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Old 08-19-2013, 02:05 PM
 
4 posts, read 10,921 times
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My husband and I are seriously considering moving to Burlington next year and have a 4 year old and 10 month old sons. We are going to be in Burlington next week for about 2 weeks scouting it out, getting the feel, and also visiting schools.

Can anyone tell me what public schools are good and which ones aren't great? Are the two newish charter schools good? I am not as interested in test scores, but in small class sizes and a good positive, healthy environment for my children where they will enjoy learning and have a great experience. We aren't sure where we will be living, but most likely in the city (not in the outlying towns). I have heard the new north and south burlington are cheaper places to live, so we might end up there. How are the public schools there?

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks.
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Old 08-23-2013, 02:35 PM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
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I'm not sure which schools you are referring to that are new. What grades do they cover? The public schools for K-5 are all typically fine in Burlington. We have several friends with young children who live in Burlington and non of them have anything bad to say outside of the usual nit picky stuff. The middle schools are where things start to change. Edmunds and Lyman Hunt don't get great reviews. They are what I call 50/50 schools. Some parents like them and some parents hate them. Burlington High is not a great school. I know you don't care about test results, but they are important. In the major areas, math, reading, science and collage prep, the overall results are below the state averages.
Burlington is a fine town, but when it comes to education, the surrounding towns blow it out of the water. The towns surrounding Burlington with much better schools are Essex, Colchester, South Burlington, Shelburne and Williston. You could not pay me to live in Burlington for the schools alone (unless I was paid to send my kids to private school). There are other things you need to consider as well. The colleges and university have been major problems in the past few years with noise, drunkenness, etc. There have been meetings with the community, police and the schools to try and find a way to control the problem.
In all honesty you could live outside of Burlington and be in town very fast. We live in Colchester with one of the best school systems in the state, a larger/newer home for less money, more land, cheaper taxes, safer community, I don't have to deal with hundreds upon hundreds of tourists, no vagrants, etc and I can be in downtown in less than 10 minutes. I met a friend from the New North End down by the lake this summer and it took me less time to get there than it took him.
I wouldn't eliminate the outlying towns entirely. They have so much more to offer than Burlington. I work in Burlington and the charm wears off fairly quick. If you wanted to be very close, The town of South Burlington is to the east and south of Burlington.
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:43 PM
 
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I agree with 68vette about Burlington (unless you have the $ for private school or Catholic School). There are some kids who go to Burlington High School who make it to Ivy League colleges & do well but Burlington's challenges continue to increase.

As to towns around Burlington, I would go with Colchester, Essex, Shelburne or Williston before South Burlington.

South Burlington has the airport and the loud noise from the Air National Guard fighter jets. The noise is only going to get worse with the F-35's. You might buy a house, thinking you are getting a good deal, and find that you can't sell it to anyone because it no longer qualifies for a mortgage and your City Council doesn't give a hoot. 2 of the 3 elementary schools are underperforming (it's no coincidence they are the 2 nearest the airport) as City Council abandons them in order to do the bidding of the US military.

South Burlington has grown so much in the last 15 years, it is becoming much more like Burlington. As they have been increasing the high-density, multi-story subsidized housing and moving away from single-family developments, test scores are (unfortunately but predictably) going down and crime is increasing. Now of course that is relatively-speaking. Vermont as a whole has a low crime rate and South Burlington will not seem to have major crime if you are moving here from within the city limits of any major city like Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, etc. That said, there have been several drug killings and major drug deals happening in the new high-density, subsidized housing that past South Burlington City Councils and Planning Commissions embraced with open arms as part of their growth obsession. So while South Burlington schools once were very good, they are going downhill based on test scores and the changing demographics. Colchester might end up that way also, what with Severance Corners, etc. but they still have a ways to go.

Finally, there is going to be a methadone clinic right next to the Middle School and High School. Think about it: when your 4 year old reaches 6th grade, do you want him walking to the bus or soccer practice next to the methadone clinic? There are a lot of success stories from meth. clinics so I don't begrudge the treatment at all. There are also unfortunately many stories of break-ins and crime from desperate people. Hard-core heroin & crack addicts deserve the chance to get better but does it make sense to have the clinic adjacent to the Middle School & High School? The South Burlington City Council and past Planning Commissions are destroying what was once a very nice community. They prefer to do the bidding of out-of-town big developers (read big $$) than listen to their own residents and the schools are unfortunately suffering because of it. On the other hand, South Burlington is very close to Burlington so it's an easy commute if you don't have kids and don't need to worry about the school system or safety of your children.

