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Old 05-31-2014, 11:43 AM
 
4 posts, read 7,516 times
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My family (husband and 3 kids) are moving to Ocala in July from Ontario Canada. I am an RN and have employment lined up already so this is not an issue. We don't have the opportunity to swing by for a weekend prior to moving so any information on living in the area would be greatly appreciated. We are looking at living in an apartment at first until we have a better idea of the area we want to buy in. It seems like Tuscany Place apartments are at the top of our list....any feedback on these apartments?
I see mention of schools being sub par with a few exceptions. what elementary and high schools are good in Ocala?

I suppose there are pros and cons to Ocala just like anywhere else in the world. We live in the Toronto area...some would say never live here due to crime but that is only one side of the coin....its a beautiful area with lots to offer. I am sure Ocala is the same. Please share both the good and bad of Ocala.
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Old 05-31-2014, 04:48 PM
 
Location: Florida
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I do not know if this is piratical but maybe you can rent for a month or two at a campground.
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:41 PM
 
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Tuscany is nice, I have some friends that live over there and they're ok with it, but not in love with it. I'd recommend Deerwood Village, the apartments I live in, because they're much nicer (I think newer as well), have a ton of amenities comparable to Tuscany, and the location (SE) is way better, also closer to the hospitals (unless you're gonna be working at West Marion). The SE side of Ocala is easily the nicest area of Ocala, and pretty central to anywhere you could go around here. One thing I'll say is that Ocala is vastly different than Toronto. There really isn't a whole lot to offer around here. We have a few museums, Silver Springs, Civic Theatre, and the horse farms, but I have a feeling you'll be disappointed and end up going out of town for most of your recreation. That being said, I like Ocala. It's a nice place to be, especially if you already have employment lined up. Best of luck to you!
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:03 AM
 
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Thanks. I will take a look at Deerwood for sure! do you know what the schools are like in each of the areas? is there a lot of crime in Ocala? I hear a lot about high crime rates but do you have to go looking for it (drugs, shady people) or does it just find you (random assault, theft etc)?
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Old 06-01-2014, 11:33 AM
 
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I believe Forest or Vanguard were the better high schools
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Old 06-01-2014, 06:22 PM
 
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I lived in Deerwood for awhile, and I hated it. I have lived in many different apartments over the years, and that one was by far the worst. It looks nice, but the walls are paper thin. If you live on the bottom floor, you will hear every footstep. If you live on the top floor, your neighbors will complain all the time or quietly stew and hate you. I would avoid Deerwood like the plague. Especially since you have kids and they may end up being loud.

What are your kids' age? Are you looking elementary, middle, high?
The schools around there are fine. If you go high school, they are all good (some marginally better than others). Middle schools can vary a little bit, but the main concern will be elementary. Those can vary wildly.
The criticism on Florida education and Marion in particular is unfounded drivel. People remember reading some report about Florida education in the 90s and assume it still applies today.

In my opinion, I think the best district is one that includes Eighth Street Elementary, Osceola Middle, and Forest High. You can't go wrong. Mainly you need to look for the downtown area.

Please ask away for school questions. That is one area I know very well.
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:09 PM
 
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thank you so much for the school info. we have small kids in elementary and a child in high school. Im not sure what schools are in the Tuscany place area but I think the elementary school is saddlewood. We are unclear if you can send your children to a school outside your home area or not. Are there any elementary schools to absolutely avoid? if so, what are the issues with them.
This is a huge move for us and your information and help is appreciated!!
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:53 AM
 
113 posts, read 160,899 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heather78 View Post
thank you so much for the school info. we have small kids in elementary and a child in high school. Im not sure what schools are in the Tuscany place area but I think the elementary school is saddlewood. We are unclear if you can send your children to a school outside your home area or not. Are there any elementary schools to absolutely avoid? if so, what are the issues with them.
This is a huge move for us and your information and help is appreciated!!
Sorry for the delay. I have been in the process of a lot of stuff.
Also, feel free to PM me about anything.

The general rule is, if you can get accepted into a magnet program, you can go there. For instance, your elementary kids can try and get accepted to Dr. N.H. Jones, which is widely considered the best elementary school in the county. How that process exactly works, I am unsure. My experience is basically limited to secondary education.

Tuscany will place you in West Port High School. That school is fine. What is important about the high schools is that no matter where you go, you try and get into either the magnet program or at least AP courses as they get older.

Here is a link to all the districts. Marion County Public Schools, Ocala, Florida -- Student Assignments and Records
Here is a link to all of the magnet programs. Marion County Public Schools, Ocala, Florida -- Magnet Schools and Programs

From my experience in most of the schools and general reputation, I would rank the high schools as follows:
1. Forest
2. Belleview
3. West Port
4. Lake Weir
5. North Marion; Vanguard
7. Dunnellon
MIT vocational school not ranked because it is only for specific tracks. That doesn't mean it should be avoided. It just means it is only useful if your kid wants to follow that track. You can't join the program until your junior year anyways. It is a cool idea.

Of course rankings are faulty, and as much as I try, I am sure some biases exist in my rankings. But historically, this is probably how these schools fall. I based my rankings on the general population and ignored the magnet programs. The reason why is that the magnet programs are usually very isolated. The kids do not "mix" very much. The schools and the magnet programs should have separate rankings (with the general ranking influencing the magnet one a little bit). So if you get into a magnet program, the rankings probably would look more like this:
1. Vanguard
2. Belleview
3. Forest
4. Lake Weir
5. West Port
6. North Marion
7. Dunnellon

What year will your high schooler be going into? That could really alter everything, in my opinion, because many magnets may be too late to get into, and then you should just get into the district with the best AP programs, and I can wholeheartedly say that is Forest High School.
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:00 AM
 
113 posts, read 160,899 times
Reputation: 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by heather78 View Post
thank you so much for the school info. we have small kids in elementary and a child in high school. Im not sure what schools are in the Tuscany place area but I think the elementary school is saddlewood. We are unclear if you can send your children to a school outside your home area or not. Are there any elementary schools to absolutely avoid? if so, what are the issues with them.
This is a huge move for us and your information and help is appreciated!!
As far as avoiding certain elementary schools, I do not necessarily have a good answer. I think elementary schools are the only ones where grades can actually mean something because they usually slice into a very specific income bracket and, of course, money changes everything. So what I am trying to say is just check school grades for elementary.
Of course elementary, it is far more important to grab the right teacher since they will have the same one all the time and all year long. So at that point, my grade thing kind of breaks down, but short of finding out which teachers are the best, I don't know what to say.
The main problems will likely just be discipline and the distractions they cause.
I can't reiterate enough that I do not have any expertise in elementary. I have just general thoughts about it because of my experience elsewhere.
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:34 PM
 
113 posts, read 160,899 times
Reputation: 52
By grades, I mean the school grades that the state of Florida hands out.
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