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Old 03-07-2019, 11:13 AM
 
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I'm hours into school district research and....it's overwhelming. My husband and I and two kids (Kindergarten and a newborn) are moving to Westchester. What school districts would you absolutely avoid in Westchester County?

Background: we are moving from living 13 years in Brooklyn for more space, a yard, and safety. We value economic and ethnic diversity in our community as well as inclusivity, a liberal attitude, and a lively(ish) downtown. The typical young Brooklyn family that still has to commute. to midtown for work.

I hear a lot about the good school districts, but which ones would you absolutely avoid??
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Old 03-07-2019, 12:24 PM
 
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I would avoid any area where people live in just to be in a good school district. Pick a place that has a good location with access to amenities you care about. When you have found that place, then the school district will be fine.. Don't they say 90% of learning happens at home anyways?

I get so sick of hearing everyone obsess about school district like it is some magic bullet to fortune and fame.. College admission officers can spot families that do that easily.

Naturally, my spouse disagrees with my opinions :-)
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Old 03-07-2019, 12:46 PM
 
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There are about 35-40 school districts in Westchester. I would only absolutely avoid about 5 of them. But I am not you. You might look to avoid ones that I wouldn't, and vice verse. For instance, you value ethnic diversity, I don't - because the things I value in people are not unique to any one ethnicity (kindness, thoughtfulness, punctuality, work-ethic, etc), and I don't care whether a person is white, black, yellow or whatever. Further, I don't know what inclusivity means in terms of a neighborhood. Same for liberal attitude. So, I would not be able to help you.

I think people on this board can help you a bit more if you identified your budget, whether you are buying a single family home or not, and what type of commute you can tolerate (also if you will be commuting during rush hour/taking a train, or not). We can then rather easily narrow your search significantly. Then, armed with a much smaller list of districts, you can work on investigating them with regard to your stated criteria, which are more subjective and hard for others to define in way consistent with how you view them.
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Old 03-07-2019, 02:05 PM
 
674 posts, read 663,015 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shell10036 View Post
I'm hours into school district research and....it's overwhelming. My husband and I and two kids (Kindergarten and a newborn) are moving to Westchester. What school districts would you absolutely avoid in Westchester County?

Background: we are moving from living 13 years in Brooklyn for more space, a yard, and safety. We value economic and ethnic diversity in our community as well as inclusivity, a liberal attitude, and a lively(ish) downtown. The typical young Brooklyn family that still has to commute. to midtown for work.

I hear a lot about the good school districts, but which ones would you absolutely avoid??

I think the only way I can offer an opinion is to tell you which school districts have adversely impacted home value in my opinion. I think Peekskill, Mount Vernon and Yonkers can hurt home value. But I also think these are all solid schools, far better than NYC schools. If you are using the big powerhouse disctricts in the lower county as the target, than these may fall farthest from those schools, but these are still strong schools.

I think the biggest bargains for good schools at a lower home price are Ossining, Croton, Lakeland and Yorktown. The prices here are lower than most of the county. Croton and Yorktown schools are usually thought of as better than Lakeland and Ossining, but not by much. These schools are a longer commute though.

the only school district I would avoid right now is the Hendrick Hudson district. Its not because its a bad school. this district got 25% of its funding from the Indian Point power plant, which is shutting down. Its a huge financial hole to fill and I would not move into the area until I see how it all works out. So i fyou are still looking in say 5 to 7 years, I might look there. But for now, no.

Good luck to you.
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Old 03-07-2019, 02:16 PM
 
626 posts, read 486,373 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koctail View Post
I would avoid any area where people live in just to be in a good school district. Pick a place that has a good location with access to amenities you care about. When you have found that place, then the school district will be fine.. Don't they say 90% of learning happens at home anyways?

I agree with koctail, and for that reason my wife and I did not consider districts with that reputation, such as Scarsdale, Bronxville, Chappaqua, Rye Brook, etc. It is wholly a personal choice, but I'm turned off by these pressure cooker school districts which tend to attract parents who are hell bent on getting their first grader into Princeton.


