... i just need to get out of there. i want better for my son, and the point of the OP was to figure out how to do that quickest/best financially.

FLBiker

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Re: stuck in a bad school district
« Reply #49 on: October 09, 2015, 07:50:47 AM »
Before my kids were even school age, my ex and I chose a house in a fancier neighborhood with the idea that it had the best public school. Wealthy parents, active PTA, high scores, etc.

In retrospect (my kids are grown now) I was naive about a LOT of things.  Some teachers were great, some were burnouts who had enough seniority to transfer to the school with the "easy" students.  One of my kids suffered from being over-exposed to super-wealthy friends (his expectations of easy money have adversely affected his work ethic and world view). Drug use was rampant in the high school (rich kids have plenty of money to buy drugs and often have parents that are too busy to supervise properly, or too self-involved to care).  Two of my three kids ended up leaving the high school and finishing their high school in self-study programs because of the toxic social environment.

If I had it to do over again, I would choose a school that was a little more middle class, that had a better racial/ethnic mix (ours was almost all white except for a few Hispanic kids that traveled a long distance on the bus, so it was always difficult for my kids to spend time with them after school).

This was very similar to my experience.  I went to middle / high school at "great" schools (10/10, 9/10 respectively) in a wealthy district.  I did "great" - Honor Roll, National Merit Scholar, etc., but I hated it.  The cliquey materialism drove me nuts, and I got into alcohol and drugs.  I was angry and depressed much of the time (albeit some of that was probably just generic teenage angst).  I guess we had more interesting electives than some schools (I took a class where we etched circuit boards in 1992) but most of my teachers weren't any great shakes.  I had two that were great, a few that were terrible, and the rest were fine.  And I say that as a teacher, whose wife, brother, sister-in-law and mom are all also teachers.

For my daughter, I want something more middle class, and more diverse.  The pressure to consume (brand name clothes, cars, etc.) was ridiculous at that school, and that was in the early 90's.  I can only imagine what it's like now, w/ all the pocket technology in the mix.