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Old 11-02-2011, 02:04 PM
 
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McKinney, Prosper, Lovejoy, Rockwall, Frisco, Little Elm, Sunnyvale, or Argyle?

My wife and I are teachers (high school & elementary, respectively), and we have a 1st grader and a preschooler. We have been in education for 14 years, so we have an idea which factors are important (to us, at least) in looking for a good school district (i.e. factors outside of just test scores).

The community is important, the general disposition of both staff and students in a school is important, and the size of the school is very important.
Having taught in 5A high schools for most of my career, I'd like to have our kids feed into a smaller high school. We're thinking of 3A or 4A schools, under 2000 students.
We've lived the last 13 years in The Woodlands, but we love the Dallas area, and particularly like the areas east and northeast of Dallas.

Any candid opinions and expertise on the matter would be greatly appreciated. We plan to move over the summer of 2012.
School districts we're currently considering:

McKinney, Prosper, Lovejoy, Rockwall, Frisco, Little Elm, Sunnyvale, and Argyle.

Does anyone have thoughts on any of these school districts, from personal or semi-personal experience? Thank you so much!
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Old 11-02-2011, 02:32 PM
 
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I don't have first hand experience with any of these, but have heard good things about Frisco and believe that they are committed to keeping their schools 4A.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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Sunnyvale is 3A and I don't see it ever getting to 4A. It is a very good school district and the community is very very tight. Frisco schools are 4A but most are right at the 4A/5A cutoff. I have heard great things about Prosper but have no first hand experience. No very little about the others you listed.
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:54 PM
 
Location: TX
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Argyle, while a wonderful community is not east of Dallas. It's NorthWEST of Ft Worth.

McKinney ISD and Frisco ISD have both 4A and 5A HS. with the growth I am sure eventually all will be 5A.

Sunnyvale, haven't heard anything negative. Schools rate high etc.
Prosper is another that I have heard good things about.

Little Elm, haven't heard too much about it. Does not have as good of a reputation as others

AND the biggie...Do you have jobs? you mention that you are both teachers, Teaching jobs up here are pretty few and far between.
Get your jobs first then see what a reasonable commute would be. You DO NOT want to live in Prosper and then find out your job is in Mansfield!
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:26 PM
 
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Thanks for the input so far everyone. My geography's obviously a little off with Argyle on the list. It's good to hear from people in the area. 5Stones, the job situation is very much the same here in Houston with the deep cuts our legislature made last session. Ultimately, we won't consider just any school district where we can get jobs, simply because our kids are the biggest part of the equation. We'll apply in the districts with the best reputations to get our kiddos in those good schools or we'll just wait 'til the next year. We both have strong resumes, and the Texas Superintendent of the Year, Dr. John Folks, is a good friend of ours. He knows some of the superintendents up that way and has offered to help any way he can. We hope to have some good fortune in the tough job market. We're working toward piecing a good plan together before we leap. Thanks again for the input! Any further input from anyone is certainly welcomed.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okie_in_TheWoodlands View Post
We've lived the last 13 years in The Woodlands, but we love the Dallas area, and particularly like the areas east and northeast of Dallas.

Any candid opinions and expertise on the matter would be greatly appreciated. We plan to move over the summer of 2012.
School districts we're currently considering:

McKinney, Prosper, Lovejoy, Rockwall, Frisco, Little Elm, Sunnyvale, and Argyle.
1. You need a map!! McKinney, Prosper, Frisco, Little Elm are all due north of Dallas. Rockwall & Sunnyvale are, in fact, east. Argyle is waaay northwest. Lovejoy is northeast.

2. Here's my general "run down" on these districts:
McKinney- doesn't meet your size criteria. Ok district, quality wise. Probably the most diverse of the northern suburbs- about 1/3 of district qualifies for "free lunch" and 40% are minorities. Several high-profile instances of bullying in the schools over the last few years (run a check on city-data for threads) - and most disturbing, the administration's reaction to these situations.

Prosper- does meet size criteria. It's TEA "exemplary" all right, but there SAT scores & other true measures of "college prep" stink. SAT score ranks 36th in the Metroplex (1049), far behind the better school districts.

Lovejoy - meets size criteria. Questionable administration. Promotes its "all AP/ Honors" curriculum, however many families feel like it's a disservice because the truly bright kids are held back by having the regular kids in their AP courses. Dumbs down the AP experience in a quest to be known as the "all kids are smart" district. Poke around this website for more info--> Lovejoy Schools : Lovejoy ISD/Lucas ISD/Fairview ISD

Frisco - 4A. Growing rapidly but committed to small school strategy. I think the district is HIGHLY overrrated. It's in the most affluent northern burb (over $100k hh income) and yet doesn't convert to college prep data & college acceptances. SAT's rank 24th-34th in metroplex (1050-1080 M+V), far behind the other TEA Exemplary school districts. Yes, they have high pass rates on exams, but only 25-30% of students in AP courses (vs 50-85% of students at better districts like Highland Park, Plano, Coppell, etc).