That said, my wife and I are very well educated and there are a few districts where the numbers are so bad that we would absolutely not have considered them. Those are Mt. Vernon, Yonkers and Peekskill. I also personally do not like the New Rochelle school district, and my favorite district that has more of an urban and mixed economic/racial feel is White Plains.


We ended up choosing the Mamaroneck district and are very, very happy here. We strongly considered White Plains, Mamaroneck, Pelham, Dobbs Ferry, and Hastings, and could not have gone wrong with any of them.


Again, this is totally a personal choice, but for us, we basically eliminated the handful of "worst" districts as well as the "best" ones for different reasons, respectively, and looked right in the middle.
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Old 03-07-2019, 02:25 PM
 
52 posts, read 32,639 times
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Originally Posted by BD1978 View Post
We ended up choosing the Mamaroneck district and are very, very happy here. We strongly considered White Plains, Mamaroneck, Pelham, Dobbs Ferry, and Hastings, and could not have gone wrong with any of them.
This is a pretty good list. I'd add New Rochelle as another district to consider. Note that most people living in a "top" school district would look upon you with horror if you mentioned White Plains or New Rochelle. I don't know NR very well, but I think WP is wildly underrated. Your best bet is to spend a day in these towns and see how they feel to you in order to build your short list.

Also, +1 for Mamaroneck being awesome.
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Old 03-07-2019, 02:33 PM
 
626 posts, read 486,373 times
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Originally Posted by what_the_what View Post
This is a pretty good list. I'd add New Rochelle as another district to consider. Note that most people living in a "top" school district would look upon you with horror if you mentioned White Plains or New Rochelle. I don't know NR very well, but I think WP is wildly underrated. Your best bet is to spend a day in these towns and see how they feel to you in order to build your short list.

Also, +1 for Mamaroneck being awesome.

Thanks and yes, there are certain Westchester residents in some of the "top" districts we avoided who thought we were certifiably insane for so strongly considering White Plains. I personally like WP a lot more than New Rochelle, as it has both a nicer downtown and in my opinion a better and safer school district. White Plains is one of the rare communities in Westchester that has actual middle class people, which I really like about it.


And yeah the Mamaroneck district rocks!
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Old 03-07-2019, 08:29 PM
 
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@shell10036: former brooklynite of 15+ years that moved to westchester from prospect heights. in my mind, if we were moving from bk, we were only moving for the best schools. but i grew up in pressure cooker schools, so that's all i know. feel free to DM.

put another way, if you are moving up here, the school district to avoid are the ones where you can easily afford the houses.
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Old 03-08-2019, 05:59 AM
 
Location: Where my bills arrive
8,065 posts, read 9,496,710 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shell10036 View Post
I'm hours into school district research and....it's overwhelming. My husband and I and two kids (Kindergarten and a newborn) are moving to Westchester. What school districts would you absolutely avoid in Westchester County?

Background: we are moving from living 13 years in Brooklyn for more space, a yard, and safety. We value economic and ethnic diversity in our community as well as inclusivity, a liberal attitude, and a lively(ish) downtown. The typical young Brooklyn family that still has to commute. to midtown for work.

I hear a lot about the good school districts, but which ones would you absolutely avoid??
Identify communities that appeal to you first and are within your price range then look at the schools. You the parents will be the biggest factor on your child's success, going to the "better" schools is no guarantee to success in life. Diversity is not often appreciated and for many that is a word to avoid, many perceive that their child is gifted when the reality is they are just an average child....and there's nothing wrong with that.

When you think you have some schools that interest you go visit them, nothing like seeing for yourself and judging if it feels right. Best of luck on your new home....
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Old 03-08-2019, 08:07 AM
 
52 posts, read 32,639 times
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Originally Posted by VA Yankee View Post
You the parents will be the biggest factor on your child's success, going to the "better" schools is no guarantee to success in life. Diversity is not often appreciated and for many that is a word to avoid
So true. New York state has a website with school district report cards. It gives really good context for the standardized test scores as it breaks them down by demographics within each district. For instance you can see if 'non-economically disadvantaged' kids or 'non-ESL' are performing any differently across districts. The differences are very small between the pressure cooker districts and most others. You miss those nuances when you just look at the overall test scores in more diverse districts.
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