It can be hard to juggle all of the different aspects of a neighborhood you should consider when you’re looking for a rental home, whether it’s a townhome or a single family home. Perhaps you care a lot about the pet-friendly aspect of things, or maybe you want a thriving nightlife, or maybe you want a sweeping arts and culture scene. If you have school-age children, one of your top concerns is likely the quality of the school district. You might be wondering how to research the local schools. All of the information available on America’s schools doesn’t always make itself obvious, and of course, you’ll want to be able to pick and choose the resources which make the most sense for you. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the best ones out there.
The School Itself
There is nothing quite like going directly to the source. The school will be able to provide you with plenty of information about how it operates. You can likely request brochures, statistics, and ask any questions you might have. In some cases, you may even be invited into the school to tour it, or to have a meeting with the principal. You might also be invited to an event or meeting in order to get to know some of the community members. Obviously, the school will act in its own best interest, so you might not hear the more negative aspects of life at the school. However, that’s where the other resources on our list can help you out.
Parent-teacher organizations are a great way to get more information about the school which isn’t available through sources such as the school websites. They usually hold regular meetings, and the minutes of those meetings are often available online. There you’ll find discussions between parents and faculty about upcoming events and different problems that they are working on within the school. It’s a good way to get an insider’s view into what might be going on at the school and to understand what the people who are most involved in the community are like. You may even be able to reach out to the association in question to speak to someone who can help you find even more school-specific resources.
The local news of the district which services your rental will likely report on what’s going on at the school. You’ll be able to find coverage of sports, dances, academic achievements, and all kinds of other school-related events. This is an important resource because although the newspaper and the school may be connected in several ways, the school does not necessarily have control over what goes into the paper. If there is a scandal or something similar, the paper will likely report on it. You’ll be able to get a more unfiltered view of the school this way, and you’ll better understand how the school fits into the town’s ecosystem.
Niche will give you an overview of a school district or a school, depending on what you need. You’ll find letter grades on academics, teachers, diversity, college prep, clubs and activities, and health and safety, among several other criteria. You can also see exactly where the school is located and what the boundaries of the district around your rental are. If you make a profile on the site, you can even make your own list of schools. Although Niche may not provide as much in-depth information as some other sources, it’s a great way to get a general overview of the school and how it compares nationally and locally to others in a broad sense.
SchoolDigger is similar in form to Niche, but the information it provides in its overviews is different. Instead of the letter grades that Niche offers, you’ll get quantitative breakdowns of things like the student-teacher ratio, the percentages of different races which make up the student population, and the per-pupil expenditure of the district around your rental. If you’re a person who’s into numbers, this is definitely a resource for you. There are also graphs charting how the school has performed on state and national levels in academics, how its enrollment has risen and fallen, and several other factors.
Local Facebook groups are a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of the local community around your rental. There are often many threads occurring in these community forums about events at the local school. Some may contain heated debates, and others may simply be full of cute pictures. Either way, you’ll understand better how the community perceives the school, and what the hot-button issues are. Hopefully, you’ll see quite a lot of school pride, too! Obviously, anyone can post anything they like in these groups (until a moderator catches them), so be prepared to weed your way through unfounded claims. It is social media, after all. The upside is that you can hear what people think about the school without any filter, and you may even be able to speak to some community members if you have questions.
We hope that these resources will help you find all of the information you need about schools in your area. Best of luck as you hunt for the perfect rental and the perfect school!
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