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Old 12-02-2012, 11:13 PM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
5 posts, read 4,688 times
Reputation: 10

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Hi all, I live with my husband and three kids (13, 10, and 5) in Alexandria, south of Old Town. We've been here 12 years, love it for the most part, other than the traffic, but we need/want a bigger house and can't afford one in this zip code (22308). We originally moved here for proximity to DC/Old Town for work, but that's no longer an issue. My husband works from home now, and I'm a face painter--I work at my clients' homes or businesses, so neither of us is tied to the area for a commute. We want to sell our house here and buy something bigger in the 700K range. Also, my oldest starts high school next year, and West Potomac does not have the greatest reputation, or school ranking. So we're considering two options--moving to Ellicott City, MD, or staying in Fairfax County but moving further west, like the Fairfax Station area. Both have more affordable housing and better high schools, but I'm having a hard time comparing the two and making a decision! I do like Virginia a lot, and the great state college system is a big draw for down the road, but my husband and I both grew up in Maryland and we like the Baltimore vibe a lot, too. What do people think about Howard County versus Fairfax County public schools? Howard is supposed to be very good, but I don't have any first-hand knowledge, since I went to school in Anne Arundel Co. Thanks!
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:28 AM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 3,859,685 times
Reputation: 869
What is the appeal of Columbia over say Leesburg or Frederick? Is it possible to renovate/add on to your current place (minimize disruption for your kids)
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:11 PM
 
7,965 posts, read 18,038,005 times
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You may benefit from asking about Howard County schools on the Washington DC suburbs of Maryland sub-forum. While there may be some people on the NOVA forum who have experience on both sides of the river, you may find more folks on the other forum that are able to answer your questions about that part of MD.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:18 PM
 
7,965 posts, read 18,038,005 times
Reputation: 2588
In my childless layperson's opinion (albeit with a wife as a FCPS employee), I would not worry so much about West Potomac's reputation. It is true that West Potomac is one of the most socioeconomically diverse high schools in a generally diverse county. However, it is unlikely that your children's level of motivation will be affected in a negative way by that. Not to mention that your kids may be bummed to lose their friends with a move.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,615,182 times
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I used to work in education and had a chance to visit a fair number of schools. Howard County definitely has some great schools. I know that Centennial High School, in particular, is supposed to be very good. Money does go a lot further in Howard County, and it is a nice community. The location is also a good midway point to visit both DC and Baltimore. I do like the Virginia Higher Education system better though, just in terms of number of choices (and I say that as a U. of MD grad school grad). I think it would be best to explore both places very well and see what you feel. Nothing beats first-hand visits. I do think you will find Howard County less congested. It's also more convenient for heading to the beach or up to NY/Philly, if either of those matter to you. Good luck!
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,557 posts, read 33,276,704 times
Reputation: 32104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone509 View Post
In my childless layperson's opinion (albeit with a wife as a FCPS employee), I would not worry so much about West Potomac's reputation. It is true that West Potomac is one of the most socioeconomically diverse high schools in a generally diverse county. However, it is unlikely that your children's level of motivation will be affected in a negative way by that. Not to mention that your kids may be bummed to lose their friends with a move.
^This.

I have a few friends who graduated from West Potomac and are currently in solid careers after graduating college or in the military. It is a kissing cousin to TC Williams which I graduated from and what I would say is that provided your kids are academically motivated, they will not be negatively affected by any "riff-raff" at WP.

Just as a note, Maryland ranks very well in education and Howard Co is ranked as the top system. I would also advise that MD public schools have a hourly comm. service requirement in HS.
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
5 posts, read 4,688 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks, all, for your input. I will post my question on the Maryland side, as well, thanks for pointing that out! (maybe I am a Virginian now!) stpickrell, the traffic on 95 and 66 is my biggest objection to Frederick and Leesburg, and also Fredericksburg. We've already added and renovated as much as we can here...putting any more money into this small, dated house won't pay off, unfortunately. I am glad to hear the favorable reviews of West Potomac; I know a lot of my neighbors have been perfectly happy with it for their kids, and I know the performing arts/music department is top notch. My kids are coming up to the age where a switch won't be *as* traumatic for them as further on down the road: they'll be starting high school, starting middle school, and starting 1st grade next school year. So if we're going to move, it has to be this summer, otherwise a move will be much more disrupting for them. Centennial and Mt. Hebron are the two high school districts we're looking in. I just think there's more of a "small town" feel to Ellicott City; it has a lot of the same charm as Alexandra without as much sprawl. And we can buy a gorgeous, large home for the same payment we have now in our small, old-but-not-historic house. Fairfax Station will mean a higher house payment, I think. How does South County High School compare to West Potomac? Or Woodson? We've looked at a few houses in those neighborhoods. Thanks!
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