Birmingham High Schools (Hoover, Decatur, Bessemer: middle-class, real estate, rentals)
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
We are about 99% sure we will be moving to Birmingham (from Indiana) next summer. I am going to have a lot of questions, but I'll start with the one most pressing at the moment.
We are interested in the International Baccalaureate program at Shades Valley High School - my daughter is in pre-IB up here. If anyone has any general comments, please feel free. My specific question though, concerns neighborhoods, etc.
I have a general sense of where the school is from the map - I was in Birmingham once, a couple of years ago, but essentially drove from the airport to the office where I was going, and then back to the airport - so my perusing of the map doesn't tell me much.
If my preference for housing were, say houses built before 1960 in non-subdivision type neighborhoods, (in-town, close to town, probably) what are my options for that and still being within a reasonable distance of this school? Do you see what I'm saying?
We're not absolutely tied to IB if other options seem good, though, so any comments on any other secondary schools are welcome, particularly the Catholic high school.
Hmm. Is 200K for something with either 3 bedrooms and a bonus room of some sort or flat-out 4 bedrooms crazy? Housing prices up here in my part of IN are way low, and I'm spoiled. We live in a very large, pretty nice (except for the damage we've done) 2200 square foot home built in 1942 that we bought for, er...105K 7 years ago. Hope to sell it for half again as much.
And, like I said, older homes and neighborhoods as in pre-1960??
OK here goes....first, know that you will not be living in the city of Birmingham itself. You are going to somewhere in suburbia.
Birmingham's metro has many good quality, college-prep level public high schools.
Jefferson County IB at Shades Valley has been rated as one of the top 5 high schools in the United States for the past several years. This is from their website...
[SIZE=1]Newsweek Magazine has once again ranked JCIB in the top five of their rankings of the top High Schools in the United States. This year's ranking of 4th comes on the heels of being ranked 2nd in 2006 and 1st in 2005. [/SIZE]
Of course, your child must 1) apply for admission to JCIB, 2) meet the standards and 3) they must have an opening...
The high school is located in the eastern part of Jefferson County and the area around it is not the best in terms of housing. Irondale.
CATHOLIC SCHOOL- John Carroll Catholic High School is an excellent college-prep quality school located on a beautiful new campus (about ten years old). Your child would get an excellent education there and the cost for Catholic families is $6000 per year. JCCH is located in a commercial shopping district on a busy four lane highway. The city of Homewood is closeby, but finding a house in Homewood for $200k is going to be difficult. Homewood has very very pretty neighborhoods that date from the 1920's and are beautifully kept. But in the last 20 years as owners have updated them, the cost of housing there has increased considerably.
3) or the Hoover High School district. Hoover High School (broken link)....Hoover High also has an IB program.
4) Trussville High School is also a good choice (in Jefferson County). We have a poster on here from California who lives in Trussville and she can tell you a lot about that area... Hewitt-Trussville High School Home Page (http://www.jefcoed.com/schools/hewitthigh/ - broken link)
Remember that if you chose one of these vs. John Carroll Catholic, you would have $500 more per month to put into a house payment...there are three other public schools in the metro that are excellent but finding a home for $200k is going to be impossible.
Unfortunately, your requirement for an older home in that price range is not going to be possible in the suburbs where the good schools are located. As I said, Homewood has homes built in the 1920's with much character and charm but you're not going to find one (unless its a super super fixer upper for 200k)....
Too bad you are not moving to Decatur. Our 2 high schools have a combined IB program and just started its middle school IB program this year. Because the program is so new, they are searching for students.
Some neighborhood options for pre 1960 intown homes in the city of Birmingham:
Norwood (my neighborhood)
Bush Blvd area
The skinny: living intown in Birmingham you will be in a much more economically and racially mixed area than in any of the suburbs. There are significant challenges and opportunituies that come along with that. I have not been to Ft. Wayne, but I imagine a similar pattern exists there as here. Glen Iris and southside, crestline are more consistantly middle-class and have significant pockets of yuppie-dom living in them. You see lots of restored housing there, lots of Saabs, Volvos, BMWs and Prius's in the driveways.
