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Old 09-10-2014, 02:43 PM
 
14 posts, read 12,000 times
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My husband got a job offer in White Plains and we're trying to figure out which communities may be a good fit for our family. We're currently in a suburb of Boston & close to our families, which is nice. But, this move could be good for my husband career-wise. He'd be making a much higher salary, but with the higher cost of living in most Westchester/Fairfield communities, that may be a wash. We'd prefer a 3bd/2 ba, at least 1500 sq ft, at least 5,000 sq ft lot (what we have now), max $700K. Good schools, but not pressure cooker (have read that several towns are super-high pressure!). Good special ed is a must, as our 5 year old has global dyspraxia, SPD, speech and language disorders, and anxiety (luckily, seems like most in the area are well-regarded, but still trying to get specifics). In NY, I've seen some nice properties listed in Pleasantville, Katonah, and Croton-on-Hastings. In CT, Wilton and Ridgefield look really nice. My only concern about CT is the commute looks horrible, since there's really only 1 or 2 routes in. My husband's commute now is over an hour each way and I'd REALLY like to cut that down for him if possible!

Thanks for any info you can offer!
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Old 09-10-2014, 03:17 PM
 
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Why not also look at White Plains since your husband will be working there? There are a lot of nice neighborhoods in your price range, you will get a better tax rate than most other places, and your husband's commute will be unbeatable.

I can't answer from direct experience anything about the special ed programs, but I know families who have children in those programs and have heard nothing but good things.
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Old 09-10-2014, 06:35 PM
 
Location: Armonk NY
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Ridgefield will be about 40 to 50 (longer if bad traffic on Rt. 35) minutes depending upon where in Ridgefield and where your husband will be working within the City of WP - Wilton even worse.

Katonah is great. We are in Byram Hills SDand the schools are great - my son has ADHD - but it is a bit of a pressure cooker. Pleasantville also nice but I can't speak to special education programs. Also perhaps Westlake Schools - Thornwood/Hawthorne. Also may want to consider Bedford (Fox Lane) where there is a greater mix because of the large immigrant population in Mount Kisco. Bedford is a large area and you can find a nice house in your price range.

The commute from Croton on Hudson to WP can be a bit of a pain.
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Old 09-10-2014, 06:53 PM
 
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Hominamad, we will look into White Plains itself. Thanks for the suggestion. I guess I hadn't considered it because I didn't think the schools were very good (maybe they are fine, but not as great as many in the rest of the county?)? Which neighborhoods would you say we should look into? We'd prefer one with families somewhat similar to us (young kids, walk to local playground and/or school would be great). Being able to walk to a local coffee shop, pizza place, library, etc. would be excellent as well.

John70, thanks for your comments. My husband actually spoke today with someone who lives in Wilton who told him the commute to WP would only be like 45 minutes - seems hard for me believe (unless going off-peak). As far as Ridgefield goes, that was my impression - 45-60 minutes. So, Katonah is a village of Bedford? Is that the right terminology? And Fox Lane is another village? Does each village have it's own elementary school then feed into a common middle and high school? Would you consider all schools in Bedford (and it's villages) to be pressure-cooker?

Anyone else out their with kids on IEPs who can recommend/not recommend their district? Anyone in Pleasantville, Croton-On-Hastings, or Bedford?
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Old 09-10-2014, 09:25 PM
 
Location: Toronto
815 posts, read 1,988,576 times
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Just an FYI about White Plains, they don't have "neighborhood" schools, they ask you to make your top three choices and then assign you to a school, which could be anywhere in the city. I know someone who lives in WP 5 minutes from a certain elementary school but was assigned to the furthest elementary school from their home. Sucks. And yes, they bus everyone.

Fox Lane is the name of the middle and high school in the Bedford school district. It is a large district with some diversity because it includes Mt Kisco. I don't think it would be considered one of the "pressure cooker" districts like Scarsdale, Chappaqua, Bronxville, etc.

Also, be aware that school districts here do not match up with village/town/city boundaries or names. You can find a house with a Scarsdale 10583 address that is zoned for Edgemont schools or Eastchester schools, not Scarsdale. A Mt Kisco address can be zoned for Chappaqua schools instead of Bedford, etc. You MUST check this out for EVERY house you look at because you can't assume anything.

I would add Harrison to your list. Easy commute to WP, good schools but not high pressure, and more bang for your buck house wise than other towns. As for walking everywhere, there are really very few places here where you can actually do that. If you happen to find a house for your budget right near a village center then yay, but it's probably not likely.

Good luck!
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Old 09-10-2014, 10:01 PM
 
Location: Armonk NY
425 posts, read 954,863 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sedo View Post
So, Katonah is a village of Bedford? Is that the right terminology? And Fox Lane is another village? Does each village have it's own elementary school then feed into a common middle and high school? Would you consider all schools in Bedford (and it's villages) to be pressure-cooker?

