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Old 02-10-2008, 08:47 PM
 
8 posts, read 27,594 times
Reputation: 11

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Hi,
I have diligently read this forum for the past month or so, but I haven't found the answers to my questions, so here goes.
Background: I'm considering a job in DC w/commute to Foggy Bottom metro. My husband will work too, but we have no idea where yet - could be anywhere. I have two young kids (4 and 7). The 7-year-old is so-called "highly gifted" and loves to play the violin. Our house budget is around $500k or so.
Here are the questions:
Where can we live within our budget and get the very best schools for the kids. (It's not easy to research the gifted center feeder school boundaries, or to know which gifted schools are best).
- we want to be close to metro to foggy bottom
- we need a gifted center for 7year-old
- would love youth orchestra program for 7-year-old
- house price is probably an issue
- would like good school pyramid w/good after-school care programs
- area w/lots of families
- We are a mixed race family and want ethnic diversity esp at schools

Is it too much to ask? This is our dream!
Thank you!
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Old 02-11-2008, 08:12 AM
 
7,968 posts, read 18,076,790 times
Reputation: 2593
I think I can answer at least a few of your questions.

If you want to start from finding a gifted school and working your way from there, I'd recommend Stratford Landing in the Mount Vernon/South Alexandria section of Fairfax County. I know someone who works there and the school has a very good reputation for its gifted and special education programs.

You'll appreciate that the student population is like the United Nations. Beyond the gifted students, the school draws from the surrounding upper-class neighborhood as well as the nearby working-to-middle-class minority neighborhood (Gum Springs).

The school is located on the east side of the Route 1 corridor (aka Richmond Highway). You may have already read some posts about its challenged past... as well as my thoughts on its recent improvements. $500K will get you further than it used to but still may only rate a really nice townhouse or single-level home.

If you are able to find a place near Stratford Landing, you will be 3 miles south of the Huntington Metrorail station. Take the Yellow Line train two stops to King Street and change to the Blue Line which will take you to Foggy Bottom. I would say it's a 30-minute train ride.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cynthcore View Post
Hi,
I have diligently read this forum for the past month or so, but I haven't found the answers to my questions, so here goes.
Background: I'm considering a job in DC w/commute to Foggy Bottom metro. My husband will work too, but we have no idea where yet - could be anywhere. I have two young kids (4 and 7). The 7-year-old is so-called "highly gifted" and loves to play the violin. Our house budget is around $500k or so.
Here are the questions:
Where can we live within our budget and get the very best schools for the kids. (It's not easy to research the gifted center feeder school boundaries, or to know which gifted schools are best).
- we want to be close to metro to foggy bottom
- we need a gifted center for 7year-old
- would love youth orchestra program for 7-year-old
- house price is probably an issue
- would like good school pyramid w/good after-school care programs
- area w/lots of families
- We are a mixed race family and want ethnic diversity esp at schools

Is it too much to ask? This is our dream!
Thank you!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-11-2008, 08:20 AM
 
2,462 posts, read 8,053,821 times
Reputation: 995
I would suggest Arlington, which has the good schools/easy commute to various employment centers/many Metro stops/diverse population/lots of families. However, $500K would probably limit you either to a townhouse or an older SFH in need of extensive remodeling. If you want the "best" schools, you would want to be in the Yorktown pyramid in North Arlington, where the housing is most expensive. And Arlington County does not have separate gifted centers or schools.

Fairfax County has excellent schools, with highly gifted children (approximately the top 3% as determined largely by standardized testing in 2nd grade) being offered spots in gifted and talented "centers," which may or may not be your home school, for grades 3 through 8. There are no separate gifted centers for younger children. If your child doesn't make the initial cut on the test scores, you can ask for consideration based on parent and teacher recommendations, but it's not a sure thing, especially if your child's home school already has a high number of students who qualify based on test scores. If your child doesn't qualify as "gifted," or you choose for other reasons to keep him at your home school, there are school-based gifted programs offered at all elementary schools, with varying levels of quality depending upon who's running the program at your school.

Vienna is the end (or beginning) of the Orange Line, which stops at Foggy Bottom. For $500K, you might find a decent SFH in Vienna, but it will be older, not huge, and probably need some updates. If you want more or a newer house for that money, you'll have to go further out, and either drive to Metro (not bad if you leave early) or drive to work (can be very bad).
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:20 AM
 
8 posts, read 27,594 times
Reputation: 11
Default Fairfax County

In my mind, I would prefer Arlington to Fairfax Co., but I'm worried about schools. My daughter was moved ahead a grade this year and is already bored again. She needs a great gifted program, and she definitely qualifies for the Fairfax Co gifted center program.

What about Lake Barcroft area?
Other parts of Alexandria? (though I think they have their own schools too, right?)
Falls Church?

Thanks again!
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:58 AM
 
2,462 posts, read 8,053,821 times
Reputation: 995
Lake Barcroft is a nice enclave of single-family homes, some relatively modern (for the DC area), surrounded by an increasingly lower-income immigrant area. Stuart, the high school serving the Lake Barcroft neighborhood, is not one of the higher-performing schools. Yes, there is TJ, but admissions are fiercely competitive, and every year many highly gifted students are rejected, so you can't really count on it. You might not be planning to stick around that long, however.

Alexandria City has its own schools, which have a mix of low-income, immigrant, and upper middle class families, although many of the latter choose private schools. Not sure whether they have separate gifted programs -- the school system has struggled in the past with keeping white students from leaving for private schools, and gifted programs are often a carrot to entice them to stay.

The City of Falls Church has a very highly-regarded school system, but it is also very small, and there are no separate schools or centers for gifted students. The parts of Fairfax County adjacent to Falls Church (some of which also bear a Falls Church mailing address) are not part of the Falls Church city school system.

If you are absolutely certain that you want your child in a separate gifted center (and that she will qualify), then Fairfax County is probably your best bet. You might look for homes near Haycock Elementary School (zip 22043? I think) -- Haycock houses one of the two GT centers serving McLean, so that your daughter could be in the gifted program and still be going to school with her neighborhood friends. There are some relatively affordable townhouse communities nearby, plus some modest single-family home neighborhoods. Plus the West Falls Church metro station is just around the corner, and the neighborhood is very convenient to Tyson's, if your husband ends up finding a job there. The neighborhood is diverse in the sense of having whites and Asians from all over the world... not so many blacks or Hispanics.
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Old 02-11-2008, 12:04 PM
 
8 posts, read 27,594 times
Reputation: 11
Thank you, claremarie. That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for.
I don't know the ins and outs of small school districts with no gifted centers v. large school district with gifted centers. We're in Palm Beach, FL in a gifted center now, and it's the absolute pits. I don't want a repeat of that under any circumstances!
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