Would You Move for Better Schools?
August 25, 2012 4:25 PM Subscribe
Moving to a better school zone. Should I do it? Tough decisions concerning moving, staying put, and financial future.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. Own nice home in nice neighborhood which is centrally located. It's a quiet subdivision with big yards and sidewalks. It is one mile from younger child's school. We've lived here for 14 years. Will own house outright in three years time -- we owe about 13k on it. Have two kids, ages 9 and almost 12.
2. Eldest kid started middle school this year (6th grade). We are zoned for "urban" middle school. School has a D grade rating from the state. It has a bad reputation and plenty of people do their best to avoid this school. In my neighborhood, and neighboring neighborhoods, there are many families who fabricate addresses and produce false documents to get enroll their children to better school in the same district. In my neighborhood, there are two kids who go to the "bad" middle school, and one of those kids is my kids. There are two other small subdivisions close to mine. I know a lot of these kids in the neighborhood. Without exaggeration none of these kids go to the "bad" middle school. The high school we are currently zoned for has a bad reputation as well and many people flee to avoid it. The "good" high school in our area is 1000 students overcrowded.
3. This summer, my spouse and I chose to go through the process the "right" and "honest" way and apply for a variance to the better middle school that is 2 miles away from our home. We were denied and appealed. The appeal was denied. We appealed the appeal and were denied again. At that point, the appeal process was exhausted. That was it. No dice. So, we start to panic a bit and put our house on the market.
4. We are working with a realtor. Realtor is neighbor and acquaintance from high school. She is nice. She is competent. She is offering us no discount. We didn't ask or expect one. We will pay 6%. We signed 6-month contract. There is a $500 fee to break contract.
5. We have been house hunting. There is hardly any inventory in the good school zone (same district, just better zone). The houses that are in the "good" school zone are expensive and a lot of them are not as nice as my house. I keep comparing. It pains me to pay so much for a "downgrade."
6. When I explain situation to friends, acquaintances, and coworkers everybody is baffled as to why we did not produce and address. We have close family who lives in good middle school zone and could use their address. They have offered to put my name on utility bill and could help me get on other necessary documents that the school necessitates.
7. Spouse and I (especially me) are starting to get serious cold feet. I do not want to move. I feel like I have made huge mistake. I feel like breaking contract right now and staying in my house and going the dishonest route to get my kid into better school.
8. There are no quality private schools around. The closest one is Christian private. We are not religious. There are Catholic privates, an Episcopalian private, and a Jewish private. They are quite a distance away, expensive, and don't have great reputations. Most of these schools are suffering because of the economy. The have lost students and tuition. We believe in public school and aren't really interested in sending our kids to a private school that is affiliated with a religion. There are no secular privates, charters, or magnets. This is fairly small town Florida. Options are limited.
9. I am aware that there are many factors that can cause a school to earn a D grade and a bad reputation. My child's current, and zoned, middle school heavily emphasizes anti-bullying. It discourages the use of the provided lockers. I guess too many students congregate/store drugs/fight at lockers. I don't know. They have signs everywhere that give you the impression that behavior problems are rampant. There are posters everywhere about respect and bullying and a signs in the hallway that say "keep moving, no talking". The segregate kids by grade, which is fine by me. The word is that the PTA and School Advisory Council are dismal. Parent participation and presence dismal. My kid was pushed three times on first day and slapped a few times in PE. Evidently in PE class some kids were slapping everybody on the back of the neck. My kid didn't seem too phased. It might be normal middle school antics.
I am having a hard time with this. I feel like we are making huge financial mistake by moving. My quality of life wouldn't change much -- we would just have a longer mortgage payment. I would basically be in same town, with slightly higher property taxes and a bigger mortgage. It is still a lot of money. Some friends say get the hell out of that school. Some friends say it's fine. I feel like an idiot going about the variance route when all of my friends and neighbors got an address from a friend or family member and are sending their kid to the school of their choice.
Is moving to another school zone, in the same district, the right thing to do? What factors should I be considering that I haven't stated? Have you done it? What are your experiences? Also, how should I handle breaking my contract with my neighbor/real estate agent who has spent this week showing us houses and dealing with paperwork, listing my house, taking pictures, delivering copies, etc. The contract states there is 500 dollar fee if broker and seller mutually break contracts. I wonder if our agent will get half of that. I hope so. Is there any way they can not agree and keep the house listed for 6 months? They say they will get the 6% commission if I sell it 6 months after the contract has been broken. No problem for me because I'm not going to sell it.