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Old 04-02-2008, 06:52 PM
 
84 posts, read 201,123 times
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Right now our main goal is to narrow in on an area or two (or three) where we can focus our research. Does anyone have any recommendations on neighborhoods/towns/et that meet the following criteria: First and foremost is a really good school district, next on the list would be someplace where we have room to roam ( in other words not a neighborhood where the lot sizes are postage stamp size - and we like trees!). We have two distinct types of homes we love – one would be of the historic variety, the other are homes incorporating green living features (I know – these are on opposite ends of the spectrum). We love the feel of a small town and do not mind having to drive into Austin proper if needed (we work from our home). We are looking for someplace where you can walk on the streets and feel safe, ride a bike, go to the malt shop – you get the idea.

Any ideas on where to start the search?
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:25 PM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
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I'll throw out Taylor Texas, north of Austin and east of Round Rock.

Taylor TX - Official Website
Taylor Daily Press: Serving Eastern Williamson County, TX
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:09 PM
 
Location: Hutto, Tx
8,642 posts, read 16,483,917 times
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Taylor, Georgetown, Leander, and I'll even throw in Hutto (a person down the road from me is remodeling "green". Even have a cool water cistern), maybe Buda/Dripping Springs.
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
16,525 posts, read 23,123,648 times
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Pretty much what love roses said, but I might change the order - but that's subjective and personal taste. Don't know much about the Taylor school district.

By the way, older homes do not preclude green living features (says the EcoBroker® who lives in a 1930's house). A lot of the features of older homes lend themselves to living with, not against, the climate, and a lot of things that are considered "green" now were considered "life" long ago (rainwater harvesting, for example, goes back centuries). And there are people who are retrofitting older houses to be more "green", as well. So you can have your cake and eat it, too!
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:30 AM
 
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 9,980,675 times
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So, while I don't disagree with any of the advice given, necessarily - if this is your MAIN issue

Quote:
First and foremost is a really good school district
I would have to take out Taylor, right now. I think the district will get there, I really do... and I love the little town of it, and we have even considered moving there.... but the thing that holds us back is the district, right now. It's only rated acceptable, and since the growth hasn't yet moved out that way, I think it will be awhile before there is money poured into the schools, and then... it will still have to go through the growing pains that all little-growing bigger towns experience.

So, because of that, it would personally be off my list... but I agree about Georgetown and Leander.

Going South West, I would then consider Dripping Springs ... but where will work be? I think that should be right up there on "priorities" after school district.
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Old 04-03-2008, 11:20 AM
 
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Thanks everyone - this will give me a good place to start. We work out of our home - occasionally I will have to go into Austin, but would be commuting on off hours.

We have explored retro fitting an older historic home where we currently live to make it more sustainable and we love this idea. We also like like the idea of building from scratch....so we are pretty wide open to all possibilites. What we really desire is character in a home and neighborhood - and character can be found in many sizes, shapes, and forms!
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Old 04-03-2008, 12:33 PM
 
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Although I like Dripping a lot, Georgetown is much cuter and definitely has that old-time feel. Plus it has regular big-box stuff close by. Dripping doesn't even have a big grocery store.
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Old 04-03-2008, 11:24 PM
 
Location: Austin 78722
72 posts, read 128,187 times
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The small towns to the east in Bastrop County--Bastrop, Smithville, and Elgin--have older historic homes, shady streets, quaint downtowns, fairly scenic surroundings (woods, wildflowers, rolling prairie, farms, rivers). They are within 30-60 minutes from downtown Austin so the growth pressures are mounting, but they seem to have maintained some charm so far.

Bastrop is the biggest (7,000 to 10,000 people) with a Home Depot and other large strip center development on Hwy 71, the main road to Austin. Smithville (maybe 4,000) was the setting for the movie "Hope Floats" which featured some of the town's historic homes. It's the furthest away from Austin. Elgin (maybe 8,000 now?) I don't know much about except it's the home to some killer sausage makers, but you should check them all out (Smithville, Texas, Bastrop County - Heart of the Megalopolis (http://www.smithvilletexas.net/ - broken link), Welcome to Bastrop, Texas - the Most Historic Small Town in Texas!, City of Elgin).

I don't know too much about the schools but overall the districts are at least "academically acceptable" according to the state, as are Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Leander, etc. The only "accademically recognized" district in the Austin area is Eanes, which covers the Westlake area. Lake Travis, Lago Vista, and Dripping Springs ISDs have all been recognized in either 2005 or 2006 but not for 2007.