Anyone else out their with kids on IEPs who can recommend/not recommend their district? Anyone in Pleasantville, Croton-On-Hastings, or Bedford?
Katonah is technically a hamlet in the Town of Bedford. By Katonah I mean the Katonah Lewisboro School District. The HS is John Jay and its a very well regarded school district but not as intense as Scarsdale/Chappaqua/Armonk/Rye/Bronxville/Ardsley.

The Bedford School District, (Fox Lane) is sometimes looked down upon since the "scores" are not as high due to an immigrant influx from Mount Kisco and is not quite the "pressure cooker" of the "top" schools. However, its one of the wealthiest areas of the county -- but not as highly concentrated wealth as in, for example, Scarsdale....In Bedford/Katonah/Pound Ridge there are lots of raised ranches and blue collar folks in pickup trucks and there is also the Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, Joseph Abboud, Richard Gere, Michael Douglas, Hedge Fund guys, old money etc. etc.. etc... The wealthy are really wealthy.

The farther north you go the more you get for you money. So with a budget of 700k ish you will find larger homes with more property in the Bedford and Katonah Lewisboro School Districts. And if you are close to 684 the drive into White Plains is very managable.

North of 287 Pleasantville and Katonah are the most "walkable" villages. Chappaqua to a lesser extent.
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Old 09-11-2014, 08:34 AM
 
277 posts, read 560,110 times
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I wrote a bunch in some older posts about WP and the schools, etc. If you look at some of my past posts you can find it - but, in a nutshell, I think the district is very underrated. The school district often gets passed over because WP has a large non-English speaking/immigrant population. If you just look at test scores, you can definitely get the impression that the district isn't as good as others in Westchester. That said, it's not necessarily for everyone. It is a diverse district and much larger than other districts in the county. But I love WP - it's hybrid city/suburb that has a little bit of everything.

If I were you I would definitely at least look around there - esp since it is also where you husband will be working. The highlands neighborhood is a great place for families - nice leafy green streets with kids out playing, etc. Only problem there is the lots tend to be on the small side. I would also recommend the Rosedale section.

To address what streetsmart said - there are 5 elementary schools. All of them have exactly the same curriculum, the same facilities, etc. Before the school year they have tours of all the schools where you meet the principals, and see the schools. Then you choose your top 3. I think the statistic is that 85% of people get their first choice, and of the remaining 15%, 100% of them get their second choice. I haven't personally met anyone that did not get their first choice. We live 5 minutes walking distance to one of the schools but ended up choosing one that was on the other side of town because we really liked the principal. It all works out in the end because everyone loves the school that they end up in.
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:10 AM
 
Location: Toronto
815 posts, read 1,988,576 times
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Originally Posted by hominamad View Post
To address what streetsmart said - there are 5 elementary schools. All of them have exactly the same curriculum, the same facilities, etc. Before the school year they have tours of all the schools where you meet the principals, and see the schools. Then you choose your top 3. I think the statistic is that 85% of people get their first choice, and of the remaining 15%, 100% of them get their second choice. I haven't personally met anyone that did not get their first choice. We live 5 minutes walking distance to one of the schools but ended up choosing one that was on the other side of town because we really liked the principal. It all works out in the end because everyone loves the school that they end up in.
My son't friend is currently at their 3rd choice school. Not sure what happened but it's true. So, it does happen. Probably not often, but it's a consideration.
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:05 PM
 
Location: White Plains, NY
34 posts, read 41,985 times
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I highly recommend the White Plains schools. I attended them from the first day of kindergarten through the last day of high school. I'm now raising my children in White Plains, and will be sending my oldest to kindergarten in the public schools next year. A number of my friends from growing up are back here and have kids in (or about to be in) the public schools. Everyone I talk to with kids in the schools is happy with the education their kids are getting. If you'd like to talk about them, I'd be happy to chat with you.
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Old 09-12-2014, 10:30 AM
 
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I just wanted to add to discussion that the head of the special ed program for White Plains is so dedicated to helping children. Our child received services in preschool. Throughout the transition process to kindergarten, he came to my child's preschool to observe, sent another staff member to also meet with my child, and we had a whole team of people analyze his case & meet with us before we even started school. Maybe this is standard for all school districts, but I was still happy to see how much personal involvement went into analyzing my child's case. In this day in age, when you have to fight every dollar that is spent for your child, I think it helps to choose a school district that has someone in charge of the program that would be a strong advocate for your child and is easy to work with.

I am not sure how the school choice provision in WP would affect you, in that, if your child needs a set of specific services, a certain school may be designated as providing those. We actually got our second choice school, but it was a toss up for me between first choice and second choice anyways. All in all, I always recommend that you check out each school district's website, attend some of the PTA meetings for parents of special needs students & try and get in touch of with the director of the special needs program. See how accessible the staff is before you even start school & listen to the parent's stories of what they have to go through to secure services for their child.

And let me put your mind at ease - you are moving to one of the wealthiest areas of the the country, where your child will probably be receiving the most amount of services than any other part of the country. Whichever school district you choose in a safe neighborhood / town - your child is going to be in good hands. Don't try and move so far away from work because some schools don't have the same reputation as others - check it out for yourself.
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