One of the single most important things to consider when moving to a new home with kids is the school district. For many parents this is a top priority. And, rightfully so. Finding a school district where your kids will thrive and grow is essential. When you are seeking a school district you need to find the right fit both for you and your kids.
As a parent you also should know that when it comes to school districts there’s not a one size fits all. There are, after all, pluses and minuses, so get your checklist ready. Before you start, the first thing you should do is to write down what is important to you when seeking a new district. With a little research you can uncover a lot about a school district, the quality of its educational system, and the community in which it resides. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little patience and some after-hours homework you can find both the perfect home and the right school district. Here’s seven tips to use to help you evaluate whether a school district is right for your family.
- Review the school district’s Report Card. There’s plenty of online information these days that provides statistical data on how students are performing in a particular school and by grade level. In Texas the Texas Education Agency publishes an annual school report card. According to the TEA website, the report card combines three factors to determine campus performance: accountability ratings, data from the Texas Academic Performance Reports, and financial information. However, you can also view additional data about a particular school by going to greatschools.org. On this website you can search by school or by district. One word of caution—test scores aren’t the tell all. Be objective and look beyond test scores and demographic data. There are other factors that make a district great such as their approach to technology, college readiness programs, their teachers and staff, community services, student diversity, athletics, fine arts and more.
- Make sure the district meets your child’s individual needs. Know your child’s abilities, needs, interests, personality, and learning style. Some kids do great in a large environment while others do not. Do you have a shy child? How are different learning styles supported in the classroom? Does your child require extra reading support? Does your child want to play sports, or play in the band? Know these things before you begin your search.
- Analyze the district’s budget. What you’ll want to look for here is how much money the district spends on each child’s education. In addition, if you have a specific need, such as a child with disabilities, you will also want to know how much money is allocated for those specific programs. Or, does your child love art or want to play an instrument. Is there money in the budget for new band equipment or fine arts programs? And, what about technology? How does the district plan to cover expenses and plan for new computers and expanding technology programs?
- Schedule a tour of one of the schools in your district. Not only is this the wise thing to do, it is encourage by both elementary and middle school principals. The best way to get a vibe of the district and a particular school is to talk to the principal and spend time in the classroom. Be leery of those principals that don’t want to talk to you. Observing teachers in their daily environment speaks volumes. What you’ll want to look for is how teachers interact with their students, how the students interact with teachers, and how the students interact with each other. Your observations should also include student engagement and their understanding of the presented material.
- Talk to other parents within the school district. This might be a little tricky especially if you haven’t moved into the neighborhood. However, if you are considering moving into Travisso, knocking on a potential new neighbor’s door may be the way to go. When it comes to education, getting a first-hand viewpoint from another parent is golden. Travisso’s HOA is also another great source of information. Visit the HOA office in The Palazzo for a quick question and answer session. Or, ask for additional names of those that live in the neighborhood that may be willing to share information.
- Check out the district’s opportunities for extracurricular activities, clubs, and after school programs. After school programs not only give students the opportunity to explore new classes and programs, they also relieve worried working parents. The best thing about these programs is that they are usually held at the school. However, it is not uncommon for some programs to be held off-site if they are held in conjunction with another community entity such as a library or park district. There’s a lot of options here. Most middle and high schools have clubs, organizations, and athletic programs with a variety of interests and social interaction opportunities.
- Review additional online data. Don’t forget there’s a world of information on the Internet. Start by reviewing the district’s website then view the individual sites of those schools you are evaluating. Or, do a google search and see what comes up. Visit Niche.com for rankings, reviews and statistics on K-12 schools.
The Leander Independent School District serves the Travisso community. Click here for LISD’s latest report card information. LISD serves over 38,000 students on 42 campuses and encompasses approximately 200 miles.
If you are looking for the perfect home in a great school district visit Travisso today. Travisso is a master-planned community with breathtaking views, natural scenery, and outstanding amenities. We are located near northwest Austin’s high tech employment center and 30 minutes from Downtown.