Last edited by URob; 08-23-2013 at 09:16 PM..
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:21 PM
 
41 posts, read 73,208 times
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Need to add to my original comment that I have heard good things about the Lawrence Barnes Sustainability Academy/Elementary School in Burlington. I know someone who's a teacher there who is very dedicated to her job and has a great reputation. It is one of the charter schools and is in the Old North End, which is considered a somewhat challenged/higher crime area but again, some of this depends on where you are moving from. Old North End has some of the same issues as parts of South Burlington - drug deals; some property crime, etc. Some areas are a bit of a student slum. While test scores in Burlington and Winooski have gone down dramatically in the last decade, some of it is because of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. "No Child Left Behind" forced standardized testing on everyone, including all the brand new immigrant refugee students, even those who just arrived and speak no English. Many of these students live in Burlington or Winooski. But some of these immigrant families do really value education and take it very seriously so test scores from when they are right off the boat (or airplane) should not necessarily reflect poorly on the school. As for Burlington or South Burlington, you will have to decide what you think works best for your family. But I think you can't go wrong in Essex, Shelburne, Williston & Colchester.
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:28 PM
 
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Thanks for your replies! We're now in Burlington and we're going to check out some schools this week, but we'll also check out outlying towns. I guess the problem I have with living outside burlington is that it will feel like the burbs and we will be totally dependent on a car, both of which I hate.

Any insights into Brattleboro, another option for us?
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
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There are people who can get by without a car (typically single), but for a family it is extremely difficult to get around without a car. The public transportation system in Burlington is the best in the state, but compared to other states, it's not very good. It's not a 24/7 system and does not cover all areas. For things like dentist appointments, doctors appointments, grocery shopping, kids activities, etc, you may find the system challenging. For many or most of these things you need service now, not in a half hour or hour. A good example is pediatrician offices that are accepting new patients. You may end up with an office in Essex or one of the outlying towns with little or no bus service. If you live in downtown Burlington, you will essentially be limited to shopping at City Market. The store is great, but it's not family cost friendly. Bus service will reach some of the outlying markets, but carrying a large number of bags on a bus is not as easy as it may seem.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:12 PM
 
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Any thoughts on Hinesberg or Richmond?
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:48 PM
 
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Question to original poster: Which area did you decide to live?
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:27 AM
 
Location: Burlington VT Soon to be Pueblo CO
24 posts, read 43,216 times
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Do not, I repeat, do not send your children to Barnes. Unless you like your kids being bullied and then told by the guidance dept that it's your child's fault for having a disability. Or teachers who do not care about the students. Or the open air drug market on North Street (as well as violent activity). It's a bad, bad place. Put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig. Worst school in Burlington. Essex and South Burlington have better schools.
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Bellingham Washington
9 posts, read 9,366 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samay View Post
Thanks for your replies! We're now in Burlington and we're going to check out some schools this week, but we'll also check out outlying towns. I guess the problem I have with living outside burlington is that it will feel like the burbs and we will be totally dependent on a car, both of which I hate.

Any insights into Brattleboro, another option for us?
I know it's been a couple of years but if you want a town you can walk and live in then Montpelier is the place. Best elementary school in the nation as far as I'm concerned. They renovated a 75 yr old school keeping it just the way it was (difficult task) while adding modernity. Just beautiful.
You'd better have a job or money though. You can't show up to a town like Montpelier and say "hey, now let's get jobs." No havage that cabbage.
Burlington has been ruined by people reading about "Best Cities" online and then they move there. Then they find out about the realities of living in Vermont. You should either be a rich kid being sent to school or have a good job because you'll be frozen out quick. And I don't just mean the ice.

We own homes in Montpelier, Seattle, Bellingham WA, Minnesota and Boston and it's happening in all those places. It's funny, if people just stayed where they were and tried to make it better then all this moving wouldn't be going on....the country would have grown naturally instead of being retarded by growth. I know, an oxymoron, but think about it.

I was a location scout for various studios for many years so when I was in a town I liked I'd buy a house. We live mainly in the Montpelier and Bellingham homes but find ourselves in Boston quite often. Enough so we never rent it out to anyone.

Cities are becoming transient locations in that the internet has turned everyone into a guru (they think). Also, the U.S. has become like the cereal aisle at a grocery store....a thousand choices but really, they're all the same thing.
It's all about establishing roots which a lot of people (especially under 35) don't seem to know how to do anymore. They're changing their minds too often. I know I sound like an old guy but I trail ran 5 miles this morning in the rain (Stimpson Family Nature Preserve). I've traveled a whole gob all over the country

It used to be that a University made a town better...that's changing with Burlington. University of Vermont is terrific but it's ruining the very city it resides within. Same with Madison Wisconsin. And a gob of others I could jot down at a moments notice.
It's a shame.

Good luck to whomever reads this and I'm open to receiving emails for questions about wherever...or you could just email me and berate me. Either way, I'll enjoy it.
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