Little Elm - just don't. 94th "best" SAT in metroplex @ 925 (M+V).

Rockwall - 4A so may be too big. Great community spirit & support for schools. SAT's rank 21st (Rockwall HS- 1086 M+V) and 33rd (Heath- 1051) in Metroplex. Comprable quality to Frisco, but less affluent (30% free-lunch) so it doesn't bother me as much as the underachieving Frisco schools.

Sunnyvale- Great small district. Very small. 3A, I thinK?

Argyle- I know nothing. 17th highest SAT (1093 M+V) in metroplex, higher than Frisco/ Rockwall/ Prosper/ Little Elm, etc, so at least that's a start. Argyle is pretty remote (way north of Dallas, near Denton) so keep that in mind.


I would suggest you expand your search to Southlake (Carroll ISD), Coppell ISD, and Highland Park ISD. They are the three best public districts in north Texas. HP is in Central Dallas (surrounded by city of Dallas) and Carroll & Coppell are northwest. Carroll & Coppell are both 5A but all three are single-high school districts which I think helps build community spirit as everyone ends up in the same place. Housing isn't cheap in these places (because everyone wants the schools), but you could rent an apartment / duplex/ or possibly small home in HPISD for $2000/mo or in the Valley Ranch part of Irving that is zoned to Coppell ISD. Worth a look if you want to work for a supportive administration and really bright kids.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Okie_in_TheWoodlands View Post
We'll apply in the districts with the best reputations to get our kiddos in those good schools or we'll just wait 'til the next year.
This may vary by district, but in general, teaching in the district does NOT mean your kids can attend those schools. Your residence would need to be within that district's boundaries.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:23 PM
 
8 posts, read 24,090 times
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Thanks for that input, and for the detailed information. The devil's in the details sometimes, so it's good to have that data. I've taught in four school districts in the Houston area, and my wife two others, and the teachers' children may attend the school of his/her choice in the district, even if he/she lives outside of the district. We're actually doing that now with my 1st grade daughter in The Woodlands. All school districts certainly play by different rules. It's something I'll have to look into as we progress. The information about Lovejoy is particularly interesting. Thanks again for the information.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:08 PM
 
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Not in the specific area you want, but Argyle is a neat little school district.
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Old 11-03-2011, 04:03 PM
 
Location: TX
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As usual TC hit the nail on the head! great post!

I am going to throw some things in the mix for you too. Lewisville is one district that has been hiring etc... the Flowermound schools that fall into the Lewisville ISD are very good and continue to post very good numbers in SAT, AP and NMSF. But again they are 5A schools.

For 4A and smaller the ones I know about are Argyle and Aledo (west of Ft Worth) A bit far removed from the metroplex, but since you both teach, you could live where you work and thus no commute worries.
Sunnyvale is close to Dallas and has a very good rep as me and others have said.
Rockwall would definately be worth looking into as well, very pretty over there and still close to Dallas.
(but growth is a factor and may get too big for 4A)

Yes, some districts allow teachers to have thier kids transfer into the district where they teach. Northwest does I know, since my neighbor teaches there and her kids attend the schools. A simple call to the Admin would let you know that.

If you want 5A just speak up. TC already gave you the top 3 but there are some others worth looking into if the $$$ is too much for those.
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:30 PM
 
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You all are so gracious to offer your time and expertise. It is greatly appreciated. I enjoy teaching and coaching in a 5A school, but my wife and I would really prefer a smaller school for the kids if possible. The key, really, is where my wife gets an elementary job. If she has the opportunity for a position (crossed fingers with this education climate), we'll use this information to help decide if it's in the right feeder zone to coincide with what we'd like for our kids. I'm fine working at any of the schools, really. I teach English IV AP, and I've coached (in the past) baseball, basketball, football and tennis. I've not coached for four years because I'm a certified personal trainer, and my fitness business has done pretty well for us for the last four years. I plan to start that up wherever we move. I'm great with coaching again, of course, if it helps get me a job. My priority as an AP teacher is certainly the classroom, though. I also have a Business Education certification which I haven't used. Sunnyvale sounds great, and I've never been to Rockwall, but the statement that it's a pretty area is appealing, moving from The Woodlands. Most of our family is in Oklahoma, so we'd love to move our kids a little closer. I do like Lewisville. I was offered an English/football job there 12 years ago. Argyle is appealing too, even if it's on the other side of the Metroplex. I like that Frisco is making a concerted effort to keep the high schools 4A. This is all very valuable information. If you think of anything else, keep it coming! There's not much more important to us than having our kids grow up in a great community with great schools. Thank you again.
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