My neigborhood is one with tons of old mansions, some of which are beginning to be well-restored by a small group of professionals, idealists and romantics moving in. One of my neigbors a few blocks over spent $45,000 for the house they are restoring and will have put about $80,000 more into it by the time they occupy in a month or two. They will have an absolutely stunning house at the end of it however. With the aquality it'd be $500,000 in Homewood, easily! I have another neigbor who spent $160,000 for a retoration that was done for them, but the house has every high end amenity you can imagine in it. Despite the reputation, crime is relatively low in Norwood. I personally haven't had any problems in 4 years and none of my neighbors have once they have actually moved into their house (houses that are being worked on and are empty for months on end are a different story, however). To turn a phrase made popular by Rick James: "Copper pipe is a hellava metal!" Dave Chapelle Show fans will get that reference.
Bravo35233 gave a great breakdown on the schools. He did not mention Alabama School of Fine Arts, which is a highly ranked school that has a test based entry requirement. He also did not mention Ramsay HS, which is part of Bham City Schools. Their students do well, generally come from middle class backgrounds, have parents that are very involved in the school activities and academics, score well above the state averages on the standardized tests. A high percentage of its graduates go to college (I'm working on getting the actual percentage). It's part of Bham City Schools and is mostly black so, unfortunately, it gets lumped all together with the general "do not consider sending your child here" list that most suburbanites subscribe to here.
If you email me I will send you some links about intown living that may be interesting to you.
If you decide to send your child to John Carroll High you might consider The Historical Bessemer Neighborhood. John Carroll is about 15 minutes away, just down Lakeshore Drive from us. We live here and send our children to private school. Our home is 5800 sq. feet and built in 1900..........we paid 170k for it! People on here will prolly slam me for suggesting this because our community still has it's share of petty crime and is about a mile away from a housing project. We have not had ANY problems. Real estate agents(not around Bessemer) seem to share the opinion that our city is on the upswing. JMO, if you are looking for an older-affordable home and want to send you child to John Carroll, Bessemer might be a good fit for ya!
I have a myspace page devoted to the homes in the area it is
Yes, our neighborhood in this south area of Fort Wayne is very diverse in every way. It's practically the only "diverse" part of Fort Wayne. The high school my daughter attends is ranked as one of the most diverse in the country. It's the kind of neighborhood in which the economic level changes street by street, you know? Our house, which we paid 105,000 for 8 years ago, buts up against a probably 500K house (the "rich people's house" we call it) , with pool and tennis court, etc.. But if you follow our street up one block, you come to houses that would probably sell for a bit below 100K today - 2-story frame houses built in the 20's and 30's that are popular with first-time homeowners because they have character and are relatively inexpensive. And then one more block takes you to houses that are one step "below" that and are composed of many rentals.
So that's what we're accustomed to, and that's what we like!
I have another question about schools as we are working through this (I will know more about if we are moving for sure in about a week and a half and be able to throw myself more into questions then). What is the "policy" on going to schools outside your district? Here in FW, there is *some* crossing over because of desire for AP programs and so on, and I believe you have to pay 2500 or so in tuition to attend a high school you're not zoned for.
Is there much of this in Birmingham?
The reason I ask is that my daughter has a specific activity that she's very good at, and really hopes to continue competing in - but Shades Valley, to my knowledge, doesn't offer it. She has said at this point, she would pick IB over this activity, but I really think that if she gets to the national level in competition for this activity this year, she might be rethinking that. (I don't want to get too specific at this point). So I am basically wondering what the policy/practices/thinking about high school "shopping" is in Birmingham - because I note a couple of schools in the area that do have strong teams in that activity. Here in Fort Wayne, the elementary schools are *all* magnet schools (very unusual), so it is common, on that level, for kids to go outside of their zone to attend the science school, the arts school and so on, so that kind of cross-zone attendance is common, even up to high school.
To attend Jefferson County IB, all you have to do is live in the County, apply, meet the requirements and hope they have an opening. If all of these planets line up, then you're ready to go...to be certain, please contact the Jefferson County Board of Education or the school itself before making any decisions.
If you decide to live in Shelby County, the high schools I listed are all very good academically and The Shelby County Board of Education has their IB program located at Hoover High....so there indeed may be some 'crossing over" permitted. You would need to check with the Shelby County BOE to get an accurate answer.
For a 200k house, I would choose the school and then decide on where to live based on the school you choose. You should be able to find something in the 200+K range in those school's areas.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $53,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.
Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.