According to the Tx Education Agency website, it looks like Elgin may have a few problems with schools getting "unacceptable ratings (one in 2006 and one in 2007), but Bastrop and Smithville ISDs look to be in good shape, with a few "recognized" elementary schools in recent years in Bastrop and no "unacceptable" schools in either district (2005-2007). Within each school district there may be individual campuses that are better or worse than the overall district rating.

These ratings by TEA are the source of much consternation and debate by many people; I don't think they should be taken as the ultimate and only authority on what schools and school districts are the "best" but unfortunately that's the only data that I know how to get on the web.

Last edited by geoquiz3000; 04-03-2008 at 11:33 PM..
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:07 AM
 
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If you have the money, Tarrytown in West-Central Austin is like that. I grew up there and it really is like a small town of its own-- walking to the local pharmacy for gum, reading time at the library, seeing 10 people you know at the grocery store. And their elementary school- Casis- is excellent.
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Old 04-09-2008, 12:39 PM
 
187 posts, read 604,877 times
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Default school is what you make it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenbar View Post

I would have to take out Taylor, right now. I think the district will get there, I really do... and I love the little town of it, and we have even considered moving there.... but the thing that holds us back is the district, right now. It's only rated acceptable, and since the growth hasn't yet moved out that way, I think it will be awhile before there is money poured into the schools, and then... it will still have to go through the growing pains that all little-growing bigger towns experience.
I should preface this comment by saying that I am a NEW resident of Taylor, and that I do not have children at all, let alone school-age children. I am a former teacher at a private elementary school in another state.

It's my understanding that the Taylor High School just won a local (county? state?) ACADEMIC competition title, and not an ATHLETIC competition title. Further, I understand that this title was the school's third or fourth consecutive title. I cannot recall what the competition was (math, history, science, English) but I read about it in a very short piece in the Austin American-Statesman within the past 3 or 4 months, before I moved here.

I apologize for not having more specific information, but I did not pay close attention to this little article at the time. You might find it online, or in the Taylor newspaper online.

I chime in here only because Jenbar's comments remind me that many folks believe that the government ratings for schools hold a lot of meaning, when they don't reveal much more than the ability of students to take tests, or for monies to be spent. Social class issues are a big part of that equation.

So I, perhaps judgmentally, interpret Jenbar's comments to mean that there aren't enough residents there of a certain tax-base yet to infuse the system with the dollars necessary in order for their students to compliantly fill in little boxes with number 2 pencils as directed by coercive instructors.

Teachers can only do so much for students within the limitations of curricula set by school boards and government bodies. Parents must also take responsibility for their children's learning, and the students themselves are the most responsible of all. The students should do their own homework, not their parents. Some students like to learn, and some don't, and some would like to learn if the pedagogical methods were different. Not all students fit into the same box.

So I cannot speak to how good Taylor's schools are or are not, based upon my personal experience, but I can say that I don't think the charts and graphs bearing the word "acceptable" reveal anything useful.

If Jenbar and other parents won't move to a place that interests them, a place in which they might enjoy living, because the schools are only "acceptable" according to some bizarre accounting system, she and this cohort might consider moving into that town and making the schools "more than acceptable." This is how change happens. You make it happen. You become involved in the school district and attend meetings and urge for change.

Don't think about it as, "What can I get out of (the school district in) Taylor?" when you might consider the question, "What can I bring to the community of Taylor?" It's a great little town. One of my neighbors the other day called it "an undiscovered gem," and I had to agree.

As for the town of Taylor itself, there are a lot of older people living here in historic homes, lovely homes that are very affordable as compared to the same type of housing stock available in Austin. The park is lovely and is undergoing an improvement program, new houses are being built by developers outside the historic core, and while the new HEB grocery store is not open 24 hours, it is open 20 hours--bad news for those who shop only between 1 and 5 am. There is a great new public library facility that just celebrated its first anniversary. With the population of Taylor aging, more young families and young single people should come to town.

People in Taylor, in the few months I've lived there, are extremely friendly. Strangers have stopped me in the streets to chat, and adults wave from their cars and kids from their bicycles.

There are a lot of "small town" people there, business owners and people in the service and trade industries. But there are also quite a few state government employees and UT faculty and staff living there, too.

I enjoy Taylor very much and would encourage people to consider it. Schools are great schools when teachers and parents work together to make the pupils interested in the world and in their own lives, and a large part of that is up to the individual student, too, no matter where the school or how it is rated.
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